Best Motorcycle Jackets: Stylish Leather & Textile Jackets With Superior Protection
The top motorcycle jackets to make your ride safe and enjoyable.
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BY Noelle Talmon / LAST UPDATED ON April 19, 2021
When you ride, you need proper gear, including a high-quality motorcycle jacket. You can take your bike out practically all-year round if you have the appropriate outerwear, which is why it's a good idea to choose a jacket that is suitable for the climate in which you live. Some jackets are designed for three/four-season use, while others are dedicated summer jackets. It can be tough to choose one because there are so many options available. Check out our guide below for some of the best motorcycle jackets available on the market.
This jacket accommodates three/four season riding and is great for adventure and sport-touring riders. It has multiple pockets, vents, and other convenient features.
- Back, chest, elbow, and shoulder armor
- Plenty of airflow
- Adjustable for comfort
- No liners
- Zippers can be tough to open with winter gloves
Casual, good-looking, and lined. It has CE-certified armor in the shoulders, elbows, and spine.
- Textile fabric provides ventilation
- Removable liner
- Too warm for summer weather
- Collar may feel scratchy
This jacket is designed for spring/summer riding due to its breathable properties. It includes CE-certified armor and is abrasion and tear-resistant.
- Moisture wicking
- Excellent airflow
- Multiple pockets
- Won’t stick to your body
- May feel tight if you have large arms
- May feel a little stiff until you break it in
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Benefits of Motorcycle Jackets
- Be safe. It’s important to wear a jacket even in the summer. Shorts and a t-shirt don't provide adequate protection to your extremities in the event of a crash. Whether it’s cool or warm outside, the best protective motorcycle jacket will shield your body from harm.
- Be comfortable. Top-rated motorcycle jackets will give you an extra layer of protection against the weather. If it's cold outside, a jacket will keep you warm. If it's raining, it will keep you dry.
- Be stylish. Leather jackets are often regarded as the most fashionable type of biker outerwear, but you can also opt for a sporty look by choosing a stylish textile jacket.
Types of Motorcycle Jackets
Cruiser-oriented jackets tend to be more fashionable and comfortable than other types of motorcycle jackets. They are not the best motorcycle jackets for protection because they don't have body armor. These casual, classic jackets are versatile and can be worn on and off the bike.
Sport jackets are either leather or abrasion-resistant textile, and contain advanced armor and impact-absorbing materials for protection. The best sport motorcycle jacket is form-fitting and has an aerodynamic design to accommodate high speeds and mobility on the bike. These jackets are often made of high-quality materials and are rigorously tested to provide optimum performance.
If you do a lot of long-distance riding, you need the best motorcycle touring jacket. These jackets tend to be quite comfortable and often have several features that make them convenient if you're riding for an extended period of time. Typically, they have removable liners and layers, multiple pockets, and a waterproof exterior. Some premium touring jackets even have built-in heating systems.
Adventure riders are exposed to unpredictable terrain, so they require riding gear that is tough enough to withstand a variety of conditions—both on asphalt and more rugged forest roads. Adventure jackets are typically made of a strong, nylon shell that keeps you from getting scraped or bruised. These jackets are also constructed of breathable and waterproof materials.
Off-road motorcycle jerseys are primarily built to provide abrasion protection on loose dirt surfaces, and breathability in physically-demanding track sessions. They are lightweight and offer unparalleled mobility, but they also offer very little protection. Jerseys are meant to be worn over off-road armor, such as a chest protector and neck brace.
The best leather motorcycle jackets provide comfort, style, and safety. Leather motorcycle jackets protect your body against road rash caused by sliding across asphalt better than any textile option. They are usually made of cowhide, but some use alternatives like goat or kangaroo leather. These more exotic leathers are thinner and softer, but still strong. Perforated leather offers increased ventilation in hot weather and strikes a compromise between the protection of leather and the comfort of textile.
Textile jackets offer less abrasion resistance than leather. However, they offer advantages in breathability and water resistance. The best textile jacket is often made of nylon and polyester, which is very lightweight and preferable on hot and rainy days. These jackets are good for sport, touring, and adventure riders.
