The Air Frame jacket is yet another excellent choice for motorcycle riding in the hottest weather. This jacket ultimately flows more air than either the Shotgun or Aspide jackets -- and that's saying a lot because those jackets have excellent ventilation also.
Excellent construction and detailing
Adequate protection for the weight of the jacket
Outstanding air flow with the "3D" mesh
Fits like it was custom-tailored
Nice lightweight detachable liner extends the comfort zone
Back protector is optional
No storage pocket for detachable liner
Light weight and good air flow are the compromise for less protection
The Dainese Air Frame jacket is also new for 2012. The Air Frame is a lighter-weight motorcycle jacket designed to provide excellent air flow with protective features and style. It provides maximum air flow due to the type of open-weave mesh used in the jacket shell.
The jacket also includes a lightweight wind barrier detachable liner. Protection includes EC Level 1 shoulder and elbow protectors and the Air Frame can be fitted with the Dainese G1 or G1 back protector. The Dainese “Shotgun” jacket (review) and Dainese Aspide jacket (review) are both excellent choices for hot weather riding.
They take a different approach to keeping the rider cool, not by employing mesh but with a stretchy type of outer jacket shell fabric that is comfortable while offering good air flow.
Then there’s the Dainese Air Frame jacket, which takes ventilation to a whole ‘nother level. This one is constructed with a mesh shell and it has a very open type of weave. It’s what might be called a “3D” mesh because the construction gives it a depth or thickness. It has a type of crosshatched “bullseye” weave that allows a huge amount of air to flow in and through.
In fact, it flows so much air, Dainese had to add a detachable zip-in windbreaker liner to help keep the rider warm when riding in cooler temperatures.
The Air Frame fits right in to our 2012 “Summer Style Series”, which features AGV helmets matched with Dainese jackets topping a pair of Dainese D1 Kevlar jeans, Asphalt boots and Druids gloves. We matched the Air Frame with the new Dainese K4 EVO helmet (review coming next) in the wild silver/black/red graphic for cool looks and even cooler riding.
The Dainese Air Frame jacket takes a different approach to keeping its wearer cool in the hottest temperatures. While the Dainese Shotgun and Aspide jackets use a stretch Cordura fabric for their outer shell, the Air Frame is mostly polyester mesh with a very open weave.
The Shotgun and Aspide jackets do not have a detachable liner, but the Air Frame includes a lightweight type of windbreaker removable (zippers) liner to block some of the generous volumes of air that flow through the jacket at night or in cooler weather.
The Air Frame isn’t completely mesh; it features lightweight non-mesh fabric on the outer and lower sections of each arm and along the sides at the pocket. These sections are also used for styling and they are available in different color patterns and they don’t affect the overall cooling effect very much.
The red/silver/black version is shown here and this same pattern is available with yellow in place of the red. All black, black with white side panels (the “High Rise”) and black with red or blue versions are also available.
Other features of the Air Frame jacket are similar to the Shotgun and Aspide jackets, including the collar, cuffs, zippers and pockets.
Like the Shotgun and Aspide jackets, the Air Frame is relatively light weight and lower on the protective scale than other Dainese jackets in textile or leather. Each of these jackets is designed for hot-weather riding to provide a minimal amount of protection and they’re a heck of a lot better than wearing a T-shirt or not riding at all because it’s too hot.
Just so you understand that there is a compromise here on the scale of protection vs. comfort.
Dainese Air Frame Jacket Details: Jacket Shell
The Air Frame jacket shell is mostly mesh, with an interesting “3D” type construction that has a sort of “bullseye” pattern when viewed in close-up (photo above).
This is a very open weave, as you can see in the photo, and it allows a lot of air to pass through. The solid fabric over the outer and lower arms would hopefully provide some abrasion protection and it has the potential to slide better than mesh.
The weave of the mesh is also different on the bar across the chest with the “Dainese” lettering made from individual leather letters. The horizontal bar is made from a more traditional mesh with a tighter (but still open) weave than is found on the rest of the jacket.
