The Dainese Alien Leather Jacket ("Giacca Alien Pelle") and Alien Leather Pants ("Pantaloni Alien Pelle") are made with supple ultra-quality leather and lots of Dainese goodness.
One touch and you know you're holding something different.
The styling is just right -- sophisticated and modern without being overdone. Even the fit is right on the money, cut for today's physique, which is, shall we say, fuller than it was in the past.
The price reflects the Dainese quality and high levels of construction and this is a classic example of the phrase "You get what you pay for".
We have received many requests over the years to review more Dainese gear, so I'm very happy to oblige. There's no reason for the relative scarcity of Dainese reviews on webBikeWorld and I can only give my stock answer in defense: "So much gear, so little time to review it".
There have been a few Dainese reviews published on webBikeWorld; in fact, the subject of our first Dainese review was the Dainese Jet Stream Tourer helmet in 2007. We have also reviewed the Dainese D-System D-Dry jacket in 2009; the Dainese Shotgun jacket in 2010 and the Dainese X-ILE gloves exactly one year ago.
I'll agree that isn't much considering we now have 1,077 product reviews (1,079 counting the Alien jacket and pants), along with hundreds of other book reviews, maintenance and repair articles, motorcycle reviews, special reports and more.
But I can say this: each and every Dainese product we've reviewed has been an outstanding piece of motorcycle gear and, as you can probably guess, the Alien jacket and pants are no exception.
This is good news in and of itself. When you pay good money for motorcycle gear, it should last a long time. Some -- but not all -- of the Dainese gear may cost a bit more than a competing brand, but in this case, you really do get what you pay for. webBikeWorld visitors know that, thus the many emails we've received, asking for more Dainese reviews.
There's also a certain amount of the "It" factor to be considered; wearing a Dainese garment gives one a certain intangible feel of goodness and satisfaction that is completely absent when wearing an "Acme" brand jacket or pants. There's a reason for this beyond the styling -- the company knows what they're doing when it comes to designing motorcycle clothing that works.
That's worth a good chunk o' change right there, but let's take a closer look at the Alien jacket and Dainese Alien pants (review) and I'll see if I can describe what makes it special.
The Dainese Giacca Alien Pelle (Dainese Alien Skin or Alien Leather Jacket) is a new item in the vast 2011 Dainese catalog. The perfect match for the jacket is, of course, the Pantaloni Alien Pelle or Dainese Alien Leather Pants (review).
Literally hundreds of different jackets and pants have come through here in the last 11+ years, and one thing is certain: high-quality leather has a magic feel that sets it apart from everything else. The Dainese "D-Skin" leather has it, without doubt.
One touch tells you that this is something different; it has that soft, supple and silky feel that defines quality. The pebbled grain is also flawless, as are the seams and the stitching, right down to the belt loops. Not a thread is out of place and the stitch ends have all been carefully knotted, tucked and snipped.
And about that smell... An incredible bouquet and just what I imagine it would be like stepping into a Bentley or Rolls!
The Alien jacket is available in either a non-perforated version or the "Giacca Alien Pelle Estivo" (Summer Alien Leather Jacket) shown here, with a perforated front. The perforations are of a different type than I've seen before; they're extremely tiny at 1 mm each, which helps to maintain the leather's protective qualities while providing excellent air flow.
It appears that the holes have been "drilled" with a computer-controlled laser, because the pattern is perfectly arranged, with each row and column lined up nice and crisp and sharp. I would think that by using the laser, the circumference of each hole is slightly hardened by the heat of the laser, which may help maintain the overall integrity of the leather and to prevent tearing at the circumference of the hole.
The pattern of holes is repeated along the top of the red leather on the inside of the arms, and also in the sections of black leather on each side of the jacket, from just above the hem up to the elastic material under the arm.
All of thse tiny precision-cut perforations are so small that I didn't even realize I had the perforated version of the Alien jacket. I discovered the holes as I was turning the jacket over in my hands to examine the seams. I can see light through them, however, and then I discovered that they definitely add to the summer comfort of this jacket when riding.
The Alien jacket and pants are designed for street, sport and touring, so they don't have the "race" style cut and features of other Dainese garments. This allows the designers a good measure of flexibility -- literally -- in the design of the jacket.
The Alien jacket has several features that create this added flexibility, and this makes it so comfortable for everyday wear. For example, the matte surfaces that can be seen starting at the collar and running down the arm, underneath the arm and up along the arm joint at the back are made from a thick elastic material that provides both ventilation and form-fitting flex.
The material feels similar to that used on the Dainese Shotgun jacket (review) to good effect. The elastic is located in the areas least likely to suffer abrasion during a fall, but perfect for allowing air to pass through to the front of the arms and underneath the arm and back of the shoulder.
This, combined with the perforations on the Estivo (summer) version of the Alien jacket, make it much more suitable for warm weather than one might think at first glance. I have worn the Alien jacket in temperatures up to 90 degrees F, albeit with humidity on the dry side, and I was perfectly comfortable, especially as the air started moving over the jacket.
