Dainese Smart Jacket Long Term Review.
Airbag MotoGP™️ technology has been around for some years. And as the bikes reached higher speeds, the need to ensure better protection for the riders also increased, leading to technological advances in which brands like Dainese took an important role.
As always, motorcycle tech advances that happen inside the paddock end up finding the way to the streets.
Dainese understood that, and in 2011 released the first D®Air technology airbag suit. From then on forward, the Italian airbags were available to motorcyclists but built-in inside suits or jackets. That accounted for more protection along with a higher price tag, restricting access for only those who could afford them. In 2019 Dainese launched the Smart Jacket, being the first major manufacturer to make a wireless motorcycle airbag vest available to the greater public.
I believe it was a game-changer. And to confirm that, other OEM manufacturers like Alpinestars or Klim soon followed.
Don’t get me wrong. It still is a 700$ piece of equipment. However, it is far from the 1000$ plus that I paid for an airbag vest that had to be paired with a compatible jacket just a few years ago. I will not get into the details, but having purchased 2, I left almost 3000$ in the dealership.
Early 2020 I got the Dainese Smart Jacket. Since then, I did plenty of riding with it. From the daily commuting to the weekend rides, and even to a mid-pandemic Lone-Rider European Alps Adventure Motorcycle Travel. The Italian brand motorcycle airbag vest revealed itself in a real-life Dainese Smart Jacket long-term review.
If you are looking for an upgrade to your riding safety plan, and you are considering the Dainese D-Air Smart Jacket, this review will tell you everything you need to know to make a good choice on your next airbag vest.
Everything You Need to Know About The Dainese Smart Jacket, Heads On:
- It protects the thorax, shoulders, and back.
- No tether. It’s a completely wireless and autonomous system.
- The outer shell is mainly in mesh fabric.
- Great ventilation.
- Can be worn under or over your existing jacket.
- Inside, adjustable velcro straps around the waist area provide adjustment.
- Compatible with all jacket brands as long there is enough room to accommodate the airbag inflation if worn under, 2in or 5cm are needed.
- The airbag itself, or “The Shield” is a patented airbag made of microfilaments.
- There is no rigid back protector integrated, but Dainese claims that “The Shield” shock absorption capability is equal to seven individual CE1 rated back protectors.
- You can wear a rigid back protector on your jacket. The same inner-room condition to inflate (2in or 5cm) applies.
- Chest protection meets or exceeds CE Level 2 for airbags.
- Inside there are seven onboard sensors. Gyroscopes, accelerometers, and GPS.
- An ECU calculates at a rate of 1000 per second the need to deploy the airbag.
- A complex algorithm detects lowsiders, highsiders, collisions with objects or other vehicles, and rear-end collisions.
- Deployment time is up to 45ms.
- It has a Led and haptic system to let you know off the airbag vest state.
- The battery lasts around 26 hours, while it charges in around 4 hours.
- Connections are done through a USB port and a dedicated desktop app, supported in both IOs and Windows. Firmware updates are easily done in the same manner. Bluetooth or mobile apps are not available.
- The Gas Cannisters are not replaceable by users. Once deployed, it needs the condition to be assessed by a technician at an authorized dealer.
- It requires 3-year maintenance intervals. A free check every 3 years, at authorized D-Air® centers is included by Dainese.
- Price is in line with the other smart-tech airbag vests.
- Available in 6 sizes and a Woman version.
- Not for off-road use.
- No race track mode.
Read the full review below or see the Dainese Smart Jacket compared to other motorcycle airbag vests.
The Dainese D-Air Smart Jacket
- Easy to use and store
- Compatible with every jacket
- Rear-end collision protection
- Great ventilation
- Lacks upper-arm protection
- No race or off-road mode
- No mobile App
The System and How It Works
Well, you probably know by now that the Dainese Smart Jacket, is not really an airbag jacket, but a vest.
The Dainese D®Air Smart Jacket uses seven onboard sensors that analyze and communicate with an ECU which Dainese refers to as “The Brain”. Calculations within the control unit are then made, at a rate of 1000 per second. A 360° integration with a gyroscope, accelerometer, and GPS provides the data for the complex algorithm to determine the need for airbag deployment. It will deploy if it detects lowsiders, highsiders, collisions with objects or other vehicles, and rear-end collisions.
Deployment time is up to 45ms
The Dainese Smart Jacket is powered up when the rider closes and connects the magnetic button on the neck. The blue LED light on the haptic system placed on the upper left chest, lets you know that the vest is in standby mode. It arms when the control unit senses the motorcycle vibrations, or when speed exceeds 6mph (10km/h). After switching to armed mode the vest delivers a vibration warning sign and turns the LED to green.
The Disarming procedure is equally simple and effective. If the rider disconnects the magnetic button on the collar, it disarms. And if the control unit senses no motorcycle engine vibrations it automatically switches to standby mode. So, there is no chance to accidentally inflate the airbag vest.
A word on the haptic system. At first, it seemed to be pretty strange to have gear vibrate on me. But it turned out to be a useful feature, especially if the airbag vest is worn under the jacket. Instead of having to open the jacket and visually checking the LED light color, the vibrations let you know if the airbag vest is armed.
