Genetically speaking, I feel like I am a bit of an oddity. I am a true 6’2″ in height (not a Tinder 6’2″, which is more like 5’9″ mind you). So, that’s 190cm of Jensen Beeler, coming at yah.
I mention this because I was reading recently that for humans, something seemingly as basic as height isn’t controlled by a single gene. In fact, there are about 700 genes that factor into how tall we are.
It is a fascinating concept on how the DNA from our parents interacts to make us who we are. For instance, despite my tall stature, my parents are pretty much right in the middle of things: my father was 5’8″ and my mother 5’6″.
I could make a joke about having a tall mailman growing up, but really I get my height from my mother’s father, who was six-foot on the dot. I got his red hair too, which went white when I was a teenager, just like all the rest of the grey-haired Beeler progeny. We must get our hair attributes from a number of genes as well then.
Despite being tall, I have a relatively normal inseam, of 32 inches, which means I make most of my height in my torso. I have broad shoulders too, but like my father, I have short arms (thankfully, not quite as short as his).
I have small feet and hands, so it is size 10 shoes for me (with a high arch), and “small” size gloves in most brands. My head is a large in just about every helmet though, which makes for an interesting bookend on the sizing spectrum.
The point that I am trying to drive home here is that we are all very different people when it comes to our body shapes. There is no simple break down of putting humans into categories like small, medium, and large.
We are more complicated than that…and so should the items we wear.
Not Even Close to One Size Fits All
Making matters even more complicated in the apparel space is that sizing not only varies from person to person, but also brand to brand. A size 54 in one brand, is not necessarily a 54 in another…and sometimes two same-sized items from the same brand aren’t actually cut the same way.
Now, I fit pretty well in most of the off-the-rack suits from the major brands, and if I was just a casual motorcyclist, an off-the-rack item would more than fulfill my needs.
But as I pointed out, not everyone fits neatly into the sizing constraints made by the makers of motorcycle gear, and so these people need a custom solution.
And for someone like myself, who spends many a weekend walking around in a leather racing suit, there is considerable value in wearing a bespoke garment tailored to my exact curves, tastes, and dimensions. If I am going to spend
hours days of my life in this thing, it better fit right and look good, no?
This is where the Dainese Custom Works program comes in, and it surprises me that the Italian brand is the only major apparel manufacturer in the motorcycle industry offering a custom tailored suit, jacket, and pants program.
Long time A&R readers will know of my Custom Works experience from five years ago, so I won’t rehash too much from that here. And nor should I, as much has changed in just a few year’s time.
Custom Works 2.0
Where as five years ago, I sat down with a Dainese store employee and spent hours going over just basic items, like colors, designs, and logos, that whole process has now been moved online to a website.
The Dainese Custom Works builder is actually a pretty slick piece of internet, and within minutes you can be pointing and clicking your way to your custom race suit.
While there is a mild entertainment to this (of note, you can share your designs with friends and colleagues – see my work above), there are two very real practical benefits to this new system.
First off, you understand better what you are getting when you can see it on the screen, and spin it around with the 3D viewer. It can be hard to visualize what is on paper to what you will be wearing, but the 3D viewer makes the experience pretty close to what your suit will look like when it arrives.
Second, the web interface removes any ambiguity of what you are asking of Dainese’s tailors, and what the Italian brand will build for you. What you see is what you get…as it should be, with no miscommunications.
I will admit that things get a little bit more tricky when it comes to placing logos and patches, which you upload to the website, which it in-turn awkwardly places. But, this is mitigated by the design still being double-checked and confirmed by a human at Dainese.
The next steps are a familiar process. You go to a participating dealership that carries Dainese, or you make a trek to one of the company’s now many corporate stores (the one in Las Vegas is having its grand opening, as I type this), and you get measured up.
After that, you pay the man, and wait a while – in my case, about six months. The suits get handmade in Italy by Dainese’s seamstresses, and then shipped to you when it is done.
