Most MotoGP innovations never make it to the roadway—and for good reason. Carbon brakes, seamless gearboxes, and ride-height devices help set all-time lap records, but such complex tech is overkill for street use. Unlike all that bleeding-edge performance technologies, MotoGP gear advancements nearly always hit the consumer market and Dainese has led the airbag revolution with its D-Air system.
Debuting in the 2007 MotoGP season, D-Air has evolved over the last 15 years. In 2011, the brand introduced the D-Air Racing range for track use. Four years later, the road-going system brought Grand Prix-level protection to everyday riders. While Dainese’s MotoGP innovations trickled down to the road over time, D-Air's latest Smart Jacket street series doesn’t dilute that advanced tech.
The Italian firm launched the new line with the vest-styled Smart Jacket. The over/under-jacket unit prioritized versatility, but it couldn’t provide comprehensive protection on its own. By adding Pro-Armor-equipped sleeves to that original entry, the Smart Jacket LS offers a standalone option. After wearing the long-sleeve jacket for months—and deploying the airbag once—we can now say whether D-Air actually lives up to its MotoGP roots.
The Brains of the Operation
Before we dive into the Smart Jacket experience, it’s important to explain how the system works. Dainese outfits the LS with a gyroscope and accelerometer. The brand’s proprietary algorithm monitors those sensor inputs 1,000 times per second and deploys the airbag when it detects a slide or a high-side crash.
As opposed to D-Air's race-oriented family, the Smart Jacket adapts to road use by registering lateral, head-on, and rear-end collisions as well. Dainese reports that the inflated airbag delivers protection comparable to seven back protectors (CE Level 1) and regular system updates ensure that the customer uses the latest MotoGP-derived algorithm.
All that technical mumbo jumbo sounds complex on paper, but D-Air couldn’t make the Smart Jacket’s operation any simpler. The user merely connects the magnetic buttons at the inner collar and the system takes it from there. The jacket even vibrates several times when the magnets make contact, letting the rider know it’s operable. Off the bike, the color-coded breast badge glows blue, indicating that the jacket remains in standby mode and won’t deploy the airbag.
Gallery: Dainese D-Air Smart Jacket LS
As soon as the Smart Jacket detects engine vibration, the LED interface changes to green. This switches the system’s sensor and airbag into active mode. The D-Air jacket's 26-hour battery cycle includes both active and standby intervals. Those looking to conserve charge can disconnect the magnetic collar at pit stops, but the breast badge flashes red (every five seconds) when the jacket starts running out of juice.
In those instances, the LS remains useable, but the system sends haptic and visual reminders for the user to connect the unit at their earliest convenience. Luckily, those alerts aren’t last-minute notifications. During an extended ride, the D-Air jacket soldiered on for three hours after the initial low-battery signal. That generous warning period accommodates commuters and long-distance travelers alike. When the user finally reaches an outlet, the Smart Jacket fully recharges in four hours, helping riders get back on the road without sacrificing protection.
Get In Where You Fit In
D-Air matches the Smart Jacket’s simplistic operation with a simple, timeless design. Similar to most Dainese gear, the jacket favors a trim, form-fitting silhouette. The classic styling and slim cut may appeal to a broad array of riders, but the Smart Jacket’s lack of waist, arm, or cuff adjusters doesn’t accommodate diverse body shapes and sizes.
Standing at five feet, 10 inches, and weighing 160 pounds, the D-Air jacket fit my dimensions like a tailored blazer. Even with Pro-Armor (Level 2 CE) protectors at the elbows and shoulders, the LS’s abrasion-resistant outer shell contoured to my proportions. That mesh construction also enhanced airflow at speed. Unfortunately, the airbag bladders located at the chest and back obstructed ventilation to my core, but the arms admitted a refreshing breeze.
While the Smart Jacket’s streamlined cut and classic styling go light on the eyes, the D-Air system doesn’t feel so light on the body. The airbag apparatus pushes the LS’s weight up to four pounds. Dainese also positions the two airbag canisters between the user’s back (latissimus dorsi) and oblique muscles. That rib-sticking weight isn’t distracting in the saddle, but off the steed, the Smart Jacket can quickly become cumbersome.
On most occasions, gear reviews end with some variation of, “Fortunately, I didn’t test the jacket’s crash protection.” I can’t claim to know the Smart Jacket’s low-side, high-side, or collision integrity, but a minor tip over verified D-Air's vigilant oversight. At such a slow clip, the airbag easily inflated before I ever hit the ground. Though, I didn’t actually register the unit’s deployment until much later.
With equal parts adrenaline and embarrassment clouding my senses, I only realized the airbag activated after I humbly rolled back to my feet. This modest tumble didn’t truly test the Smart Jacket’s abrasion resistance or Pro-Armor protectors, but it reassured me that the system would have my back in the event of a rear-end collision.
Setting off the Smart Jacket required little effort on my part, and Dainese made replacing the airbags a complete no-brainer. I dropped off the jacket at my local Dainese store and received the reconditioned article in less than a month. For $250, the replacement process isn’t a cheap option. When it comes to keeping the ultra-protective Smart Jacket in commission, though, that price tag seems like a reasonable compromise.
Of course, that $250 service fee only tacks on to the D-Air Smart Jacket LS’s $899.95 MSRP. Still, the Dainese airbag jacket remains a bargain in my book. Even considering its hefty weight and its bulky back section, I would pick the Smart Jacket over all non-airbag competitors. I did just that on most occasions. Unless the ride required a specialized jacket (adventure, sport, touring, etc.), I selected the D-Air every time.
In that sense, the Smart Jacket is a great generalist. Whether you’re cutting through urban traffic, meandering around canyon curves, or barreling down the highway, the LS will meet the moment. The airbag, Pro-Amor pads, and advanced tech already merit the Smart Jacket’s use, but its refined fit, intuitive operation, and clever interface distinguish it as the clear go-to option in my closet. Dainese's D-Air system is one of the only MotoGP innovations to make it to the roadway—for more than a few good reasons.