Cruiser Tested - Web Exclusive - Dainese Arizona Jacket

(November 2007)

Now that fall is upon us, it's time to put away those mesh and perforated jackets and think about some serious cowhide. The Dainese Arizona Jacket hits the mark and then some. On the style side, the Arizona is both a classic, front-zip motorcycle jacket while simultaneously up-to-date fashionable. In addition to the leather shell, it comes with a full thermal liner that zips and snaps in and out. The leather feels soft - not "fashion" soft - but sturdy, a full grain cowhide throughout. Pockets abound, with two on the waist, two on the chest, one on the inside left (positioned below the ribs) and one on the inside of the removable liner on the inside right (also positioned below the ribs). There's a double-layer leather windflap inside the main zipper and the fold-down collar, zipped up in the stand up position, is chin high. The sleeve ends have a gusseted zipper and hook-and-loop tab to make getting in the jacket easy while keeping the sleeve securely closed. There's a piece of stretch Kevlar at the sleeve cuff which allows a bit of venting if you're wearing short gloves but won't let air in if your gloves have gauntlets on them. The Arizona has a full lining made of polyester mesh, there's a loop at the top to hang the jacket from a hook and a -length zipper inside to attach the jacket to Dainese pants. There is also a two-position flap on each side of the waist for better before and after dinner riding comfort. The removable liner is all nylon, using an insulating material called Valtherm (not to be confused with Valtrex, which is an entirely different matter). While the liner extends the comfort range into the lower temperatures, it's easy to remove and there are zippered vents at the waist and shoulders to extend the comfort range into warm weather.

And, if the rubber side ever goes up, the quality leather and stitching found throughout the Arizona jacket should protect your hide ably. Also, there is CE-approved plastic-and-foam armor in the elbows/forearms and shoulders (all removable) and a zippered pocket in back to hold a Dainese Wave G back protector (and probably any number of other back protectors). From our experience with Dainese products, the Arizona Jacket should be exceptionally durable and provide for years of wear.

How does it wear? In a word, great. And at a premium price of $549, it should be great. From the first time you put it on, it's like an old friend - it feels like it's already broken in quite well. And on bike, the cut of the jacket and sleeves is perfect, working on cruisers and other motorcycles with equal comfort. Another nice thing about the cut of the jacket is that there wasn't any sleeve flutter at freeway speeds. The jacket has a nice "heft" to it, not heavy, but rather substantial, such that within the jacket, you'll be secure from whatever the road has to throw at you - including the road. As it is an all leather jacket, once the temperature is up to the low 70s, it's time to open the vents, which are helpful for keeping you cool, especially at freeway speeds. On the flip side, you won't need the thermal liner until the weather drops down to at least the low 60s, if not colder. The jacket should be comfortable throughout the fall and spring and depending on where you live, maybe straight through the winter. The only nit we have to pick is that the zipper pulls could be larger for easy grasping while wearing gloves.

So for $549, you've got excellent materials, great design, quality construction, exceptional functionality and long-term durability. That's a top product in our book. Any questions?

- Evan Kay