Some Words About Why I am Wearing the Dainese Misano 2 D-Air Suit
Before I get too far, I want to make a plea for wearing airbag-equipped jackets and suits. The big driving force behind my getting a new custom suit from Dainese wasn’t that I had worn out my old one, but it was because I wanted an airbag-equipped suit in my closet.
I am a huge believer in airbag technology. It works, it is effective, and it is relatively cheap. I can almost guarantee that your out-of-pocket expenses for a collarbone surgery will be more than the cost of an airbag-equipped suit or jacket.
Check my math, but your mileage should be the same, especially when you factor in the value of your time and the 8-week recovery period for a collarbone break.
I believe in this technology so much, I won’t wear a suit or jacket now that doesn’t have an airbag in it, and while it is easy for a moto-journalist to say that, since we get freebie suits and jackets all the time, understand that I have put several thousand of my own dollars where my mouth is on this opinion. I have done the collarbone thing. I am cool not doing it again.
That being said, for this go around with Dainese, I picked the new Misano 2 suit. This is the newest D-Air airbag suit from the Italian brand, and it boasts some impressive figures.
The Dainese Misano 2 uses a third-generation D-Air airbag system, and this is a big deal for riders because the new airbag design is 37% lighter than before. I believe the marketing hype on that, too.
Raiding my closest full of moto gear, I found that my Dainese Misano 2 suit is only three pounds heavier than its predecessor, and that the airbag system is two pounds lighter than the second-generation D-Air airbag.
Add in a hydration option for the hump, a battery that can last two race weekends (or more?), elbow sliders, and Dainese’s suit-over-boot design, and you have one feature-rich suit. The only way it could be nicer is if it was made from kangaroo hide…maybe next year, Dainese?
The Custom Difference
Over the past nine months, I have been getting a lot of mileage out of my custom Dainese Misano 2 suit. For starters, I have been racing with it all season long, and I have also had a few press launches on the race track with it.
On arrival, the suit looked exactly as it did online. Trying it on, the sizing was spot-on, which was something I was worried about, since I didn’t have time to have the suit go back for alterations.
Comfortable out of the box, it of course takes a day or so to really break in a new leather suit. But, with custom tailoring, that process is shorter and a bit less painful than something off-the-rack.
Lucky for me, but not so lucky for this story, I am not much of a crasher, so I have yet to test the airbag feature in the wild. But, I can say that there is a certain piece of mind knowing that there is an active safety system wrapped around me, especially while racing.
I am not sure why other brands don’t offer a similar service to the Dainese Custom Works program, but I am glad that a pillar in the motorcycle safety space is offering something like this to us two-wheeled enthusiasts.
For some riders, a custom suit is a vanity thing, where they want to stand out, have a unique design, or mimic their racing heroes. For others, their body shapes require tailored fits for maximum safety and comfort.
I am not making the case the Dainese Custom Works program is for everyone, because it is not. The vast majority of riders are fin with the “regular” suits you find online or at a shop (but please, please, please make sure it is an airbag-equipped suit!).
But, I do think there is some value in what Dainese provides via its Custom Works program. For a 25% price mark up ($630) over the off-the-rack suit, you can design your own custom leathers to stand out on the race track; and for a 30% markup ($750), you get a suit custom tailored to your body that fits like a glove.
By themselves, those are pretty good options with some decent return on investment. They are worth it in my book.
On the other hand though, with both of those options selected, my suit would cost me just over $4,000 of my hard-earned blogging dollars, which is a princely sum and harder to justify.
Like I said at the beginning of this story, despite my odd proportions genetically speaking, I fit into most off-the- rack suits. But, I know more than a few people with body shapes that fall outside the standard deviation of leather suit sizes.
If it wasn’t for Dainese and their Custom Works program, then they wouldn’t be out ripping and tearing on the track. For them, the price of admission is easily worth it, and that is something for the apparel side of this industry to think about as a whole.
In terms of feeling and being treated like Valentino Rossi and the lot, this is as close as it gets too, since they use the same process and seamstresses. When you think about it, that’s pretty cool too.