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Is it your first time to go shopping for a motorcycle jacket? We’re here to make the process easier for you. Let’s begin with knowing the different types.
Types of Motorcycle Jackets
These are the classic leather motorcycle jackets that you must have seen other motorcycle riders wear. They are usually made from cowhide leather, Kevlar, and other synthetic fabrics that deliver superior abrasion protection. They usually have an asymmetrical zipper, pockets, and epaulettes, sleeve zippers, coin flaps, belt, and chrome hardware.
As for the fit, cruiser jackets are generally on the shorter (right above your waist) and looser side to provide greater mobility. However, pockets for armour are usually little to none in mid-range cruiser jackets, while premium ones may come with built-in armour or pocket inserts at the back, elbows, and shoulders.
Racing jackets are usually thicker (around 1.4mm) and heavier than other types of motorcycle jackets. Their fewer seams and pockets allow them to provide higher abrasion resistance and greater injury protection during high-speed crashes or slides.
Motorcycle racing jackets often feature an aerodynamic design for enhanced manoeuvrability during high-speed races. They also have a very tight fit, and pre-curved sleeves to decrease drag and rider fatigue. They may also include a belt buckle or zipper at the bottom hem to secure the jacket in place. Some are furnished with a detachable collar to accommodate a neck brace, while others feature stretchable fabric panels around the arms and sides of the body for greater mobility.
Dual Sport/Adventure Jackets
Designed for both on and off road riding, dual sport jackets are the most versatile type of motorcycle jackets. They usually have customisable features such as removable thermal liners and adjustable vents. They can also be worn in different seasons and weather conditions with their durable outer shell made from abrasion-resistant, waterproof/water-resistant, and breathable fabric.
These jackets typically have a loose fit for improved rider mobility—with fasteners on certain areas so you can adjust them accordingly—and plenty of pockets.
Café Racer Jackets
Café racer jackets were developed in 1960’s England particularly for riders—mostly young men—who raced between cafés and local pubs on both paved roads and off road terrain. They needed a no-frills leather racing jacket they could use for travelling around London at around 160kph.
Café racer jackets are best known for their vintage bomber jacket style with chest and/or side pockets, banded collar with snap closure, a metal symmetrical zipper that goes all the way up the collar, zipped cuffs, and a leather material that may come in different colours. This jacket is the go-to moto clothing of many casual riders, including non-riders who simply love its distinct fashionable style.
Now that you know the different types of motorcycle jackets, let’s discover the important factors you need to consider before buying one.
Most motorcycle jackets are made from either leather or textile, but many use other materials for some of their parts for added comfort and protection to the rider.
Leather—whether kangaroo, goat, sheep, or the popular cowhide—is used for most motorcycle jackets because of its durability and excellent abrasion resistance. Leather also keeps you warm during cold weather.
Textile is lighter than leather and offers a basic level of abrasion resistance. Motorcycle jackets made of textile are easier to wash since they’re lightweight and are more breathable.
This is a high-strength, heat-resistant synthetic material used in various protective applications such as combat helmets, ballistic vests and bulletproof face masks. Motorcycle jackets that make use of Kevlar offer superior abrasion and heat protection.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
TPU sliders are often incorporated in the parts of motorcycle jackets that are likely to come in contact with the ground such as the shoulders and elbows.
This type of fabric is soft, absorbent, moisture-wicking and water repellent to keep you cool and dry on the road.
Motorcycle jackets normally have a mesh inner lining that facilitates airflow and improves breathability.
Fit, Size and Comfort
A motorcycle jacket that is too large for you will flap around like wings and increase drag. Whereas, a jacket that is too small will limit your movement and increase rider fatigue.
To get the correct fit, take into consideration your usual jacket size, international sizing, and how your body armour will fit with the jacket.
EU, US and Race Sizing
When shopping for motorcycle jackets online, you will most likely encounter three different sizing systems: American, European, or Race sizing.
Motorcycle jackets sporting the American cut or size generally have a looser fit, offering more room around the arms, shoulders, and waist. The US fit might also be called “touring” or “regular” fit.
Conversely, motorcycle jackets that follow the European sizing system have a more snug fit and a tapered profile. The EU fit might also be called “sport cut” or “slim cut”.
Lastly, the race sizing or race fit is perfect for the professional sports bike rider. Race style jackets have a snug fit and usually come with pre-curved sleeves for greater comfort while in a tucked riding position.
Use a tape measure and ask someone to help you get your accurate body size.
Ask the person helping you to wrap the tape measure around your chest and back. Take note of the measurements.
Measure the length from your shoulder down to your elbow. Record this measurement as well.
To get your waist measurement, start from one inch above your navel and then wrap the tape around your torso.
These measurements will be very useful particularly if you plan on buying your motorcycle jacket online. Refer to the size chart provided by the distributor or manufacturer so you can choose a jacket that will fit you well.
If you are buying in store, try on different motorcycle jackets to see which one fits you best. Keep in mind that a good-quality leather motorcycle jacket will eventually conform to the shape of your body, giving you a tighter fit over time.
When it comes to motorcycle jackets, the rule of thumb is the thicker, the better. Thickness is linked to weight and weight is associated with the jacket’s ability to provide abrasion protection.
Cruiser and cafe racer jackets are usually 1mm to 1.2mm thick. Heavyweight leather jackets are around 1.4mm thick. They provide the best protection against abrasion associated with slides and high-speed crashes.
However, thickness is not the only factor that plays a role in the durability of leather jackets. You also need to consider the quality of its seams and stitches, leather treatment, and finish.
Motorcycle jackets without proper ventilation features can make you sweat profusely and give you a lot of discomfort. Choose a motorcycle jacket that will not only fit you properly but also allow air to flow through the material and around your body as well.
Depending on the materials used, type of construction and added features, the price of motorcycle jackets may range from below $100 to over $1,000. More expensive jackets offer greater abrasion and impact resistance, built-in removable protectors (e.g. back, chest, elbows) and excellent breathability.
Some motorcycle jackets come with built-in body armour while others have pockets where you can insert protective gear. If your jacket doesn’t have built-in armour, look for those designed to accommodate protectors particularly in the high-risk areas, such as the spine, elbows, arms, and shoulders.
Some jackets also have design features with a safety function, such as strips of high-visibility fabrics and reflective prints.
Most motorcycle jackets come in black, brown, or grey, but there are some brightly coloured ones, too. Neon-coloured motorcycle jackets are ideal for riding at night or in low-visibility conditions so other motorists can see you. They’re also perfect for confident riders who like turning heads while they’re on the road!
Upgrade your upper body protection
Choosing the right motorcycle jacket is simple and easy once you’ve figured out your riding style, size, and personal preferences. Just bear in mind that everything about your motorcycle jacket should enhance your safety on the road.