Of course, the first time a bug splattered itself on the front of this beautiful leather I nearly cried, but such is life...
It may be that one of the things that has kept us from reviewing many Dainese products in the past is the image of Italian sizing, which has now proven to be incorrect.
I think it was true that many of the European brands of motorcycle clothing were once made for what we in the States euphemistically called "stick figures".
The European standard for motorcycle (and street) clothing was different from our "corn fed" North American shapes. I'm a size L and I remember buying sizes of XL and even XXL in some European brands and finding them to be so severely undersized and strangely proportioned that I just couldn't find anything that fit correctly.
Now, with modern food distribution systems, open borders and, I suppose, a taste for fats, carbohydrates and all of the other junk-ola that makes up the modern diet no matter where you live, European bodies are much closer in size to their North American cousins. Generally speaking, of course.
In any case, the "new" Dainese sizing standards are right on the mark, based on our experience with both the Dainese D-System D-Dry 3/4-length jacket (review) and the previously mentioned Shotgun jacket.
In fact, based on that experience, I now think that Dainese clothing fits more precisely and exact to standard than many other brands of motorcycle clothing we've reviewed. An example is this Alien jacket, which is a size 54 Euro, just like the Shotgun and D-System D-Dry jacket. They all fit exactly as expected; a men's size 44 US.
The supple leather and the large swaths of elastic have been sewn in to the critical flex areas to add to the comfort factor and I can honestly say that I probably couldn't get a better fit if it were custom made.
In fact, it's not all that easy to measure oneself for a custom-fitted motorcycle jacket anyway, and my previous experience with that has been less than satisfactory. So here's one instance where the off-the-shelf item is the one for me.
Starting at the top, the collar of the Alien jacket is a good illustration of the type of detailing you're paying for in this premium jacket.
It is topped by a section of red perforated leather that peeks up from inside the collar, giving it a touch of style. The inside of the collar is lined with leather, nicely stitched all around. It's comfortable and the organic leather seems to absorb sweat, so it will probably need some cleaning over time but should last for quite a while.
The collar has a metal snap labeled by the manufacturer "AMF Italy" and it has a red anodized coating and the Dainese script on top. Two mating snaps on the opposite part of the collar allow for adjustment; I use the farthest snap, so there's plenty of room for larger-sized necks as mine runs about 17".
The main zipper is an "Opti" brand metal runner closing small nylon teeth. the zipper is backed by a section of heavy fabric that feels like a synthetic canvas. It has a nice zig-zag stitching pattern up the front and back side, and even this mundane piece that no one will ever pay attention to is beautifully designed and constructed.
The hem at the bottom of the front of the jacket zipper does not have a snap; a result of its street/sport intentions no doubt and unnecessary in any case. The absence of a snap in this area gives the lower part of the jacket a smoother appearance and avoids the problem of scratching the paint on the fuel tank.
One of the many nice styling features on the Alien jacket is the use of the nubuck suede leather across the front and arms, reminiscent of the colored stripes on vintage motorcycle jackets, but here as a matte very dark gray/black with the Dainese script letters sewn on egg shell gloss heat-sealed tape.
The striping detail melds the old with the new and it is subtle and not overpowering. It is funny, however, that we as motorcyclists seem to like big brand names emblazoned across our clothing and helmets? Or do we...?
The sleeve cuffs feature a 160 mm long Opti brand zipper, also with a metal runner and small nylon teeth. The dart is backed with a section of single-ply leather; red in this jacket.
The end of the sleeve uses a flat section of leather backed with hook-and-loop to secure the cuff end; it's simple and sleek and easily fits inside a glove gauntlet.
The Alien jacket has another surprise up its sleeve, so to speak. In fact, I think that Dainese has struck on a completely new approach to motorcycle jacket ventilation that is highly successful in a number of ways.
The Dainese Alien jacket features what the company calls its "3D Bubble" liner, which is permanently attached to the inside. They make a reference to Valentino Rossi's assistance in the development of this special liner for Dainese street clothing.
At first glance, the 3D Bubble liner appears to be similar to the nylon mesh liners used in other motorcycle jackets, but the "3D" part means that it's a few millimeters thick, constructed in an overlapping method that creates air chambers in between.
Dainese says that this gives the jacket a "microclimate" for both summer and winter use that replaces a removable liner. I don't know about winter, because the thermometer has been climbing by the day now that it's June, but the air chambers keep the leather away from the skin and allow the air that comes through the perforations to circulate much better than you might expect.
In fact, the combination of the large area of perforations and the 3D Bubble liner provide better ventilation than any other leather jacket I've worn with traditional vents, which usually don't open wide enough to allow large volumes of air to enter anyway.
The Dainese system is like a unique and successful approach to ventilation, bypassing the traditional vent system altogether. The zippered vents are not missed at all on the Alien jacket and their absence adds to the cleaner, modern appearance.