Mesh jackets allow air to flow directly onto your body, and they're best to use in the summer. A mesh jacket will provide the most ventilation, but they offer little crash protection. Most mesh jackets include padding on the chest, back, and shoulders. Even when equipped with armor, mesh material is often not strong enough to hold it in place during a serious crash. They tend to be less expensive than leather or textile jackets.
Many motorcycle jackets incorporate or are compatible with armor, typically located in the shoulders, elbows, and forearms. Some jackets have built-in pockets to accommodate back and chest protectors. Durable foam armor is designed to absorb impact to vulnerable areas. Hard composite or metal armor, sometimes found on sport jackets, is designed to slide easily to protect against road rash and prevent a rider from tumbling after impact with the ground. Some new materials are even soft until struck, at which point they become rigid. The very best jackets now offer inflatable airbag systems designed to activate in the event of a crash. It’s important to match your riding style with the appropriate level of protection, and understand the CE rating system used to evaluate motorcycle armor.
Due to the lower speeds and more dynamic nature of off-road riding, dirt-oriented armor tends to be more focused on impacts than severe abrasion. Strong chest protectors, neck braces, knee braces, and padded undergarments are designed to protect against broken bones and torn ligaments caused by crashes or collisions with other riders.
Based in Irvine, California, Firstgear has been in business for over two decades. It designs adventure gear so riders can hit the road regardless of the weather. Products include jackets, pants, gloves, and boots.
Klim is a company that makes motorcycle and snowmobile riding gear that's based in Rigby, Idaho. Its product lineup includes motorcycle jackets, pants, boots, and gloves. The company will even replace damaged Klim gear free of charge if you're involved in a motorcycle accident within five years of purchasing specific products.
Joe Rocket was founded in 1992 and is headquartered in California. Its products have FreeAirTM mesh technology for riding in extreme summer heat without sacrificing protection, as well as the SureFitTM adjustment system, which provides protection in an impact. One top product is the Joe Rocket Phoenix 5.0 Men's Mesh Motorcycle Riding Jacket.
Lino Dainese founded this company in 1972 when he was 20 years old. Based in Vicenza, Italy, it manufactures advanced protective head-to-toe gear for motorcycling, winter sports, cycling, horse riding, and sailing. Its products are made with cowhide, kangaroo skin, aramid, carbon fiber, and titanium. One recommended product is the Dainese Men's Super Speed Tex Jacket.
Leather craftsman Sante Mazzarolo founded Alpinestars in the small Northern Italy town of Asolo in 1963 as motocross started gaining popularity in Europe. The company manufactures a variety of road racing products, including boots and leather suits. One popular product is the Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v2 Air Jacket.
Tourmaster’s parent company, Helmet House, got its start in the late 1970s. Tourmaster designs and distributes helmets, luggage, rain suits, jackets, riding boots, and bike covers. One recommended product is the Tourmaster Advanced Men's Textile Motorcycle Jacket.
Motorcycle Jacket Pricing
- Under $100: Some jackets are pretty inexpensive, but they're not as protective as pricier options. Jackets in this price range may not include armor and are often made of sub-par materials that won't protect you in a crash.
- $100-$200: If you spend a bit more money, you can find some decent motorcycle jackets. They are available in many different styles and materials, and many feature protective elements for safety.
- $200 and up: For the best all-around protection, expect to spend a couple hundred dollars. Many of these jackets can be used nearly year-round, and they are often waterproof with CE-certified armor. These premium jackets can be costly, but they are high quality and have superior ventilation, removable liners, and other features that make them stand out from the pack.
The type of rider you are will dictate what material is most suitable for your motorcycle jacket. If you're a casual rider, synthetic materials may work just fine. If you ride more aggressively or at high speeds, leather will be a better option because it provides superior protection in a crash. If you ride a sportbike, armored jackets built for performance and crash protection are the top pick. There are also jackets that are made of fabric that’s more suitable for summer or rainy conditions.
