If you ask any group of riders who makes the best motorcycle clothing, you’ll get plenty of different answers – but two names come up time and time again: Dainese and Alpinestars.
In our own review of the five best bike boots for summer, both brands were present. It would likely be the same for jackets, gloves, trousers, full race leathers… you name it.
But in a head-to-head battle of the brands, if you had to pick a winner, who would come out top? Who makes the very best bike gear?
For a Start, How Do You Judge?
Alpinestars and Dainese both have tremendous ranges. Whatever kind of motorbike clothing you’re looking for, they’ve got it. All the sizes, all the colours. If we tried comparing like-for-like, we’d be here all day. And tomorrow. Probably all year.
So how do you pick the best of the best? You go racing. If a race bike is the pinnacle of motorcycle engineering, it stands to reason that race leathers (and boots, and gloves), are the most advanced motorbike clothing. They’re the ones that incorporate the latest materials and technology.
The Best Bike Gloves
We’re giving the points here to Dainese. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Alpinestars GP gloves, it’s just that Dainese are, in our opinion, a more advanced product.
The Alpinestars GP Tech mitts are made of kangaroo hide – nothing wrong with that. They’re supple, with good finger protection, and we like the exhaust port that keeps your hands cool.
On the other hand (excuse the pun), the Dainese Full Metal are an excellent blend of old-school with high-tech. Cowhide is reinforced with kevlar. There’s goatskin for palm comfort, and titanium for knuckle protection. Oh, and a certain Mr Rossi wears them. That’s good enough for us.
The Best Bike Boots
Points for the best track boot go to Alpinestars.
The Dainese Nexus are popular. The zip and velcro closures are on the back, so there’s nothing to scratch your bike. There’s an external anti-twist system for your ankle, and high levels of protective from an inner nylon ‘hull’. They’re good boots, they’re just a bit uninspiring.
By comparison, the Alpinestars Supertech R boots look like something you go racing in, then wear to walk across the surface of Mars. The spec sounds like it came from NASA too: they’re ultra-light weight, they have ratchet strap closures, there’s accordion micro-fibre for comfort. They offer all the protection you’d expect, plus there’s a replaceable nylon heel plate and quick-change aluminium toe slider.
The Best Bike Leathers
The easy option here would be to declare it a draw. Nah, not us, but man is it close.
The Alpinestars GP Tech suit has a mix of cowhide and kangaroo that is claimed to give the overall construction more resilience. The Dainese D-Air Racing Misano suit counters with a mix of cowhide and bi-axial fabric inserts. Both offer superb levels of protection with a combination of soft protection where appropriate, plus aluminium and titanium inserts.
So what sets them apart? Both offer air-bag compatibility, but the Alpinestars system will cost you extra. With the Dainese it’s already built in. There’s no messing about putting two things together. The accelerometers, gyroscopes, and all the other bits and pieces are pre-fitted. There’s an LED interface on the right forearm. Charge the lithium polymer battery, suit up, go for it.
So who wins the battle of the brands, Alpinestars or Dainese?
In this test we got a two-to-one win for Dainese, but not everyone goes out and buys full race kit. If you compared touring gear, you might come up with a different result.
We also didn’t mention price. It has an impact, of course, but this isn’t about who is cheaper. When you’re buying the best motorcycle gear, you have to look at the money you spend as an investment. Unless you’re a professional racer, and don’t bin it in a major way, you’ll probably only buy one set of leathers. The same goes for motorbike boots and gloves of this quality.
No doubt some people will disagree with our choices, and that’s fair enough. In this review Dainese takes the crown. Another time it will be Alpinestars. Bike riders of all kinds are lucky to have two such exceptional ranges of motorcycle clothing to choose from.