Dainese Rhyolite Jacket

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Dainese Rhyolite Jacket - front
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Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket

Rating: Vital Review

Review by Justin Schroth // Photos by Justin Schroth, Dave Smutok, and Ryan Thibault

Dainese has long been in the body armor game and carries with it a reputation for creating some of the best protective equipment on the market for those who love to point their wheels downhill or twist the throttle to the red line. When I first cut my teeth on downhill in the late 90s, it seemed like the go-to protection for pro racers was the Dainese Gladiator or Shuttle Pro full body suit, but it carried with it a pretty hefty price tag for a weekend warrior like myself. In addition to price, the biggest hurdle to overcome when convincing riders to wear body armor was the restrictive feel and over-heating that most of us encountered on a hot summer day. Dainese has looked to tackle both of these issues with the new Rhyolite Body Armor, aiming at hitting a balance between proper protection with breathability and comfort in what remains a premium offering.

Highlights

  • Back protector - Crash Absorb® memory retention material certified to EN 1621/2 Level 2
  • Elbow and shoulder protectors - Pro shape coupled with Crash Absorb® certified according to the EN 1621.1 standard.
  • Protective structures are extremely flexible and contour to the body shape
  • Removable sleeves
  • Silicon insert on the waist
  • Perforated protective structures
  • Breathable jersey
  • MSRP - $299.95 USD

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice is the flexibility of the Rhyolite Jacket's padding. The Crash Absorb® material used throughout is similar to the D30, in that it remains flexible to conform to the shape of your body, but then stiffens upon impact. Getting into the Rhyolite jacket was quite simple and easy. The sleeves are open in the armpit and didn't make me feel like I was trying to put on a wetsuit.

On the Trail

The jacket seemed to conform to the shape of my shoulders and chest quite easily, and felt more like a compression top instead of a turtle shell floating around my back, arms, and shoulders. The back protector is composed of two independent layers that are able to slide back and forth. Combined with the silicon band around the inside waistband, the Rhyolite jacket rarely shifted or rode up on my torso. Although there is no cutout for the rear portion of a neck brace, the pads are pretty thin and I didn’t see much of a decreased range of motion when looking up (note that this really depends on the helmet/brace combo).

One thing I enjoyed was not having a kidney belt waistband digging into my love handles as I rode, but this may be a toss up as you do lose the protection in that area with any major impact. Zip off sleeves were a VERY welcome treat on the Rhyolite jacket, especially for those trails that might not require the full elbow protection, or when looking to cool down on the way up.

Things That Could Be Improved

Although not as warm as other body armor I’ve tested, the stretch material covering the inside/outside of the Rhyolite jacket is a tight weave and ventilation could be improved a bit with open mesh material in some areas like the chest, rear, and side panels to allow for more airflow. On a low 80s day I was still pretty warm after a few hot laps at Highland Mountain Bike Park (shameless plug). I also wish the rear back protector extended down a few more inches to help cover the lower spine better. And finally, at $300, the Rhyolite jacket is near the top of the price range of similar body armor jackets.

Long Term Durability

Although I have thankfully had no all-out crashes wearing the Rhyolite body armor yet, I’ve put my shoulder and forearms into some smaller trees while riding and was not phased by the impact. All of the seams are strong and properly stitched with no loose strings and I have no doubts that true to Dainese's reputation the Rhyolite will hold up to many seasons of abuse.

What's The Bottom Line?

Compared to some of the other body armor I’ve owned over the years, this has to be of the most comfortable and least restrictive body armor jackets I’ve worn for a day of downhill - and all this without making me look like a hockey player. While not offering the full protection of a hard shell suit, this is a great middle ground for those looking for a bit more protection without sacrificing riding comfort.

Visit www.dainese.com for more information.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

Specifications

Product Dainese Rhyolite Jacket
Riding Type Freeride / Bike Park, Downhill
Pad Type Soft Shell
Material Jersey Hole 4 Way Stretch, Highly Breathable and Run-Resistant
Coverage Full Suite
Sizes S, M, XL, XXL
Color Black
Miscellaneous Removable Sleeves // Breathable Jersey Holl and Perforated Protective Structures for Temperature Control
Price $299.95
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Dainese Website

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