This different type of weave is also used in the rear of the jacket, where it forms the outer edges of the large “V” that mimics the Dainese fox/devil head logo (photo below).
The jacket has an open mesh lining of the taffeta type commonly found in most motorcycle jackets. The inside chest pocket is lined with the same type of open mesh material while the two hand pockets have a solid fabric lining.
Other features of the Air Frame jacket include small strips of retro-reflective material on the outer sections of the upper arms and along the outer wrist. The Dainese fox/devil head logo in the back is also reflective. The Air Frame jacket shell has theSITIP (Italy) “Sanitized” treatment to prevent bacteria and mold. It is also claimed to have a deodorant function.
The Air Frame jacket does not have the stretch Cordura fabric from the Shotgun or Aspide jackets. But, like all Dainese gear, it is tailored correctly and provides a slightly snug fit that looks good and helps to keep the armor in place.
The jacket is very comfortable, and the nicely contoured EC Level 1 armor fits perfectly and doesn’t get in the way. The Air Frame has an adjustment at the waist, with a 30 mm wide attached belt on either side that feeds through a plastic square ring. The belt does not use hook-and-loop but has three metal snaps for adjustment positions.
The sleeve cuffs are similar to the design of the Shotgun and Aspide jackets. The cuffs are edged with leather and a leather strap adjusts to one of two metal “Fio Button” brand snaps, made in Italy.
The sleeves do not have a zipper at the cuff, but there is a snap sleeve adjuster in each forearm and another on the upper arm; both have two snaps, one for the “home” position for the adjuster and one snap for a tighter adjustment position.
The jacket collar is edged in the same type of leather used on the Aspide jacket and it has two metal snaps for adjustment. As mentioned in the Aspide jacket review, the collar on a lighter-weight summer jacket doesn’t have to be as snug as a winter garment, so attaching the collar at the first snap seems fine and leaves the neck with a slight gap for air circulation.
Pockets, Vents and Zippers
The Air Frame, Shotgun and Aspide jackets have the same pocket layout, which includes two hand pockets in front and an internal chest pocket.
The pocket zippers on the Air Frame do not have locking pulls, another slight (and less expensive) detail difference between this jacket and the Aspide. Each pocket is about 250 mm deep and lined with a type of polyester fabric.
AA horizontal pocket is located on the inside of the jacket on the left. It is about 150 mm square and closes with a zipper underneath a contrasting red fabric trim.
The Air Frame jacket does not have vents and it doesn’t need them because of the mesh construction. The main zipper is an OPTI unit with a large pull tab and the locking feature.
Detachable Liner Details
The detachable liner in the Air Frame jacket is made from a very thin windbreaker fabric, and although the jacket doesn’t have a cargo pocket in the rear to stow the liner, it is light enough to be folded and stuffed into one of the front hand pockets if desired.
The liner attaches with separate zippers on either side in front, a snap at the collar and two snaps in each sleeve. The sleeve snaps are located about 110 mm up from the sleeve cuff and because the sleeve does not have a vertical zipper, it can be a bit difficult to re-attach the snaps inside the sleeve.
But I suspect that the Air Frame will be worn most of the time without the liner and it’s easy to simply put on the liner, put the jacket on over it, zip up the two liner attachment zippers on the inside of each placket and be on your way and don’t worry about attaching the snaps.
The Air Frame jacket includes the same type of CE Level 1 armor in the elbows and shoulders that is found in the Shotgun and Aspide jackets. The armor is very nicely sculpted to fit the contours of the body. The aluminum external shoulder protectors from the Aspide jacket are not included on the Air Frame.
The jacket has a built-in pocket inside in the rear, accessible through a zipper along the inside lower hem along the bottom, which will fit a Dainese G1 or G2 “Wave” back protector. The back protector is an $89.95 option and probably a good idea, as most riders will go without but a nice built-in back protector is always there when you need it.
The Air Frame includes a full-length zipper to attach to a pair of Dainese pants.
