Dainese Flanker Jacket/ Drake Air Pants
Many riding-apparel manufacturers these days offer separate jackets and pants that feature an internal zipper allowing you to connect different items from the company's catalog. We decided to try out this concept with respected Italian manufacturer Dainese. The company's diverse lineup gave us the opportunity to try to put together a summer riding suit that ventilates enough to keep you from turning into a portable sauna, while still providing adequate protection in case of a fall.
We decided on combining the vented "summer-version" Flanker leather riding jacket with the textile Drake Air pants. The Flanker jacket is constructed from premium full-grain cowhide leather with short-cut waist tailoring (versus the long-cut, which offers more covering for the lower back with the rider in a sport-tuck position) since it is made primarily to be connected with pants. The summer version features perforated leather in the arms and chest area for ventilation, and a removable, thin down liner is provided for use in colder climes. Removable composite impact protection is used in the shoulders and elbow/forearms, and a pocket is provided in the back for the Wave G back protector (which we had included). The usual zippered hand pockets are on each side, with a zippered internal pocket as well; hook-and-loop adjustable straps on each side of the waist ensure a snug fit.
The Drake Air pants are constructed from a combination of Cordura 750 and Suretta fabric for strength and abrasion resistance. Ventilation is handled by two large patches above and below the knee area that employ a combination of heavy-duty nylon-weave fabric and a perforated liner to allow airflow into the pants. Removable composite armor for the knee and shin areas, plus foam inserts for the hips, provide impact protection for the extremities. There is a zippered pocket on each side, and the waist is adjustable via two hook-and-loop straps. A nifty slotted snap keeps the pants buttoned up, and an external zipper on the outside of each leg eases entry and exit of the pants. The internal zipper that attaches the jacket and pants runs about 75 percent of the circumference around the waist, and the zipper on the jacket side is attached to an elastic panel that allows a bit of flex for ease of movement on the bike.
We've been commuting in the Dainese jacket and pants every day for the past few summer months, and even used them on our two-day sport-touring excursion in this issue. Overall ventilation and comfort have proven to be excellent, even in some of the triple-digit temperatures we've ridden through. In fact, the ventilation worked so well that when we encountered 65-degree-F ambient temps near the coast, we had to reattach the liners because we were actually getting cold. We purposely ordered the Drake Air pants a size or two on the large side so that we could wear them over regular jeans or other casual pants, and the Dainese apparel has turned out to be a much better summer commuting alternative to any textile or leather suit.
Thankfully, we haven't had the chance to road-test the crash-worthiness of the Dainese gear. We have no reservations regarding the Flanker leather jacket, as the construction and stitching look sturdy enough to provide good protection. While the Drake Air pants may not have the abrasion resistance of leather, wearing them with clothing underneath, such as jeans, should provide (for the most part) adequate protection for commuting or even sport-touring situations. The ventilation panels are an obvious abrasion weak spot, but they are positioned in areas that are either already protected (shin area by the composite armor and also by the boots you should be wearing), or in a location (above the knee) that seldom suffers any major pavement contact.
The Flanker jacket retails for $559, and is available in combinations of black/silver with yellow, carbon, red, blue, orange or green, or all black (black/silver with carbon or red, or all black are available with summer perforation) in men's Euro sizes 44-60 and women's Euro sizes 40-52. The Drake Air pants ($199) are available in black only, in men's Euro sizes 44-60 and women's Euro sizes 40-52.
See your local dealer, or log on to www.dainese.com
Sidi Vertigo Air Boots
We've been waiting patiently for an apparel manufacturer to build a riding/racing boot that offers the latest protection technology, but with decent ventilation for use in hotter climates. There have been a few attempts, but most of the time the venting on a manufacturer's "fully vented" boot is limited to a token (and conspicuously placed) flashy vent.
Sidi's new Vertigo Air boot is the Italian manufacturer's latest try at functionally vented riding/racing footwear. The Vertigo Air carries all the same features as the standard Vertigo boot, including the patented Vertebra System, which uses articulating panels running along the back of the boot to protect the rider's Achilles tendon as well as help prevent hyperextension in a fall. The heel is protected by a replaceable thermoplastic resin cup, while the similarly constructed (and replaceable) shin plate wards off any blows in that particular leg area. The bolt-on nylon plastic toe skids are also adjustable, and additional calf adjustment is available using the ratcheting "micro-adjustment" flip-up dial on the rear of the boot. Venting is provided by the perforated Lorica outer shell of the boot, with an adjustable dual-scoop vent on the outside of the foot for additional airflow.
After a solid two months of daily use in commuting and sport-touring duties, we can honestly state that the Sidi Vertigo Air boot is one of only two boots we've ever tried in this magazine's history (the other being Kushitani's Cool Boot, which doesn't offer the same protective features as the Vertigo Air) that actually provides cooling airflow that you can feel while riding. Even Sidi's previous-generation vented boots weren't really that functional when it came to airflow through the shell, but the new Vertigo Air is a huge step forward in actual venting performance. We mostly attribute this to the larger percentage of perforated leather (or Lorica in this case) used in the overall construction of the boot.
This is basically icing on the cake, since the Vertigo Air also provides superb fit, comfort and support of the foot and ankle area. This is in contrast to the fit of the standard Vertigo Corsa, which we weren't too fond of. At $275, we consider the Vertigo Airs a good investment for those riders looking to keep their pups from overheating in sweltering climates. Available only in all black with red trim, in men's sizes 7-13.
Gaerne GRS Boots
As motorcycle boots get more and more technical with plastic add-ons, ankle protection systems-some even with inner booties-it's becoming harder and harder to find a pair that offers a decent compromise between flexibility and safety. Certainly, more protection is better, but in many cases that protection comes at a penalty of control feel and comfort. Gaerne's GRS boot offers the protection of an additional ankle support without sacrificing the comfort and feel of a traditional boot.
The GRS has supple leather and a stretch panel in the shin area, providing a comfortable fit and ease of movement. To protect your ankle, the boot has a screwed-on plastic brace that prevents the boot from twisting sideways. Molded plastic extends up from the sole to the shin area, and a molded-plastic wrap is attached with a screw on each side right at the ankle's pivot point. The boot zips up the back, and the plastic wrap fastens to itself with two adjustable aluminum buckles. Additional features include removable titanium heel and toe sliders, an all-new anti-vibration sole, and a rubber "grip guard" on the exterior of the boot.
Gaerne's "upper pivot protection system" appears plenty sturdy to help prevent your ankle from twisting in a crash, yet it allows easy movement for shifting, braking and moving around. One advantage of the rear entry and wraparound top plastic portion is that there are fewer seams, plastic parts and joints to catch on bike parts. Of the boots we've tried that have some form of additional ankle support, the Gaernes are among the most comfortable to ride in, and we're confident of their ability to protect our feet in a crash. There is one drawback to the hinged setup, however: While the boots do have a gel ankle insert and the interior in that area is well padded, the hinge itself will chafe your ankle bones if you wear the GRS boots for extended periods-especially walking.
The $300 Gaerne GRS boots are available in black, blue, carbon gray or red, in sizes 6-13.