Dainese Dynamo Armor Jacket / compression top
Reviewer: 6’2”, 200lbs
I don’t often ride my DH bike with an upper body pad because they’re hot, don’t breathe, and just get disgusting. However, I am officially old and tired of constantly being banged up. On top of that, my wife is sick of blood stains on the sheets, so I went to replace my compression top with something that offered the critical safety components, but was light and more breathable than a full compression top.
I selected the Dainese Dynamo top, as it is made of a highly breathable polyester material and has pads only where I want them. The Dynamo consists of a heavy-duty spine pad—made from a combination of memory foam and the Dainese-patented steel grid—light, but effective moulded shoulder, and memory foam elbow pads. There are no chest pads or kidney belts on this jacket.
I found that the jacket fit comfortably out of the box, in the body and arms, but was surprised to see no thumb loops, nor any tightening strap to anchor the elbow pads. This was a concern since the elbow pads deflect right out of the way and offer minimal protection when they aren’t anchored to the arm. My solution was to slice small slits in the arm sleeves right next to the cuff to create my own thumb loops. This has proven effective in keeping the elbow pads in place while riding and crashing. If I cared a little more about tightening, I would hand-stitch a small length of ribbon for lower bulk under my gloves. Once the elbow pads were anchored down tightly to my arms, they proved very effective in protecting my arm from shredding, and the exposed material on the elbow has shown no wear after numerous crashes.
The shoulder pads are adequate protection against the odd tree branch or road rash, but they will not take a huge impact the way a hard plastic pad found on a true compression suit would. This is not of concern to me, personally, as I tuck and roll when I fall. If it were possible, I would remove the shoulder pad completely; but as it is, the shoulder pads are unobtrusive, and offer a nice amount of protection from scrapes and cuts.
The spine protector on the Dynamo is BURLY, and very large. I find that when I bend my head back, the top of the pad touches my helmet, and the bottom will occasionally catch my shorts when walking. I have no issue with it while riding my bike, but I have a very long torso for my height. If I could, I would trim back an inch on the top and bottom of the pad, but the pad is laminated into the jacket and is structurally required. The back pad is pretty hot and gets you way more sweaty than the lightness of the jacket would indicate. In reality this is a major plus, since the big thing, in my eyes, is having a very robust and effective spine-protection piece. This is a trade-off I’m willing to make.
There is no chest protection on this jacket, which I prefer. It really opens up your breathing and allows for more wind to hit you and cool you down. I have never lanced myself while riding, and don’t see it happening, personally.
The polyester material the Dynamo jacket is constructed from has stretched a bit after 15 days of use, and is starting to get a little baggy in my arms. The upper body still fits great. I am concerned that the elbow protection may become less snug, and therefore lose its protection. If that happens, I would stop wearing the top.
All in all, the Dynamo does everything I hoped. It is far lighter and more breathable than a full compression top and offers good protection in the vital locations. This jacket would also make a great piece for skiing. However, there are several issues in the fit and finish that leave something to be desired. I am happy with the purchase and think the top is a nice piece to own, but it is far from perfect.