Ride With Confidence in the Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Besides style, we give you the details to look for when you’re shopping for a riding jacket.

byRobert Bacon| UPDATED Jan 26, 2023 3:33 PM
Ride With Confidence in the Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket

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BYRobert Bacon/ LAST UPDATED ON January 26, 2023

There’s a reason you can’t do a track day without wearing appropriate leathers, and it’s the same reason all professional short circuit riders wear leather suits: leather gear provides the best abrasion resistance and all-round protection when compared to textile counterparts. But not any leather jacket will do, as it has to be motorcycle-specific, meaning it needs to be thick and have pockets for back, shoulder, and elbow armor. If you’re thinking of buying a leather jacket solely for style without getting the appropriate armor, you’re wasting your time. There are plenty of motorcycle jackets on the market that’ll give you the aesthetic you want and protection you need.

Best Overall
Alpinestars GP Plus R V3 Rideknit Leather Jacket

Alpinestars GP Plus R V3 Rideknit Leather Jacket

Summary
This quality jacket features durable construction and plenty of protective features. Its sporty styling gives you a race-inspired look.
Pros
  • Tech-Air 5 compatible
  • Extended back panel
  • Level 1 Nucleon Flex Plus armor
Cons
  • Rideknit sacrifices protection
  • Lacks airflow
Best Value

Icon Contra 2 Perforated Leather Jacket

Summary
The affordability of this jacket proves you can stay safe without breaking the bank. There are plenty of adjustment straps and pre-curved arms to keep you comfortable.
Pros
  • CE level 2 armor
  • Concealed carry pocket
  • Removable insulated liner
Cons
  • Liner isn't full
  • D30 armor is outdated technology
Honorable Mention

Dainese Sport Pro Perforated Leather Jacket

Summary
Spend a bit more and have the latest in abrasion-resistant technology. The 1.2-millimeter perforated cowhide leather is soft and supple but also durable
Pros
  • Interchangeable aluminum shoulder plates
  • S1 bi-elastic fabric
  • 1.2-millimeter cowhide jacket
Cons
  • Lacks quality armor

Summary List

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Our Methodology

When curating this list of the best leather motorcycle jackets, I focused on well-known brands that have a proven track record of quality construction and performance. Any jackets sold by unknown or obscure brands, made from faux leather, or not specifically for riding were not considered. Don’t trust your life to a jacket that isn’t meant to save it. In accordance with The Drive’s methodology, my goal was to find the best leather jackets that you will actually want to wear. 

Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket Reviews & Recommendations

This basic all-around good jacket is a bit of an investment but is perfect for the casual sportbike rider. The quality materials and durable construction will help it to last through many years and miles of riding. It has a sporty race-inspired look but comes with all of the creature comforts you could want. The outer shell is premium bovine leather for durable abrasion resistance with knitted stretch panels for flexibility and use of the Alpinestars Tech-Air 5 Airbag System. A nice touch is the extra-long back panel because no one likes seeing your crack hanging out of your jeans. Plus, nothing makes you feel colder on a winter day than cool air hitting your lower back. You also get a decent amount of protection with this jacket thanks to the Level 1 Nucleon Flex Plus armor on the shoulder and elbows and back protector pocket.


It should be no surprise that you sacrifice safety when you buy a jacket that’s constructed from textile and leather. However, Alpinestars does its best to minimize this by placing the textile panels in low-impact areas like under the arms. Additionally, you’d assume that textile panels would be cooler and allow more airflow, but this isn’t the case. 


