What’s in a motorcycle jacket?
Not just the looks, that’s for sure! With motorcycle clothing and gear, it’s always about safety more than anything else.
A quality jacket’s main purpose is to act like a kind of armor for your upper body half – against the elements, but also any kind of impact in case of a fall or a crash.
So the best motorcycle jacket is the one that gives you the protection you need while still looking fashionable enough that you don’t dread taking it out of the closet.
A leather motorcycle jacket is always going to offer you far more protection than textile or your average mesh jacket due to the abrasion-resistant qualities of leather. Even some of the best textile motorcycle jackets that incorporate Cordura, a synthetic material similar to nylon, aren’t going to withstand the same level of abuse.
And when you’re sliding along the tarmac at 80 mph and covering a distance that seems as if it will never end, those extra seconds are going to mean all the difference between making your way back home with a scratch or two and spending weeks in the hospital trying to find suitable skin for a skin graft.
Textile jackets, on the other hand, are great for flowing a ton of air and keeping you cool and dry so we’re still going to include a few of those too in our review. You’ll just need to moderate how extreme you get when out on the road.
But first, let’s see what you need to keep in mind when shopping for a motorcycle jacket – whether it’s a men’s or a women’s jacket.
Things to Consider When Buying a Moto Jacket
Leather vs Textile?
Leather seems to be the go-to material when it comes to the best motorcycle jackets.
Indeed, your poster biker blasting a monstrous machine through the desert will be wearing leather, head to toe.
But contrary to what most people think, your biker jacket does NOT have to be made of leather in order to do its job.
Textile can be waterproof too. Plus it lets your upper half breathe better than either natural or faux leather does.
It’s also much lighter and more flexible than its counterpart.
And when you imagine a textile jacket, there’s no reason to think of nice and soft cotton. On the contrary – biker textile jackets are made of synthetic materials so that they repel water and ward off wind.
True enough, rugged leather provides better safety. But like I said above, it’s up to you to make the call and determine your priorities.
How much padding is enough?
Dedicated motorcycle jackets will have a padding to soften the external impact, or even a full-blown body armor.
Of course, if you’re riding more aggressively, you should look for armored jackets that will protect your vital parts, primarily the chest, back and abdomen.
The next in line of priority are your larger joints such as shoulders, elbows, and knees.
If the jacket you’re eyeing doesn’t have removable armor inserts, you can buy them separately or get an armored vest to wear below.
Now, just like helmets need to meet certain safety ratings, these armor inserts can have them too.
You may come across CE Level 1 and CE Level 2 ratings of armor. Both are European safety standards, but they are also recognized in the US as the highest standards globally. So, if you use armor, let it be CE approved armor.
But what’s the difference between the two? Both are fine, but if you want the highest possible level of safety for your riding jacket, go for Level 2.
This concern has to do with the climate you live in, the climates you traverse with your bike, as well as whether you’re a seasonal biker.
Not all jackets were made equal. Some are waterproof, others merely water-repellent. Still, others are focused on hot or cold climates with features such as removable thermal liners that help the rider warm up or cool off.
If you’re not driving seasonally and live in a continental climate, your go-to choice should probably be an adventure jacket. It’s extremely comfortable and usually has a removable lining that you can put in and out. It will protect you from nearly any elements you can imagine.
If you want another super versatile piece with a more sporty look, a touring jacket will probably be a wise option as it’s made to withstand nearly any climate while being comfortable for long rides.
In other words, know your needs and circumstances!
There are two contrasting “schools” of thought when it comes to the color of your jacket and other riding gear.
The first one always goes for the traditional, black biker clothes. Partly due to the fact that black is cool, and partly because it’s important how you look when you get off the bike and into the crowd. These folks will most often pick a classic cruiser jacket.
The second one puts safety first, insisting on bright and even fluorescent, high visibility colors as they usually are in a sportbike or racing jacket. Conspicuousness doesn’t guarantee that a crash or collision won’t happen, but it certainly reduces the chances.
If your motorcycle’s colors are very conspicuous, you can probably afford to get clad in black, though.
Top 6 Best Motorcycle Jackets Reviewed
Best Overall – Joe Rocket Classic ’92
Joe Rocket Classic 92
Casual styled leather biker jacket perfect for cruisers and sports bikes.
Available in black or vintage brown leather, the Classic ’92 is perfect for cruisers and sports bikes alike. We especially like the casual look as bright race replica colors aren’t always great for blending in and look out of place once you’re off the bike.
On the other hand, you could easily wear the ’92 as a jacket even when you’ve left your bike at home.
Sadly, no armor is present so you’re going to need to buy a CE certified set of elbow and shoulder pads as well as the prerequisite back protector.
What you do get is a zip in, zip outliner which is going to make this jacket 3 /4 seasons depending on where you live. The cowhide leather here is roughly 1.2mm thick which is more than enough for scraping yourself along the road.
Sizing runs a little large so you may find yourself sizing down one full size.
Best for Track Racing – Dainese Racing D1
Need a proper racing motorcycle jacket?
Everyone has heard of Dainese, or at least seen their trademark logo when out and about. Considered to be the pinnacle of motorcycle safety gear, Dainese have used their racing pedigree to bring us the Racing D1.
