It is a lighter-weight motorcycle jacket designed to provide good air flow with decent protection and a lot of style.
The Aspide is not a mesh jacket, but the special Cordura fabric provides excellent air flow.
Protection includes EC Level 1 shoulder and elbow protectors and aluminum external armor on the shoulders. The Aspide can also be fitted with the Dainese G1 or G1 back protector.
Next up in our 2012 “Summer Style Series” is the Dainese Aspide jacket.
The AGV Grid helmet review was the first installment in this series, which is designed to provide an alternative to the “industrial” look the adventure-touring gear we’ve been focusing on recently.
This series of reviews is similar to the “Spring/Summer Clothing Review Series” web published in 2010, which proved to be very popular with many webBikeWorld readers, many of whom have been requesting an update for a stylish lightweight outfit suitable for hot-weather riding.
No problem; plenty of style here by pairing the Marco Lucchinelli replica Grid helmet with the cool (literally) Dainese Aspide jacket in white, red, blue and black. And there’s more to come, with the Dainese Air Frame mostly-mesh jacket paired with the redesigned AGV K4 EVO helmet.
Both outfits mate very nicely with the stylish Dainese D1 Kevlar jeans. And don’t forget the mesh Dainese Asphalt shoes, along with the Dainese Druids gloves for that finishing touch…
The Dainese “Shotgun” jacket (review) is still one of my favorites for hot-weather riding and it must be popular, as it’s still in the ever-changing Dainese lineup for 2012.
The Shotgun has a special type of fabric blend used in the shell that is very “stretchy” and flows a lot of air without having to rely on the typical mesh weave used in other types of summer motorcycle jackets.
The Shotgun, Aspide, Air Frame and many other jackets illustrates the very deep Dainese product lineup that pretty much “covers the bases” (an American baseball term) for everything from lightweight and relatively inexpensive summer gear all the way up to high-end waterproof touring and leather race wear.
I’d have to guess that more than one Dainese designer has personal experience with hot weather riding, because there are so many cool-looking and cool-wearing short textile jackets listed in the 2012 catalog. These include the Aspide (Aspide means “asp” or a type of viper); the Dainese Air Frame semi-mesh jacket that will also be featured in the webBikeWorld “Summer Style Series” and many more
The Aspide, the Air Frame and the Shotgun jackets have some of the most abundant ventilation of any motorcycle jacket and they still provide at least a modicum of protection. They are admittedly lighter-weight jackets and there is a compromise; the tradeoff is air flow for less abrasion and impact protection.
These are about the lightest-weight jackets I would feel comfortable wearing, but it’s a calculus that only you can make for yourself.
For example, a one-piece leather suit or, say, the Dainese Alien jacket and pants outfit (review) will provide way more (theoretical) protection than the Aspide/D1 combo. But, when the mercury starts to climb past the 27 C (80-degree F) mark, and the choice becomes not riding at all or finding a more reasonable, lighter-weight outfit, well, that’s where the Aspide, Air Frame and Shotgun jackets come into their own.
Dainese Aspide Jacket Details: Jacket Shell
The Aspide jacket is not mesh; in fact, it’s “solid” Cordura all the way ’round. This is not the thick Cordura of the type usually found in a 3/4-length winter jacket, however. It’s something Dainese calls “Cordura Comfort”, which feels like a lighter-weight Cordura polyester fabric, knitted in a tiny “nail head” weave and incorporating a stretch fabric.
The result is a very comfortable shell that isn’t quite as “stretchy” as the special “Mugello” stretch fabric used in the Dainese Shotgun jacket, which incorporates 5% Elastane and stretches about 20%.
We think Dainese uses at least two different blends of the Cordura Comfort fabric in the Aspide jacket, as the arms stretch about 15% while the slightly thicker fabric on the front and rear (in white on this version) stretches about 10% in our admittedly rough and un-scientific experiments.
This elastic property is used to good effect on both the Shotgun and Aspide jackets, providing excellent comfort while also helping to keep the nicely-sculpted Level 1 shoulder and elbow armor in place.
Note that the fabric used on the Shotgun and Aspide jackets is not the open-weave mesh type that. But it still allows large volumes of air to flow through, making the vents on the upper chest and on the back somewhat redundant. There’s a photo in the slide show (below) that illustrates the “see through” aspect of this fabric, with the Aspide jacket being held up to the studio light.
As mentioned in the Background section above, the emphasis with the Aspide jacket is on style and “breathability”. So you should not expect race-like levels of abrasion or impact protection here; nevertheless, the Aspide offers a reasonable compromise and again, it’s leagues better than a T-shirt for summer riding, no doubt about that.
The Aspide jacket does not have a waterproof or windproof liner. The jacket shell is lined with a type of taffeta-like open weave mesh that is permanently attached inside the jacket. It provides a thin barrier between your skin (and that T-shirt that is typically worn under a jacket like this) and the jacket shell.