Product Specifications

  • Brand: Alpinestars
  • Ride Style: Sport
  • Armor: Level 1 Nucleon Flex Plus armor on shoulder and elbow

Pros

  • Tech-Air 5 compatible
  • Pre-curved sleeves
  • Inner comfort liner
  • Premium bovine leather

Cons

  • Not as much airflow as perforated jackets
  • Rideknit sacrifices protection 

The Contra 2 from Icon proves you don’t have to spend a lot to have a decent jacket. This durable leather and textile jacket comes in a perforated and non-perforated version. Both versions come with a removable insulated liner that helps keep you warm during cold weather riding. You’ll find that this jacket has a looser fit but still has a sport cut with pre-curved arms. If you prefer a tighter fit, you can use the simple ratchet adjusters on the arms and side to snug it up. It also offers plenty of protection with D30 armor in the back, elbows, and shoulders.


The biggest complaint I have about this jacket is that the armor could be better. The D30 armor is protective, but it’s also decade-old technology, and manufacturers have developed lighter and thinner armor. Additionally, if you live in a humid climate, be careful where and how you store your jacket. I had the original version of this jacket, and the D30 armor disintegrated into a rubbery gooey mess despite keeping it in my bedroom closet. The best bet is to buy the jacket and replace the armor with an upgraded set.


Product Specifications

  • Brand: Icon
  • Ride Style: Touring
  • Armor: D3O removable back, elbow and shoulder impact protectors

Pros

  • CE level 2 armor
  • Removable insulated liner
  • Concealed carry pocket

Cons

  • Not a full liner
  • Included armor could be better

Dainese has worked hard to develop a reputation for high quality, and they’ve cultivated a strong fanbase because of it. Their jackets are expensive, but you’ll get 1.2-millimeter perforated cowhide leather that’s standard on a jacket in this price range. The aluminum shoulder plates give better slide abrasion resistance than lower-quality plastic versions. Similar to other jackets on this list, there are S1 bielastic fabric textile inserts on the arms and sides with water repellant and Cordura polyamide treatments. For ventilation, there are perforations throughout the leather, two zippered vents on the front and back, and a nanofeel liner with a silver ion treatment.


For the price of this jacket, I would have expected it to come with a better armor setup, additional comfort touches, and more innovative features. While there are pockets on the back and chest, you have to buy those separately. Then the elbows only have composite protectors. Then there’s the styling, or should I say lack thereof. You’re just a walking billboard with no stylistic design except large, high contrast, ugly logos on the chest, back, arms, and shoulders. Dainese sure wants people to see their brand from any angle.


Product Specifications

  • Brand: Dianese
  • Ride Style: Sport Pro
  • Armor: Pro Armor inserts at shoulders

Pros

  • 1.2-millimeter cowhide jacket
  • Interchangeable aluminum shoulder plates
  • S1 bielastic fabric

Cons

  • Large ugly logo on chest
  • Composite elbow protectors

The Ignition jacket has been such a hit with women riders, and the third edition looks to be the best yet. It’s not surprising, given it’s the perfect combo of protection and flattering fit. The latest version has some impressive improvements, including the addition of Seeflex CE level 2 armor. You’ll appreciate the same Dynax mesh and Monaco performance cowhide construction. It comes with two liners, one thermal and one waterproof, making it suitable for all riding conditions and the only jacket you’ll ever need. The outer shell is fully perforated for superior ventilation that will keep you cool in the summer.  Thankfully, it has adjustment tabs, straps, and panels to give you custom fit over your curves to make the regular touring cut of the jacket both flattering and comfortable. 


The downfall of this jacket is something that plagues most women’s clothing—a lack of pockets. It has slit, document, and inner pockets. This is nowhere near the storage capacity that men get in their jackets. The fit through the shoulders also tends to be tight, which can restrict your movement while riding. 


Product Specifications

  • Brand: REV'IT!
  • Ride Style: Touring
  • Armor: CE level 2 armor

Pros

  • Monaco performance cowhide
  • Wax polyester 600D
  • Detachable thermal body warmer
  • Stretch panels

Cons

  • Tight fit in the shoulders
  • Lacks pockets

The Dainese Super Speed 3 is essentially the top half of a race suit and is perfect for those who are getting their elbows down or aspire to. It’s made from D-Skin 2.0 full-grain cow leather, which along with stretch fabric around the collarbone and arms, keeps it flexible and durable. There are CE level-2 protectors at the elbows and shoulders along with replaceable aluminum plates on the shoulders and seamless aluminum plates on the elbows. There are compartments for double chest protectors and a G2 back protector (sold separately). You can zip this model to the Super Speed 3 leather pants for even more protection.


