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Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets: Stay Stylish and Safe on the Road

Look great, stay warm, and protect yourself while riding. A new leather jacket does it all.

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BY Andra DelMonico / LAST UPDATED ON March 24, 2021

If you ride a motorcycle or are considering getting one, you need a tough leather jacket to keep you safe and warm. They make you stand out and add a bit of style that can match the look of your bike. Leather jackets also act as a barrier between your skin and the pavement if you’re ever involved in a crash. Plus, they hold all of your accessories in convenient and easy-to-access pockets.

 

Modern jackets come in styles that are perfect for every rider, from classic to modern. They have the rider in mind with detailing that increases your comfort level. They also pack a ton of safety features into the construction to help you stay safe without sacrificing looks. Here are the best leather motorcycle jackets to consider for your next ride.

Best Overall
Joe Rocket 'Vintage' Leather Racing Jacket
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Summary
Summary

This cowhide jacket is tailored to fit the body and also has a retro styling. The zip-out lining inside of the jacket is a diamond-pattern stitched liner made of satin. The outside of the jacket has external pockets for easy access while riding. 

Pros
Pros
  • Removable liner 
  • Lots of pockets
Cons
Cons
  • Doesn’t come with armor
  • No venting
Best Overall
Joe Rocket 'Vintage' Leather Racing Jacket
Best Value
Street & Steel Drifter Jacket
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Summary
Summary

The blacked-out styling of this jacket makes it look sleek and stylish. It has a full leather construction with a mesh liner. It also has a zip-out hooded fleece liner.

Pros
Pros
  • CE level 2 armor 
  • Concealed carry pocket
Cons
Cons
  • No back protector 
  • Lacking internal pockets
Best Value
Street & Steel Drifter Jacket
Honorable Mention
Roland Sands Ronin Leather Jacket
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Summary
Summary

Slip this comfortable leather jacket on and feel how soft and supple the cowhide leather is. It has a performance fit with pre-curved arms, and a dropped back length.

Pros
Pros
  • 0.9mm-1mm thick cowhide
  • RSD x Forcefield armor
Cons
Cons
  • Issues with the fit
  • Lacks ventilation
Honorable Mention
Roland Sands Ronin Leather Jacket

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Benefits of Leather Motorcycle Jackets

  • Safety. There’s no denying that leather will protect you while riding. If you happen to crash while riding, the leather will protect your skin from abrasions. It will also protect you from rain, debris, and the sun.
  • Warmth. Being that leather is a natural material, it works well to keep you warm when temperatures start to drop. Many leather jackets also come with a quilted liner to help insulate your torso and arms. 
  • Cool factor. When people think of motorcycles, they think of that cool guy in a leather jacket. So why not be that guy? Throw on your leather jacket and instantly look cooler. 

Types of Leather Motorcycle Jackets

Cruising 

If you ride a cruiser, these are the jackets designed for you. They also happen to be the jacket most non-motorcycle riders picture when they think of a leather motorcycle jacket. These jackets are comfortably loose but not too loose on the body. They support a more upright riding position. 

Sport

These motorcycle jackets conform to your body when you ride your sportbike. They’re designed to be comfortable when you’re in an aggressive riding position. The jacket should fit close to your body and have a wide range of motion in your shoulders and arms. You’ll also find more reinforcements at the impact points to provide increased protection during impact. 

Touring 

These are some of the most versatile jackets on the market. They are protective in all weather conditions. There are plenty of pockets for storage, and they are meant for wearing for long periods of time. As an adventure rider, these jackets will protect you from the elements and off-road hazards that you may encounter. 

Café Racer 

Café racer bikes are compact, and the original off-road racing motorcycles. These jackets match that. They tend to have a retro look and simple lines, minimal pockets, and classic coloring. These jackets are best for an upright riding position. They have a shorter cut through the torso for more flexibility and comfort as you’re riding. 

Top Brands

Harley-Davidson 

When it comes to the American motorcycle tradition, Harley is the king for both motorcycle production and creating the best motorcycle jackets. Founded in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1903, Harley-Davidson is known for producing some of the loudest cruisers on the market. These days, purchasing a Harley isn’t about buying a bike—it’s investing in a lifestyle. This Victory Lane Men’s Leather Jacket is one of its most well-known leather jackets. 