It should be obvious, but just in case: no, the Aspide is not waterproof by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it designed to be.
The Aspide is currently available in four color combinations: black and gray; red, white, blue and black; a black, white, red and gray; and a black and Kawaski green combo. Each color combo looks good in its own way but the white is probably best for its heat reflectivity and overall visibility…and it also matches that AGV Grid Lucchinelli replica helmet.
The only problem with this color combination is that the white fabric becomes quickly spattered with bug corpses of various shapes and sizes. Some of those critters will stain the white fabric; hopefully a soak in chlorine will help but it will have to be done with care to avoid bleaching the colored fabric sections. So far, a wipe-down with a damp cloth as soon as I come back from a ride has helped…
Other features of the Aspide jacket include a single strip of retro-reflective material on each arm. It’s about 5 mm wide and 250 mm long. The Aspide jacket shell is treated with a SITIP (Italy) “Sanitized” treatment to prevent bacteria and mold. It is also claimed to have a deodorant function.
The stretch Cordura and a correctly chosen size make for a comfortable and slightly snug fit on the Aspide jacket. The stretch material gives the sleeves an exceptionally comfortable fit and feel and the elbow and shoulder armor is also nicely shaped and sculpted, a characteristic of the Level 1 armor compared to the bulkier Level 2.
The result is one of the most comfortable and tailored fits you’ll experience on any motorcycle jacket of any type.
The only adjustment is at the waist, with a 30 mm wide attached belt running through a red (on the white jacket) anodized aluminum square ring on either side. It fastens with hook-and-loop and has a blue pull tab that adds a stylish contrast.
The sleeve cuffs are edged with leather and a leather strap adjusts to one of two metal “Fio Button” snaps, made in Italy. The sleeves have a non-locking zipper about 160 mm long that runs vertically along the inside of the sleeve to the cuff. There’s a wedge of elastic material underneath and this arrangement allows an easy fit over or under gloves.
The jacket collar is edged in the same type of leather and it has two more metal snaps for adjustment. 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 Aspide jacket includes two hand pockets in front. The locking zippers are hidden under the white fabric, so they are nicely camouflaged into the design. Each pocket is about 250 mm deep and lined with some type of polyester fabric.
A 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 jacket also has a pair of vents at the upper chest, hidden under the red angled fabric just under the neck (see photos). These are approximately 100 mm long and they don’t open very wide, but do provide minimal ventilation, although as mentioned above, the entire jacket shell has good air flow through the fabric itself.
Two more zippered vents are located in the rear of the jacket, also under the red strips on this color combination. These vents are about 200 mm long with a zipper opening.
The main zipper is unbranded but has a locking wire-frame pull that works well.
The Aspide jacket includes CE Level 1 armor in the elbows and shoulders. The armor is very nicely sculpted to fit the contours of the body. Aluminum external shoulder protectors are permanently attached to the jacket shell (see the close-up photo in the slide show below).
The jacket has a built-in pocket, accessible through a zipper along the inside lower hem at the rear, 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 Aspide includes a full-length zipper to attach to a pair of Dainese pants.
Aspide 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.
Light weight and good air flow are the price one pays for less protection.
Conclusion: On the Road With the Dainese Aspide Jacket
The Aspide jacket has two excellent features that are immediately apparent. First is the comfort. The combination of light weight and stretchy Cordura makes it a joy to wear. Sure, you’re giving up a certain degree of ultimate protection, but it just feels so comfy, you’ll wonder why other motorcycle jackets have to feel so…confining.
This feeling isn’t unique to the Aspide jacket either; it is apparently a characteristic of Dainese lighter-weight summer jackets, like the Shotgun jacket that has also been a favorite of mine for this very reason. And the Air Frame jacket is no exception either, as you’ll learn in that review.
The arms of the Aspide jacket are flexible enough and shaped to move with the rider even as they remain in place, with little or no hanging or bulk that is characteristic of some mesh jackets I’ve tried. The fit and the stretch (and the slashed color treatment) also give the Aspide its style — a jacket will always look better when it’s form-fitting.
The second feature that becomes apparent as soon as the bike starts to move is the amount of air that flows through the Aspide jacket. Air “seepage” is probably more accurate, because the jacket is not mesh but the lighter-weight fabric and the absence of a liner allows the air to flow into the jacket, keeping the wearer cool.
The pocket liners in the front and chest do block some of the air, and again, this isn’t the same type of cooling effect one might get from an open-weave mesh jacket. But overall, this is an excellent summer or hot weather jacket that provides excellent ventilation while still offering a modest level of protection.
In the end, it’s very difficult to choose between the Shotgun, the Aspide and the Air Frame jackets for hot-weather riding!