Review: Dainese Laguna Seca 5 is the Tuxedo of Motorcycle Race Suits

This is what I assume it’s like to fly long-haul business class.
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Life is a series of decisions made on a spectrum of the head and the heart, including when we decide to buy something. Decisions made by the head are good value and practical, whereas those made by the heart simply make you feel special. 

Things that appeal to your heart don’t necessarily need to be lacking in other areas; take the Ducati Streetfighter V4, for example. It elicits one of the most emotional responses of any motorcycle, from nothing more than its sight and sound. But it’ll also blow just about every other super naked out of the water and is dripping in safety and performance tech.

The Dainese Laguna Seca 5 (LS5) is a premium product that costs more than its competitors. But is it a purchase you buy completely with your heart, or like the Streetfighter, does it have plenty of justifiable attributes, too? My job is to find out where the LS5 falls on the spectrum. These are my initial impressions.

Box Opening

You don’t open the box of the LS5 as you would an Amazon package. This is more ceremonial. A waft of fresh leather flushes through your nostrils, and you get a glimpse of the array of leather, titanium, and aluminum on offer. For a moment, it transforms you into a child who needs to use all his senses to interpret the world: smell, touch, feel, etc. I didn’t taste the LS5, for the record.

To call this a bonding experience wouldn’t be a stretch. 

The Bling

You pay a premium for the shiny attention-grabbing parts, but it’s not all style over substance. Most of the suit’s trick bits that turn heads are also there to serve the rider, either ergonomically or in terms of protection, as I’d find out. 

OK, this little Italian flag is the exception to that rule, and so far, the feature that’s received the most compliments.

The Tutu cowhide leather feels premium and soft to the touch, but it’s as tough as they come and results in a suit that’s CE – Cat. II. It has stopped my skin from being a stain on the pavement on more than one occasion, albeit at relatively low-speed spills.

Titanium elbow and aluminum shoulder plates are the show-stoppers, and I imagine as close as it feels to wearing Beskar alloy armor in real life. They feel special, are rare, and they protect. The plates are in high-impact areas and easily replaceable. So, instead of scuffing your shoulder to the point that the suit is ruined, you can pop out the plate for a new one. 

As much as I wanted to spend all day looking at the LS5, there comes a point where you have to suit up.

Suiting Up

Anyone who’s ever donned a motorcycle racing suit knows there’s a certain amount of dignity you need to put aside during the process. But the LS5 is the easiest suit I’ve ever gotten into. It was so easy, in fact, that I thought I’d gotten a size too large, that was until I zipped it up and feared the opposite. 

A racing suit should never feel particularly comfortable when standing straight up, but I started to worry that I wouldn’t be able to manage this suit’s discomfort long-term. Thankfully, with a bit of use over a few weeks, the LS5 broke in nicely. It still fits snugly enough to make me feel protected, but doesn’t try to ensure I’ll never have children once I stand up. 

Everyday Riding

Something I wasn’t particularly looking forward to was testing this suit out as a daily driver, as I live in Guadalajara, and the heat is no joke. I had visions of myself dehydrated, looking like a raisin, and chafing while riding in slow-moving traffic. Thankfully, I had very little to worry about. 

Once I got rolling on my Triumph Street Triple 765 and did the obligatory shimmies and shakes to get comfortable, I couldn’t believe the unrestricted movement on tap, especially considering the LS5 has fewer stretch fabrics than its predecessor. 

The key to making the suit feel as though it never fights your body’s movements are the strategically placed fabrics. The combination of the S1 material that runs along the thighs and forearms, the tri-axial elasticated insert on the back and shoulders, and the ribbed material that sits above your knees ensure that, in a crouched position, you’re never left wanting. 

There’s a simultaneous feeling of absolute protection and complete ergonomic freedom.

Once I got up to speed for the first time, I felt a zing of cool air hit my chest and thighs via the suit’s perforation, like someone had switched on localized fans. But the lack of rear exhaust vents means this cooling air doesn’t flow as well as it could. So, when you come to a stop for any decent period, the urge to pull down the zipper, Fabio Quartararo-style, is strong.

Something worth noting in terms of everyday practicality is the 1-inch inner pocket. I’d be lost without it, or rather, my apartment keys would.

Knee-Down Action

This is my go-to suit to prepare for a championship next year, so I’ve been using it in all my training drills. Everything about the LS5 encourages you to get your ass off the seat and knee on the ground. The S1 fabric lets your inside leg to fall open, while the rubber pads on the inner knees provide plenty of thigh-to-tank grip.

It’s the same story with the S1 fabric on the arms and tri-axial elasticated insert on the back and shoulders. There’s nothing to stop you from straightening your outside and bending the inside arm. Again, it feels encouraged. 

The suit hasn’t given me anything extra to think about while training, and enables me to focus on moving the needle, which is exactly what you want.

The Only Not-So-Good

If you’ve read this far, it’s clear that my initial impressions of the LS5 are good. My only concern is with the armor on offer, or rather lack of it. Originally, I was disappointed that the $1,599.95 suit didn’t come with a back protector until I learned it doesn’t even have a pocket for a protector, nor does it have pockets for chest armor. And, although the LS4 had CE Level 2 armor, this model uses CE Level 1 at the shoulders, elbows, and knees.

The absence of CE Level 2 armor and any pockets for back or chest protectors is lacking compared to competitors, like the Alpinestars Missile V2 Ignition Race Suit, and disconcerting when you consider how many riders will buy this suit and take it to the track. Fair enough, you could buy a standalone back protector, but in this day and age, not having pockets for a chest protector is unacceptable unless the suit is specifically designed to work with an airbag system, which this is not.

My Thoughts So Far

The Dainese Laguna Seca 5 doesn’t make me think that it’s the best-value racing suit on the market, because that’s not what you think about when you put it on. It’s a suit that makes you feel special each time you zip up and continue to feel that long after you’ve set off. 

A full-length review of the LS5 is coming, but before that, I need to squeeze in a few track days, some several-hundred-mile rides, and plenty of training sessions. So leave your questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer them in the review.