Air Frame jacket sizing runs from 44 to 62 Euro, or about a 33 to 47 inch U.S. chest size range. Sleeve lengths are proportional to the chest sizes and run from about 21 to 14 inches, measured from the outer top of the arm, outside the shoulder, down to the wrist.
The jacket shown here is a size 54 which, according to the Dainese size charts, should fit a 42.5 inch chest. I consider it the equivalent of a U.S. men’s size large and it should fit a 43-44 inch chest size, give or take. I have a 43″ chest and it fits me perfectly and just a little snug over a T-shirt.
Like the Aspide jacket, I have also worn Air Frame over the excellent Spark “Camelot” windproof vest (review) in cooler weather and along with the detachable liner, this extends the temperature and comfort range for the jacket.
Nice lightweight detachable liner extends the comfort zone.
Back protector is optional.
No storage pocket for detachable liner.
Light weight and good air flow are the compromise for less protection.
Comparison With Other Summer Jackets?
UPDATE: Several readers have asked how the Dainese Air Frame, Aspide and Shotgun jackets compare to the Rev’it Air jacket (review). The mesh used in the Dainese Air Frame is what I’d call medium weight; it’s slightly heavier than the mesh used on the Rev’it Air jacket but not quite as heavy/thick as the mesh used in the Joe Rocket Phoenix mesh jacket (review).
The solid fabric in the Rev’it Air jacket is similar in weight and thickness to the fabric found in the Dainese Air Frame, Aspide and Shotgun jackets, although Dainese has incorporated a stretch or elastic fabric, which makes it more comfortable and form-fitting.
I still wear the Rev’it Air outfit and have worn it recently to compare with the Dainese products for this review.
Conclusion: On the Road With the Dainese Air Frame Jacket
The Air Frame jacket is yet another excellent choice for motorcycle riding in the hottest weather. This jacket ultimately flows more air than either the Shotgun or Aspide jackets — and that’s saying a lot because those jackets have excellent ventilation also.
The solid fabric covering the lower arms and lower front sections of the Air Frame jacket don’t seem to affect the overall air flow and they give the jacket a bit more of a framework, which allows the jacket to have a trim fit, compared to some all-mesh jackets that can sag towards the bottom due to the weight of the mesh.
Of course, the lightweight mesh and overall construction of the Air Frame also helps keep the trim fit, something to keep in mind.
The lightweight detachable liner is a good idea and it’s made from a different type of material than is usually found in a motorcycle jacket liner. It is very lightweight, a sort of parachute material, but it fits the overall ambience of the Air Frame jacket, it’s easy to carry and if you disregard the sleeve cuff snaps, it’s easy to install into the jacket shell.
Choosing between the three Dainese summer jackets is very difficult, but the choice is made somewhat easier if you want ultimate air flow (and its compromises): the Air Frame is your jacket. It’s leagues better than wearing a T-shirt and it looks much better too. I will never understand why someone would choose to ride a motorcycle wearing a T-shirt when jackets like these are available…
One of those compromises when wearing a jacket like the Air Frame, with its “flow through” ventilation, is that it can actually feel too cool when the sun goes down or the clouds roll in. That’s where the liner comes in handy, so be sure to keep it nearby.
Also, it’s important to take care not to get dehydrated when wearing a jacket like the Air Frame — it’s no joke, it can happen very easily! Large volumes of air flowing over your body at high speeds will evaporate a lot of moisture. So be sure to keep some water handy.
The bottom line is that the Air Frame combines good looks with performance for cool (literally) riding in the hottest of summer weather. And, the price for this jacket is reasonable also, making this an easy choice.
From “T.R.” (June 2012): “Seems like a great jacket but I sure wish these manufactures would quit making so-called hot weather jackets that are mostly black. Even the other color options of this jacket have black shoulders and sleeves which defeats the purpose of the jacket for me here in Texas. The sun beating down on black mesh is still miserable. Fashion be da**ed! Give us pure hi-viz or white options please!”