Milwaukee Leather

The Milwaukee Motorcycle Clothing Company has operated in Milwaukee, Wis., for 40 years. It specializes in quality leather apparel and gear for cruiser riders. Its distinctive style features a tough look that is synonymous with the stereotypical “biker style.” This ladies’ leather motorcycle jacket features that biker jacket style.

Alpinestars

Alpinestars was founded in 1963 and has grown to produce gear for distribution worldwide. Its headquarters are located in Torrance, Calif. This is one of the top sport rider gear brands. It specializes in creating gear that’s perfect for someone who sits in a more aggressive riding position. While beginners will buy this brand, it’s more commonly used by those who have a few years of experience and know what they’re looking for in a leather jacket. The Alpinestars GP Plus R v2 Airflow Jacket is a perfect example of Alpinestars packing the latest innovations into their gear. 

Dainese

Dainese was founded in 1972 in Molvena, Colceresa, Italy. If you’re an experienced sportbike rider or enjoy time at the track, then this is one of the top brands you need. It specializes in leather jackets, pants, and suits that have a ton of safety features. The Dainese Racing 3 Perforated Jacket is an excellent option for race quality in a street-ready jacket. 

Leather Motorcycle Jackets Pricing

  • $100 to $300: These are quality entry-level jackets that will provide you with basic protections and features. They may have faux leather or low-quality affordable leather for the jacket’s construction. 
  • $300 to $750: In this range, you’ll find softer and higher quality leather, more features like venting throughout, removable liners, and removable CE-certified shells. 
  • $750 and up: Anything in this price range will feature the highest quality leather. These jackets tend to have more tapering to make them fit the body perfectly. In addition to the features of the $300 to $750 price range, they also have waterproofed seams, stretch zones, pant connectors, and electronic systems.  

Key Features

Leather Quality 

Higher-quality leather is lighter, softer, more comfortable, and stronger. As a general rule, lower-quality and cheaper-priced jackets use lower-quality leather. You want a leather jacket that will conform to your body and act like a comfortable second layer of skin. Buying a jacket with better quality leather will last you longer and have stronger stitching. 

Venting 

Because leather can get hot, you want to look for a leather jacket that has adequate venting. Typically these will either be mesh inserts or zippered vents that you can open and close. Look for the vents to be located on the front in the shoulder/armpit area and back. This will create a flow of air through the jacket. 

Liners 

Lower-quality jackets won’t have a liner, or if they do, it won’t be removable. This will be fine until you wear your jacket on a hot day and sweat a lot. Then you’ll have to get your jacket professionally cleaned. Higher-quality jackets have a removable liner for easier care at home. A removable liner gives you more functionality as you can adjust the

Other Considerations

  • Climate. Buy a leather jacket that’s designed for the climate you intend to ride in. Leather is inherently warmer, so you’ll need a jacket that’s accommodating. Wearing a winter leather jacket in the heat of summer is a fast way to experience heat stroke and can prematurely end your riding day. 
  • Riding Style. Don’t get caught up in the look of the various leather jacket options. While you want to look good wearing your jacket, it also needs to be functional for your riding style. Narrow down your search to the type of bike you ride. Cruiser-style jackets have more flex in the shoulders and a longer torso length. Sport bike jackets have a torso that’s shorter in the front and longer in the back. 
  • Armor. The most protective motorcycle jackets have protective CE armor shells. This armor covers key impact points, your shoulders, elbows, and spine. Some high-end jackets also have chest protection. The most protective shells are CE-approved, but more affordable jackets have armor that’s made from polycarbonate, plastic, or memory foam. 

Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Joe Rocket 'Vintage' Leather Racing Jacket

This Joe Rocket leather jacket is made of cowhide leather, which makes it durable. It’s also lined with a quilted liner that will increase warmth and comfort. There are plenty of pockets for storing your belongings on both the inside and outside of the jacket. One standout feature is that the liner zips out. This makes it easier to care for and clean the jacket. It also has pockets on the interior of the jacket for safety shells at your impact points. This gives you increased protection in the event of a fall. 


A major drawback to this jacket is that it doesn’t have any venting. This may be acceptable in cold winter conditions but will become unbearable in warmer temperatures. The entire jacket also has a slim fit through the body, so if you have a few extra pounds, it might feel tight. Also, armor is an additional cost.