It's essential to choose a jacket that fits properly. If it's too snug, you're less likely to wear it. Sometimes jackets with armor feel a little tight, so make sure you check the sizing chart. If the jacket is too large, it can also be a problem—it may flap around in the wind at high speeds, which can be very distracting.
- Ventilation. The best motorcycle jacket will provide sufficient ventilation. Some materials can be very warm, thick, and dense. Without proper ventilation, these types of jackets can be very uncomfortable. Fortunately, the best motorcycle jackets for men and women have perforated leather, breathable textile panels, or air vents that you can zip open and close for airflow.
- Armor. The best armored motorcycle jacket is typically constructed with CE-certified armor on the elbows and shoulders (you often see CE or “Conformité Européene” apparel on the race track). Some of these jackets feature armor on the back and torso as well. Armor can be flexible or rigid. The former has foam padding, while the latter has a hard shell with padding underneath. Flexible armor is more comfortable but doesn't provide as much protection.
- Fit. The best motorcycle jacket will have a contoured fit and may allow you to add layers underneath in cold weather. The sleeves should be long enough to reach your wrists while in the riding position. If the jacket contains armor, the pieces should fit properly on your elbows and shoulders. The best motorcycle jackets will have a variety of adjustments for your waist and sleeves.
- Additional Features. You may want a jacket with reflective strips on the shoulders and back so other people on the road can see you better at night. The number and placement of pockets may also be important, depending on what you carry with you when you ride. Also, some jackets have inside liners with pockets and media outlets for phone or headphone cables.
- Style. People ride different types of bikes, so they wear different kinds of gear. If you ride a sportbike, you're probably not going to wear a black leather jacket like Fonzie used to favor. If you are an adventure rider, you need a jacket that will stand up to the elements. Jackets come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so choose one that matches your style.
Best Motorcycle Jackets Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- When selecting a motorcycle jacket, make sure it fits well both when you're standing and when you're in a riding position. Also, don’t buy one that’s too tight or you won’t be able to put layers underneath it.
- Not all jackets will work in all weather conditions. A great leather jacket may be too hot for summer, and a textile jacket may not provide the same level of crash protection as a leather jacket. You may need more than one jacket based on the climate.
- The collar of the jacket should be snug enough so the wind doesn't pass through. If you ride often in the rain, select a jacket that has a watertight layer beneath the zippers so rain doesn't leak through.
- The more pockets, the better. It's preferable to have a few pockets in the front and at least one inner pocket. Also, your jacket should have at least one pocket you can utilize without opening a zipper (which can be challenging when wearing gloves).
- If you want to be really visible at night, choose a bright-colored jacket. Some come in bright yellow and orange, and others have panels made of reflective material.
- Make sure the zippers are easy to open and close. The best motorcycle jackets will have zippers covered in fabric so they don't cause extra harm during a crash.
- For safety purposes, leather jackets should not have a lot of seams on them. For example, the chest and back should be made of a single piece of leather, not several stitched together.
- Sleeves should be long enough so they reach your wrists when your arms are extended towards the motorcycle's handlebars. If possible, you should be able to wear the sleeves both over or under your gloves.
Q: What’s the best type of motorcycle jacket?
It depends on several factors, but safety is number one. Select a jacket that will protect your body in the event of a crash. Also, you need to choose a jacket based on the type of rider you are (casual, adventure, or sport, for example).
Q: How do I clean my motorcycle jacket?
If you have a leather jacket, you can purchase a cleaning kit specifically geared for the material. You should also regularly treat it with a leather product to protect it and keep it durable. You can spot clean Gore-Tex and textile jackets with a moist cloth or stiff brush.
Q: Can I wear my favorite everyday leather jacket to ride a motorcycle?
It's important that the leather jacket you wear for riding a motorcycle is designed to be a motorcycle-specific jacket. Even the best-made street clothes are no match for a high-speed crash.
Our pick for the best motorcycle jacket is the Firstgear Kilimanjaro Jacket. It's a good, all-around jacket that you can wear nearly all year long. Plus, it has armor, which will protect you in an impact. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the stylish Speed & Strength Off The Chain 2.0 Textile Jacket.