The permanently attached 3D Bubble liner also means that the jacket doesn't change sizes as it would if a traditional liner was removed. The fit is the same, summer or winter and it's very comfortable, because it has a soft, "squishy" feel that also protects against any chafing if you're wearing only a T-shirt underneath.
The 3D Bubble liner is attached to the main body of the jacket; the sleeves use the traditional mesh nylon permanently attached lining type. The elastic material used in the sleeves provide some air flow so these areas also remain relatively cool when riding.
Note that we have seen a "3D" type material similar to this used in the vent backing of the Rev'it Defender GTX jacket (review) but not as an entire lining combined with perforations to form a ventilation system.
An extra-long, 280 mm Opti zipper covers a pocket inside the left placket. This pocket is lined with a stretchy type of material that will pass air if nothing blocks it, such as a wallet or cell phone.
UPDATE: This pocket can be fitted with the Dainese Thorax protector; see the note from "M" in the Comments section below.
Another illustration of Dainese detailing you get when you're buying a premium jacket is the red leather band that backs this zipper. You can see it in the photo below -- a feature that very few would notice if it wasn't there, but one more indication of the care that went into the design.
The two hand pockets are also covered with zippers. They are inset in a rectangular cutout in the leather, with a rolled edge and careful stitching. The zipper is bounded by dual sections of a stretchy type of foam-backed hem on either side, yet another subtle but elegant detail.
Zip open the pockets and you'll find a strip of leather that matches the outer skin of the jacket. This camouflages the insides of the pocket when the zipper is open. Think about that for a minute -- someone decided that when opening the pocket, the inside lining might clash with the black leather, so they added a strip of the matching leather to hide it. That's what I call "attention to detail"...
The Alien jacket includes CE-approved, Level 1 armor in the elbows and along the forearm. It is nicely integrated into the tailoring of the jacket, becoming nearly unnoticed when riding, a feature typical of higher-end motorcycle clothing.
The shoulder armor is integrated into and under the styled metal plates located on the shoulders. This helps make the armor very comfortable and unnoticed. The metal plates are embedded in a leather surround with a raised edge surrounding the plate, which has the Dainese bat or devil logo displayed.
The integration of the armor with a stylistic feature is clever but also functional and it adds to the comfort level of the jacket at the same time. Let's just hope I never scrape, bump or tear this beautiful jacket though!
The Alien jacket can be fitted with the Dainese G1 or G2 "Wave" back protector. It slips up through a semi-hidden pocket located at the bottom of the hem on the inside of the liner. Even this zipper is covered with a narrow strip of the red leather, which turns it into a styling detail.
The Alien jacket includes strips of reflective material along the arms, in the Dainese script on the arms and the entire Dainese bat/devil logo on the upper back is also reflective.
Adjustments can be made at the hem by pulling on a rubberized grip attached to a wide and very hefty-looking waist adjuster belt that wraps around the back of the jacket. The belt is sewn to the outside of the jacket, which is the only styling faux pas, because it looks a bit out of place on the outside of the jacket and it would have been nicer if it was sewn through the inside.
The nylon webbed belt for the adjuster runs through a red anodized metal square ring, not the cheap plastic or nylon rings found on most jackets.
The jacket also has a 3/4 length attachment zipper to connect the Alien jacket to the Dainese Alien pants. The Alien jacket in size 54 weighs 6 lbs. (2.7 kg) and the size 54 pants weigh 5 lbs. (2.3 kg).
The Dainese Alien jacket is an impressive piece of kit, with all of the styling, features, usability and function you'd expect from this storied brand.
The perforated summer version is surprisingly comfortable to wear in much warmer weather than I expected, thanks to the multitude of tiny perforations and the 3D Bubble lining, which keeps the jacket away from the skin and allows air to circulate.
The creamy high-quality leather, the impeccable tailoring and the up-to-date styling of the Alien jacket turn it into something more than just another motorcycle jacket -- it has that special "It" factor with styling, design and functionality that makes you feel really good when you're wearing it, and that alone is worth a big chunk of the asking price!
|wBW Review: Dainese Alien Jacket|
|Manufacturer: Dainese||Suggested Retail Price: $699.00|
|Colors: Black or with Red or White accents (perforated). Plus Blue in non-perforated.||Made In: Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Sizes: 44 to 62 Euro. 44 to 60 U.S.||Review Date: May 2011|
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From "M" (06/2011): "Hi, I'm M. from Switzerland, a webBikeWorld.com devoted reader. I really like your reviews.
About the Dainese Alien Leather Jacket Review, I would like to point out that the extra-long, 280 mm pocket inside the left placket is for the "Dainese Thorax" chest protector.
You put one side of the chest protector on this pocket then you close the jacket over it.
D-Garage Lugano (Dainese Store in Lugano)
Via al Fiume 1 6929
Gravesano, Svizzera (Switzerland)