There’s a Nanofeel liner inside, which has been treated with silver ions. This gives the liner anti-bacterial and anti-odor properties, keeping the jacket smelling better for longer. This model is perforated, and there are vents on the sides, which you’ll be thankful for when the sun’s out. This iteration has a longer back that’s intended to offer more protection. There are two outer pockets and one inner pocket. The only issue I have with this model is that it’s one of the priciest options on the market, especially when you consider that it doesn’t come with a back protector.


Product Specifications

  • Brand: Dianese
  • Ride Style: Super Speed 3
  • Armor: CE level-2 shoulder and elbow protectors

Pros

  • D-Skin 2.0 full grain leather
  • Nanofeel liner
  • Plenty of flexibility

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No back protector included

The Roland Sands Ronin Leather Jacket takes the classic style of a leather jacket and mixes it with modern motorcycle gear protection. It’s made from washed and waxed cowhide that’s 1.2mm thick around the main body. The pre-curved arms and pockets for RSD x Forcefield armor are what distinguishes this from a regular leather jacket. No armor is included in the sale, but the pockets are at the shoulders, elbows, and back.


This model looks and feels every bit the part thanks to its shorty snap collar, zip close cuffs, and side zipper waist adjuster. There’s a zip-close interior chest pocket and a soft-lined electronics security pocket. This jacket’s color will lighten over time due to exposure to UV light, which could be exactly what some people want to give their look more authenticity. The Ronin is a bit pricey, especially when you consider that it doesn’t come with armor, but it regularly goes on sale, meaning you should keep your eye on it.


Product Specifications

  • Brand: Roland Sands
  • Ride Style: Retro
  • Armor: None included

Pros

  • 1.2mm waxed cowhide construction
  • Armor pockets at shoulders, elbows, and back
  • Shorty snap collar

Cons

  • No armor included
  • Pricey when not on sale

Our Verdict

For one of the best leather motorcycle jackets to protect you and enhance your style, consider the Alpinestars GP Plus R V3 Rideknit Leather Jacket with its premium leather construction and impressive protective qualities. 

An affordable alternative is the Icon Contra 2 Perforated Leather Jacket with its removable liner and durable construction. 

Leather Motorcycle Jacket Key Features

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: How do I wash a leather motorcycle jacket?

A: It is best to clean it by rinsing the material with warm water or using a wet towel mixed with soap. 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: How do I size a motorcycle jacket?

A: Always follow the manufacturer’s product-specific size chart for accurate size selection. Consider whether the jacket is American or European cut. Use a soft tape measure to wrap around your body and get your chest, waist, and sleeve length measurements. Sleeves may be measured from the shoulder point or from the spine. Pay attention to this to get an accurate measurement. If you plan to put a back protector in your jacket, consider adding a quarter to a half inch to accommodate it.  

Q: How thick should motorcycle leather be?

A: The leather should be a minimum of 1.4 millimeters thick to make it durable enough to absorb the heat from the friction of impact and be durable enough to withstand the abrasion. The thicker the leather is, the stiffer and heavier the jacket will be.

Q: What is CE armor?

A: CE refers to the armor being CE-certified, which stands for Conformité Européene. The only time you’re required to wear CE-rated gear is when you’re on a track. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear it when casually riding. There’s Level 1 and 2 armor, with Level 2 offering you better impact protection.

Q: Do textile or leather jackets offer more protection?

A: Generally speaking, a leather jacket will offer more abrasion resistance than its textile counterpart. But, the armor in a jacket is the main determining factor when it comes to protection.

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