The motorcycle jacket is one of the most iconic artifacts of biker culture, especially in public consciousness. When people picture a motorcyclist, they tend to envision someone clad in a well-made, well-fitted leather jacket.
With the continuous advancement of material sciences, the constant diversification of motorcycles themselves, and the rather varied climates of a global society, there are a plethora of jackets to choose from.
You’re bound to find the jacket that’s ideal for you, but there are a few variables to consider, such as what you find comfortable, the climates you’ll be riding in, and the type of motorcycle you’re going to use.
The Four Motorcycle Jacket Styles
There are basically for style groups, when it comes to these jackets – Cruiser, Racing, Sport/Street and Adventure Touring/Dual Sport. Each of these has its own strengths, making them ideal for a specific riding style. Surprisingly, no single type of material/textile is standard for any given style of jacket either.
- Cruiser – This is the classic motorcycle jacket that most picture – the icon, the stereotype. While most commonly seen in leather, they’re also available in many other styles, with a focus on comfort and aesthetic. These are ideal for casual riders and those that use their motorcycle as transportation going about their daily lives.
- Racing – Racing jackets are distinctive for their tight fit and somewhat “space age” appearance. The tight fit is to prevent wind resistance, and the distinct appearance is due to flex panels designed to allow mobility while providing padding against abrasions from dangerous high-speed offs. They tend to have a narrower collar, and a zipper to fasten to racing pants (preventing ride up).
- Sport/Street – These jackets are a casual modification of racing jackets, taking the slower speeds into account. They’re distinguished by the less prominent flex panels and the looser fit focusing on comfort. Seasonal jackets of this sort also include insulation and ventilation to help keep the rider cool or warm in harsh conditions.
- Adventure/Dual Sport – This is a less common style of jacket, used primarily by those whom go on long rides across varied, often rough climates and terrains. They look like nothing more than a survival jacket imitating a racing jacket, with pockets for gear, layers of insulation and impact padding, and a form-hugging design with an additional fastening around the neck. These are ideal for winter riding, or those long trans-continental adventures.
Important Motorcycle Jacket Factors To Consider
There are important factors to consider, which will determine the material you choose, and the style of jacket most suited to your needs.
- Leather or Textile – The first decision you’ll want to make is if you want leather or textile. Leather has a classic look, and many regard it as quite comfortable. However, its real strength is in its resistance to abrasion. However, for comfort and versatility in multiple climates and weather conditions, textiles tend to outperform it. This all comes down to whether you want comfort in various climates, or wish to focus on the durability of leather.
- Visibility/Reflectivity – While many would argue that subtlety is a sign of good everyday design, a jacket that catches the eye can actually be a major boon to safety. You want people to see you, and be aware of your presence and location on the road!
- Liners and Armor/Padding – If you ride in a temperate area with both hot and cold weather, you may want to look for a jacket with removable or all-weather lining that can help keep you warm in the winter, without the jacket cooking you in the summer. Similarly, even if you’re not a dare devil (and you shouldn’t be!), focusing on padding/armor around the chest, back and shoulders is also important, as these are areas where damage can be the worst if you have a nasty off.
- Fitment – Finally, you want a jacket that fits you well, and comfortably. It can be hard to find one that’s a perfect fit, but many styles of jacket have fitment adjustments on the waist and slides on the sleeves, which provide just the right amount of hug or slack for your personal comfort standards. You don’t want to wear a jacket that’s too tight or constrictive, cutting off circulation. The fatigue from this can lead to serious dangers.
To learn more about the different styles of jackets, which ones suit which styles of riding, and much more about the adventurous world of motorbiking, subscribe to my YouTube channel today!