LAST UPDATED: November 21, 2019
Best Summer Motorcycle Jackets: Be Stylish and Safe
Fashion meets function with a summer motorcycle jacket that protects you on the road
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON November 21, 2019
Most people think of motorcycle jackets as an on-trend staple piece that can make any outfit look instantly cooler. That’s definitely true, but motorcycle jackets were designed for function and should be worn any time you hop on a bike. A good motorcycle jacket protects your skin in an accident.
Summer motorcycle jackets perform this function in a lighter and more breathable style. We’ve rounded up some of the top motorcycle jackets and shopping tips to get you on your way.
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Benefits of Summer Motorcycle Jackets
- Safety. Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous. If you go down, you risk major internal and external injuries. A jacket will keep you protected from the elements in the event of a fall while riding.
- Comfort. Wearing a summer jacket is more comfortable than a winter jacket, thanks to the use of breathable materials. It also protects you from the harsh summer sun that would burn your skin without protection.
- Good looks. Some jackets have styling that makes them look cool. You can choose a jacket that matches your personal style or the colors of your bike for a cohesive look.
Types of Summer Motorcycle Jackets
While leather tends to be the predominant material used in making cruiser style jackets, textile fabrics are becoming more popular. If you choose leather, you’ll want plenty of venting for airflow to make it a comfortable summer jacket. These jackets fit looser, which gives you more room to move and more comfort while riding. You won’t typically find armor in these jackets, though it’s starting to appear more often.
These are the jackets that sportbike riders wear when cruising the streets. They tend to have a relaxed fit. They are looser than a racing jacket, but tighter than a cruiser jacket. You’ll notice that the jacket is cut to match the rider’s form when on the bike. Textile materials are common, and you’ll find several innovative features are built into the jacket to help keep you cool. Body armor can be a hit or miss when it comes to this type of jacket.
This category of jacket has grown in recent years as adventure tour riding becomes more popular. They’re distinctive in the extra-long body and numerous pockets. These jackets tend to be more durable and are also waterproof and breathable. Body armor is almost always included with the jacket.
If you ride a sportbike, then you’ll learn quickly that Alpinestars is one of the top gear manufacturers. Founded in 1963, it has grown into a well-respected international brand from its headquarters in Torrance, Calif. The Alpinestars Luc Air Street Jacket is a perfect example of the company’s high-performance gear.
Founded in Molvena, Colceresa, Italy, in 1972, Dainese makes some of the highest quality sportbike jackets on the market. It specializes in making race jackets that provide the greatest amount of protection. The Dainese Zen Evo Leather Motorcycle Jacket is the perfect jacket for both protection and cool comfort.
Joe Rocket is known for producing affordable riding gear that provides a budget-friendly entry point. You’ll find that even though the gear is at a lower price point, it’s still stylish with nice features. The Joe Rocket Phoenix 5.0 Mesh Jacket is a perfect example of the type of gear you’ll find from Joe Rocket.
Founded in1903 in Milwaukee, Wis., you can’t get more all American than Harley-Davidson. While it does make some textile jackets, it’s more known for its leather goods. Its jackets are designed to be worn with Harleys, so you’ll find cruiser jackets. The Harley-Davidson Women's Callahan Mesh Riding Jacket is a perfect example of the company’s commitment to quality.
Summer Motorcycle Jacket Pricing
- $100 to $300: These jackets are entry-level jackets that typically don’t have extensive venting or included armor shells. The material won’t be the best quality.
- $300 to $750: This is the price range in which most people buy their jackets. You’ll find all of the desirable features and quality materials.
- $750 and up: These are high-quality jackets that have the finest materials, the latest innovative features, and expert tailoring. You’ll find small details like waterproofed seams, extra venting, and pants connectors.
A summer jacket is meant to be worn during the hottest months of the year, so it needs to be the most breathable jacket you’ve ever worn. This is accomplished with breathable fabrics and plenty of vents to encourage airflow. For sufficient airflow, there needs to be vents on the front and back of the jacket.
For the most protection, your jacket needs to have body armor. These are CE-rated shells that cover critical areas of the body, elbows, shoulders, and back. Look for CE-certified jackets for shells that you know will protect you. In most jackets, these shells are placed into pockets. This makes them removable or replaceable.
You have two main options when it comes to material: leather or textile. Leather has more abrasion resistance, but textile tends to be cooler. Look for zippered mesh panels in a leather jacket to help increase its breathability. If you choose textile material, higher denier fabrics tend to be more durable.
- Thermal Liner. If your summer jacket comes with a liner, you can get more use out of the jacket. Put the liner in during the spring and fall when the temperatures are slightly cooler. The liner can also make it easier to keep the jacket clean. You can take the liner out and throw it in the wash when it starts to get dirty.
- Reflective Detailing. It’s all about being more visible, so any little extra reflective detailing can make a difference. This is especially helpful at night when visibility is low. Look for a jacket that has reflective panels or piping along the seams. When a car’s headlights hit your jacket, it will catch the light and draw the driver’s attention.
- Custom Fit. It’s important that your jacket fits you all over so that you’re comfortable, and the jacket can effectively protect you. Look for a jacket that has detailing to give you a custom fit. This could be cinchable straps, snap straps, or stretch panels that conform to your unique shape.