Best Value
Street & Steel Drifter Jacket

This affordable jacket doesn’t look cheap with its stealth black-out styling. The discrete leather gives the jacket a clean look, while the decorative reflective detailing helps to keep you visible at night. The jacket has a full leather construction with a mesh airflow liner and a removable hooded fleece liner. To keep you protected, it has CE level 2 shoulder and elbow armor shells. This jacket stands out because of its pockets. There is a chest pocket for sunglasses, as well as front handwarmer pockets and an internal concealed carry pocket. The back of the jacket has a loop for connecting your jacket to your jeans or riding pants. 


Unfortunately, this jacket doesn’t come with a back protector, but there’s a pocket for adding one later. It also has fewer internal pockets than other jackets. The snaps on the jacket could be more durable.

Honorable Mention
Roland Sands Ronin Leather Jacket

This comfortable black leather riding jacket comes in a soft brown color too. It’s a 0.9mm-1mm thick cowhide construction that has a waxed finish. This helps it be soft and supple, and it only gets more comfortable the more you wear it. You’ll appreciate the pre-curved arms, dropped back length,  and RSD x Forcefield armor that turns this jacket into a protective piece of gear. To help keep you cool and increase airflow, there are perforations on the leather interior trim and sleeves. The lining is a soft satin poly to keep you warm and comfortable. A soft line electronics pocket will keep your phone safe, and stretch cargo pockets will carry anything else you bring with you. 


Unfortunately, this jacket doesn’t come with armor for the shoulders, elbows, and back pockets. You'll need to add that separately. Also, the fit is off for some people. They found it too big and baggy.

Honorable Mention
Joe Rocket Classic '92 Jacket

This jacket gives you a chance to stand out with its four unique color options. Choose from black and white, black and orange, brown and cream, and brown and orange. The jacket’s construction is 1.0 to 1.2mm drum-dyed cowhide in black or brown with colored racing stripe accenting on the sleeves. You’ll appreciate the relaxed fit that gives you more room through the shoulders and torsos. It has a quilted full-sleeve liner for extra warmth in colder weather. Other nice features include an adjustable neoprene-lined mandarin collar, two inside utility pockets, four outside pockets, and an adjustable waist and cuffs. 


One drawback of this jacket is that it isn’t as durable as other jackets on this list. It also doesn’t come with any armor. However, there are pockets for adding armor to the shoulders, elbows, and back.

 

Honorable Mention
First Manufacturing Top Performer Jacket

Slip this black leather jacket on and enjoy the extra room. It features an American cut, single snap mandarin collar,  and side snap adjustments. It has a full sleeve zip-out liner for extra warmth. There’s padded detailing on the shoulders to give the jacket style and a bit of extra protection. There are pockets for armor at the shoulders, elbows, and back. This jacket stands out because it has plenty of venting. There are two vented chest pockets and zippered vents on the sleeves. 


One issue with this jacket is that it runs large, so many people size down to get a better fit. This jacket has a generous American cut through the shoulders and torso. The zippers also leak air, which can make the jacket colder. It also doesn’t come with armor, but you can add it later.

Honorable Mention
Scorpion EXO 1909 Leather Jacket

This black leather jacket pays homage to the original cafe racers with its distressed leather and racing stripes on the front and sleeves. The top grain leather is hand distressed for a unique look and feel. It’s also durable with Exo-Stitch® internal safety stitching at the stress points. Even the zippers are durable, with YKK antique brass metal zippers throughout. You’ll have full armored protections with the included removable Sas-Tex body protection system. It includes CE armor at the shoulders and elbows. There are perforated panels on the torso and inner arm for warm weather and a removable EverHeat liner for cold weather to keep you comfortable year-round.  


This jacket’s drawback is its café racer style; it won’t be comfortable on some bikes with a different riding position. It also doesn’t come with a back protector. However, there’s a pocket for one if you’d like to add one later. 

Honorable Mention
Roland Sands Maven Women's Leather Jacket

This jacket looks good enough to be worn on and off the bike. It comes in three colors, black, oxblood, and tobacco. You’ll love that it looks like a fashion jacket but is packed with all of the riding safety features you want. Plus, it does it without adding bulk to your frame. The leather is a 1.1mm - 1.3mm 100 percent top grain cowhide that’s hand-finished, washed, oiled, and waxed. The sleeves are pre-curved and rotated, and the back is extra long for performance riding. The inside lining is 100 percent poly satin for a silky soft feel against your skin. Several small touches make the jacket comfortable, including zippered pockets throughout, flex fit panels, perforating for ventilation, and zip-close cuffs. 


