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.
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.
- Removable liner
- Lots of pockets
- Doesn’t come with armor
- No venting
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.
- CE level 2 armor
- Concealed carry pocket
- No back protector
- Lacking internal pockets
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.
- 0.9mm-1mm thick cowhide
- RSD x Forcefield armor
- Issues with the fit
- Lacks ventilation
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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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
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.
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.