If I’m wearing the Smart Jacket over any garment, the multi-LED located in the left upper chest area is easily visible on the motorcycle mirror.
Dainese has an approach focused on the airbag itself. It protects the thorax, abdomen, and spine, with no physical back protection added, although it is possible to add one in the jacket. That is, provided that there is enough space for the airbag to inflate (at least 2in or 5cm).
The core of the Smart Jacket, or as Dainese calls it “The Shield” is a patented airbag made of microfilaments. According to the manufacturer, it ensures a high shock absorption capability without the need for a hardshell protective gear, equal to seven individual CE1 rated back protectors. As for chest protection meets or exceeds CE Level 2 for airbags.
Also very worth noting that it protects you against a stationary rear-end collision. Or in order words, if you are stopped at a traffic sign or a traffic light. A word of caution: for the airbag to deploy in this situation, the motorcycle engine must be running for the sensors to detect the engine vibrations. If you ride an electric bike, the airbag vest is unable to detect vibrations. Therefore you are not protected in these situations.
Regarding the abrasion resistance claimed on the mesh fabric, I don’t think that it should be taken literally to assume that it is a top-of-the-line abrasion protective gear. It is a mesh motorcycle airbag vest, and it doesn’t feel like it. A good protective jacket over it would be a sounder choice.
Comfort and Ventilation
If you are looking for a motorcycle airbag vest, you probably already have accepted the idea that there is some degree of comfort sacrifice that comes with the improvement of protection.
Weighting 4lb or 1,8kg, the Dainese Smart Jacket is only really felt the first few rides. And the fact that it doesn’t have a rigid back protector integrated deeply contributes to the low weight and allows for minimal movement restriction.
Regarding airflow, the Smart Jacket is the best airbag vest out there. The fact that the outer shell is mesh fabric, really facilitates the airflow, especially on hot summer days. Of course, a motorcycle airbag vest is always another layer added, and wearing one is not the same thing as gearing up with only a fully vented summer jacket. Keeping the protection level while trying to cool down is not an easy task, however, on high-temperature days, I find that paring the Dainese Smart Jacket with a light jacket like the Rev’It Eclipse is a sound choice.
Bottom line, it’s more a getting used to a new layer, than anything else.
Tech Connections and Algorithm Firmware Updates
The Dainese Smart Jacket has a desktop App with dedicated Windows and iOS versions. Connections between the computer and the vest are done through a USB cable, in the same way as charging. While not in use and if transportation is needed, it is possible via the App, to set the airbag vest into shipping mode thus preventing unwanted inflation. On the Dainese D-Air® App, you can easily upgrade the firmware.
Use, Style, and Versatility
The Dainese D-Air Smart Jacket is intended only for street use. You can take it to very light off-road, but if subjected to jumps and serious strains, it could accidentally deploy.
A full battery charge takes 4h and will run for 26h.
Compared to the other motorcycle airbag vests on the market, the Smart Jacket is a simple, stylish garment that blends into your existing gear.
You can wear it over whatever piece you want without looking weird.
Versatility? With the Dainese Smart Jacket, I can’t even remember the day where the motion to unhook the tether lanyard needed to be part of a well-choreographed motorcycle dismounting routine.
Wear it under, over, wear it everywhere, and store it with ease. Easy to arm and disarm. It’s lightweight, and you can wear it seamlessly.
The Unwanted Part – After Deployment, Gas Canister Replacement, and The Price
As with other smart-tech motorcycle airbag vests, maintenance is required from time to time. I don’t think this should be a deterrent factor in opting for this airbag vest. After all, every rider wants to know if the protective gear they use is always in top shape. Dainese recommends and offers free maintenance checks every 3 years.
The Smart Jacket does not have the option of self replace the gas canister. Dainese states that to guarantee a full functioning product after each activation, the airbag vest must be taken to an official D-air® dealer for Shield maintenance, system recharging, activation and, post-activation inspection by an authorized technician. This operation costs 249.95$.
The Dainese Smart Jacket has a price tag of just under 700$, in line with its competitors.
If there is one thing that the Dainese Smart Jacket excels in, is in the easiness of use. It integrates seamlessly with my everyday life in a way that sometimes I forget I have got it under my jacket. And it doesn’t really matter what jacket I’m wearing, or if it’s a Dainese as well. Because it’s fully compatible with any jacket, of any brand, as long as there is enough room to accommodate the full expansion of the airbag vest when deployed, there is no need to worry about the right connection or the right zipper. It all fits in nicely where it is supposed to.
Arming and disarming is a breeze, and I can stop for the occasional coffee while traveling, without looking like I just came from outer space.
This happened multiple times during my Alps lone rider adv bike tour. Where I stopped multiple times to take pictures, to rest, to eat, to set camp, or even to stretch my legs. With no one else to take pictures, not one time I thought about disarming my airbag vest.
Comfort and ventilation are the best I found on motorcycle airbag vests, and stationary collision protection is a great plus.
On the downside, I wished that there was more upper arm protection.
Still, want more information and side by side comparison with the Dainese Smart Jacket alternatives? Check out 2WheelsOnRoad Best Motorcycle Airbag Vests Guide.
Let me know what you think of the review in the comment box below, and if you like it, please share it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.