Relatively casual in appearance but sporting a technical race fit, the Dainese Racing D1 is perfect for street or track.
With the D1, the jacket itself is CE certified to level 2, not just the armor as you’ll find with most jackets. All of the stitching used to craft this jacket has been reinforced across all panels, leaving you safe in the knowledge that you’ll be protected should the worst happen.
The fit is slim and athletic so you muscular types will need to size up to get your arms and shoulders sitting comfortably.
This jacket is a step above the Alpinestars Jaws (see below) so is perfect for all of you aspiring speed demons.
Best Budget Option – Joe Rocket Velocity
Joe Rocket Velocity
Has contoured armor in the arms and shoulders as well as a removable waterproof liner.
The first textile option is the Velocity from Joe Rocket.
As luck would have it, it’s also very affordable as far as quality jackets go.
This jacket incorporates quite a lot of mesh, which adds to comfort but is going to offer less protection than the below GT-R. You can almost consider it a mesh motorcycle jacket in its own right.
What you do get is contoured armor in the arms and shoulders as well as a removable waterproof liner.
Plenty of flexibility is provided due to the mesh construction and the jacket is very comfortable.
Protection or comfort, it’s your call. Due to its rather low abrasion resistance, it’s not in any way comparable with adventure motorcycle jackets.
Best Vintage Jacket – Joe Rocket Vintage Rocket
Joe Rocket Vintage Rocket
A vintage jacket with plenty of pockets inside and out and removable thermal lining.
Similar to the Classic ’92, the Vintage Rocket offers even more of a casual twist but gets rid of those white stripes for a blacked-out look. The look and feel of this thing as well as the attention to detail are staggering, especially when you take into account the price point.
Plenty of pockets are available, both inside and out, all fitted with sturdy YKK zippers.
Again, armor is sold separately as with most Joe Rocket jackets but it is available fairly cheaply so it shouldn’t pose an issue.
You’ll be pleased to know you’ll still get a removable liner which provides some much-needed warmth in the colder months and the outer shell is again 1.2mm cowhide. Although a classic American fit, sizing runs pretty much true so make sure you consult the size chart.
Best Sports Leather Motorcycle Jacket – Alpinestars Jaws Perforated Jacket
For all you part time MotoGP riders, Alpinestars has a great jacket for you. Available in a range of garish colors, aspiring Rossi’ and Marquez’ will feel right at home.
With Alpinestar Jaws Perforated Jacket, you’re getting something much more technical and race-inspired than your average casual leather jacket.
The fit itself is completely different and is designed to complement you when you’re in a race tuck. That said, the stretch paneling present under the arms means you’re able to move them with ease so this jacket should be suitable for all types of bike.
The leather is 1.4mm thick, offering you some of the best abrasion protection available.
CE certified shoulder and elbow armor come fitted as standard, leaving you to purchase the back protector of your choice. You’re also getting built-in padding to the chest and back for added comfort and protection.
A removable thermal liner and loads of perforation tops off the great feature set of this jacket. The perforation is going to give you the airflow and cooling capability of textiles but with all the protection of leather. You might find yourself sizing up in this one due to the more fitted design.
Best Textile Motorcycle Jacket – Rev’It GT-R Air
Rev’It have been a staple on the motorcycle gear scene for years and provide a cost-conscious range of options that still perform.
The GT-R Air is your standard low profile textile jacket incorporating a small amount of mesh. Tons of airflow but as stated, won’t offer as much crash protection as leather.
The outer shell is high density 600D polyester so is still far better than denim or other textile materials.
Shoulders and elbow protection is present but you’re on your own with the back protector which is only available separately.
This jacket does fit very well and could be described as a tailored slim fit. People love it and it is one of Rev’It best sellers as a relatively low cost but a functional jacket.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is any leather jacket good for motorcycle?
Any leather may be more rugged and durable than any textile. However, a classic leather jacket won’t be able to withstand the kind of abuse that happens even in the mildest crash.
Like I said above, a leather motorcycle jacket will have special padding, plus armor plates – or at least special pockets where you can put them.
What is the best winter motorcycle jacket?
A textile motorcycle jacket can be a decent performer, but leather is certainly the best choice.
It’s a good insulator against the winds, snow and rain, but it will be cold unless it has rich thermal lining.
Why do bikers wear leather jackets?
A classic motorcycle jacket is still made of leather, and there are good reasons for it.
First of all, leather is very durable and versatile, and much more abrasion resistant than any kind of textile or mesh.
Secondly, it’s usually stylish enough to appeal to the cruiser rider who wants to sport their jacket on and off the bike.
Its only downside is relatively low breathability, which can be a year-round issue. However, manufacturers usually address it by providing breathable inner lining.
Wrap Up – Choosing A Motorcycle Jacket
Here at Motorbike Secure, we all ride in leather. Keeping cool is secondary to keeping hold of your original skin so we prefer to cook in the Sun every time. This can be reduced with a perforated leather jacket which we find to be the best of both worlds. The choice is yours!
And if you’re still not convinced, riding in suitable gear instead of a t-shirt or vest provides you with plenty of extra storage space for the safekeeping of essentials such as your motorcycle helmet lock and the other important items you regularly ride with.