Best Summer Motorcycle Jackets Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This jacket from Harley-Davidson embodies the quality and looks that you can expect from the brand. This textile jacket has all of the safety features that you want and also keeps you cool during the summer. There are plenty of pockets on the interior and exterior to give you plenty of storage for all of your items.
This jacket comes in a wide range of sizes from small through 5XL, so it’ll work for a variety of riders. There’s also a lightweight liner that makes this jacket more versatile for more seasons than just summer.
While this jacket is lightly padded, it doesn’t have actual body armor. This means it lacks the level of protection that other summer jackets provide. It also doesn’t have a lot of venting, so the nylon material can get hot in warmer climates. There are also only two internal pockets, which aren’t many when compared to other jackets.
This lightweight mesh jacket uses textiles to keep it feeling cool. The affordable price point of this jacket makes it an attractive choice for beginners and occasional riders.
The mesh outer layer will keep you dry in the hottest of summer months thanks to its high level of breathability. There is also body armor included to keep you protected. There are armor shells in the elbows, shoulders, and spine.
Unfortunately, the pocket placement reduces the breathability of the jacket in certain places. The pockets aren’t mesh, so they block the flow of air. Also, pay attention to the sizing as this jacket can run small.
This sleek-looking jacket will be sure to impress with its stylish accents and built-in body armor. This makes it the perfect jacket to wear while you’re on and off the bike. The body armor is located at the shoulders, elbows, and spine.
The inside of the jacket has a removable liner, which makes the jacket more versatile. It also makes caring for the jacket easier. There are several pockets on the exterior and interior to make carrying your belongings easier.
You may find the leather to be a bit stiff, so plan for a longer break-in period. You’ll especially notice the stiffness through the arms as you reach forward and bend your arms. There is also a lack of venting throughout.
This is an all-season motorcycle jacket made of high-quality textile. Thanks to the unique design, the jacket can keep you warm during the winter and cool during the summer. We find it ideal for all weather conditions because of the rugged materials that enhance safety. The back, elbows, and shoulders on this jacket have body armor to protect you from impacts and other threats on the road. Still, the reinforced design doesn't come at the expense of comfort. The materials are soft enough to ensure comfort on long rides, so you'll always feel good in this jacket.
However, it's good to keep in mind that the armor is not super sturdy. For ultimate protection and racing purposes, we recommend something firmer. Also, some buyers complained about the zipper leaking in heavy rain. It's nothing too dramatic, but expect to be a little wet when exposed to extreme weather.
Joe Rocket is known to produce top-notch motorcycle gear and is one of the favored choices among motorcycle riders. Here, we have the company's jacket that provides ultimate protection and comfort for the users. The item is made from breathable and light mesh materials but also extra reinforced in the shoulders, elbows, and ribs for more safety on the road. The jacket features a removable back pad for even more protection. All the built-in armor is super sturdy and reliable.
There's only one major drawback of this product. The Joe Rocket jacket is quite expensive and not suitable for those who are on a tight budget. If you're looking for an affordable alternative, check out our other picks above. When it comes to the jacket itself, we noticed that the interior pocket is not very spacious. You won't be able to fit your sunglasses inside.
- Protection should be your top consideration when buying a summer motorcycle jacket. These days most jackets come standard with padding or armor built into them. When you’re out shopping, look for jackets that mention D3O, Sas-Tec, and Exo-Tec armor.
- Don’t forget reflective safety features for riding at night. Even though you have tail lights, reflective features can provide added protection. Depending on your tastes, you can opt for more discreet options like reflective piping or bolder reflective colorful jackets.
- Be mindful of fit. Your summer motorcycle jacket should feature a snug fit. If your jacket is too large the armor could shift, and it’s less likely to protect you in an accident. A jacket that’s too tight will be uncomfortable, dig into your skin, and even cut off blood flow, making it less likely that you’ll want to wear it consistently.
Q: Should I buy a textile or leather summer motorcycle jacket?
The choice between textile and leather for a motorcycle jacket is a personal one. One of the advantages of a textile motorcycle jacket is that they tend to be lighter in weight and more breathable, which can be ideal for summer use. But if you have serious concerns about safety, opt for a leather jacket, which will offer better abrasion protection for your skin if you’re in an accident.
Q: How do I know if a summer motorcycle jacket is breathable?
There’s nothing worse than being sweaty in a motorcycle jacket. Focus on jackets that highlight intake and exhaust vents to help circulate air and heat. If you’re concerned about moisture resistance against rain, look for jackets that feature mesh material to prevent moisture from penetrating your jacket’s shell.
Q: Do I need to buy multiple motorcycle jackets for different seasons?
Budget-focused shoppers should focus on jackets that feature removable insulating liners that make them more versatile. You’ll be able to wear some of these types of jackets nearly all year round and save money and closet space.
If you’re a serious rider you know that you need a jacket that can stand up to the elements and still be comfortable for riding. Opt for our best overall selection, the HARLEY-DAVIDSON Men's Lightweight Mesh Accent Nylon Jacket.
Occasional riders or those who are budget-focused should consider the admirable textile summer motorcycle jacket from our best value pick, the Viking Cycle Warlock Mesh Motorcycle Jacket for Men.