Unfortunately, this jacket doesn’t come with armor. However, there are pockets for you to add armor at the shoulders, elbows, and back. It also has a slim fit style, so you may want to size up for more room.

Honorable Mention
Dainese Racing 3 Perforated Jacket

This high-end jacket is perfect for wearing on the road and the track. It features co-injected shoulders and race-quality aluminum inserts. The jacket is constructed of Tutu cowhide leather. To increase your comfort level, there are built-in elasticated inserts. Other nice features are S1 bioelastic fabric, micro elastic 2.0, and a nano feel liner with a silver ion treatment. It has a jacket trouser fastening system that helps you turn the jacket into a complete suit with Dainese leather pants. It also comes in three color options, all black, black, and red, and a black/white/red option.


One issue with the jacket is that it’s going to need a long break-in time. However, the jacket will fit like a second skin and be comfortable. It can also feel hot during warmer riding months.

Honorable Mention
Alpinestars Missile Air Leather Jacket For Tech Air Race

This jacket stands out because it’s ready for the latest innovative technology on the motorcycle gear market. This jacket is ready for the Tech Air Race Vest airbag system. There are onboard sensors that use a sophisticated algorithm to detect situations when the airbag system’s deployment will provide you protection. This jacket can provide you with protection for your back, chest, shoulders, and kidneys. The jacket itself is impressive with a 1.3-millimeter genuine cow leather construction. There are strategic perforations and accordion gusseting throughout. There are also CE certified GP-R protectors at the shoulders and elbows. 


The downside of this jacket is that the airbag system is sold separately. It’s also hard to buy the right size because Alpinestars gear typically runs small and fits a certain body type.

Honorable Mention
Schott 641 Café Racer Jacket

Channel the motorcycle riders of yesteryear in this vintage-inspired black leather jacket. It’s constructed of heavy steer hide for maximum durability and protection. It has a slim fit through the torso and a stand-up collar. The classic café racer styling means this jacket is going to be snug on you. To keep the jacket flexible and comfortable, there are underarm gussets. On the front of the jacket, there are handwarmer pockets and zippered chest pockets. It also comes with a zip-out vest liner for added warmth. 


The downside of this jacket is that it has no airflow and takes a long time to break-in. However, these qualities mean that it’s perfect for cold weather and ultra-protective. The sizing also runs small, so you may want to size up when ordering.

Tips

  • Keep in mind the type of weather you will be riding in. If it is extremely cold, you may need to dress in layers to keep warm. Make sure there is enough room in the jacket to wear multiple layers underneath.
  • Look at the number of pockets the leather jacket has. Outside slit or handwarmer pockets are nice because they’re easily reachable and convenient. Internal pockets are nice because you can keep your valuables in them. 
  • Maintain your leather jacket to extend its useful life. Use a leather cleaner to remove road grime and dirt from the leather. Then use a conditioner to moisturize and keep the leather soft and supple. 

FAQs

Q: How do I wash a leather motorcycle jacket?

Leather isn’t meant to be washed in a washing machine, so it is best to clean it by rinsing the material with warm water or using a wet towel mixed with soap. If you do this, only use gentle soap and always condition the leather afterward to re-add the moisture the soap stripped from the leather. You can also take it to a dry cleaner and have a professional clean it. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer to see the best way to clean the leather properly, so you don't ruin it.

Q: What can I do to find a motorcycle jacket that fits?

Finding the perfect fit can be difficult, especially online, so make sure you consult the manufacturer's sizing chart before purchasing. Keep in mind that leather stretches and conforms to your body as you wear it. 

Q: What other clothing should I get to go along with a motorcycle jacket?

A motorcycle jacket is great for protecting your upper body and keeping you warm and safe, but you should also consider getting a pair of motorcycle gloves and leather pants. Then complete your gear setup with a pair of boots and a helmet. 

Final Thoughts

For one of the best leather motorcycle jackets to protect you and enhance your style, consider the Joe Rocket 'Vintage' Leather Racing Jacket. It has a zip-out liner, several pockets, and built-in armor pockets. 

An affordable alternative is the Street & Steel Drifter Jacket with its attractive price point, CE level two armor, and a concealed carry pocket.