While riding a motorcycle is an exhilarating experience, it always comes with the risk of a crash. Training and experience limit the chance of a crash, though you still could go down through no fault of your own. No matter what kind of motorcycle you ride, there’s one piece of gear that’s absolutely essential: a good jacket for motorcycle riding.
Not only do jackets protect you from the elements, but they can also help keep your upper body safe in the event of a crash. With so many different types and styles of motorcycle jackets on the market, however, it can be tough to know which one is right for you. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide to the best motorcycle jackets for style and safety in every category. We’ll help you consider all the factors: type of riding, weather, comfort, style, and price.
Whether you’re looking for modern textile jackets with all the latest features or a leather piece with classic cool, we’ve got you covered. So read on to find the perfect jacket for your needs!
- Why should I buy a motorcycle jacket?
- What to Look for in a Jacket for Motorcycle Riding
- The Best Adventure Textile Jackets for All Conditions
- The Best Touring Motorcycle Jackets for Long Rides
- The Best Cafe Motorcycle Jackets for City Riding
- The Best Sport Motorcycle Jackets for Track and Speed
- Picking the Right Motorcycle Jacket for You
Why should I buy a motorcycle jacket?
Whether you’re looking for a fashionable statement or simply seeking to keep your torso safe on the road, purchasing the best motorcycle jacket can sometimes seem like an overwhelming task. There is no single solution that fits all riders since riding styles and personal preferences vary widely. With this guide, we aim to supply you with everything necessary to select a winning motorcycle jacket – including materials, features and other elements – so that your purchase will both look good and perform well!
What to Look for in a Jacket for Motorcycle Riding
What will you want to consider when selecting a motorcycle jacket?
Context and Riding Style
The ‘best’ jacket depends on how you’re using it. A trail ride on a dirt bike through the mountains will require completely different gear than a 5-day street ride on a touring bike. Consider what you’ll be riding in, the chance of a crash, the climate and more. You may want to buy multiple jackets rather than try to make one piece fit every use case.
Weather and Climate
A good jacket suits the climate you ride in. If you’re riding in a hot climate, you may want all-mesh construction to allow air right through. However, if you ride in a colder climate, you may want limited airflow or only small vents to allow some ventilation when and where you need it.
Other riders will look for something that can suit both hot and cold weather, or even rain. In this case, look for modular jackets with a shell and liner that can be removed. I wore one of these when crossing the USA in the summer. In the mountains I put a waterproof liner in and closed up all the vents to keep it cozy, while in the desert I ditched the rain liner and opened up large vents on the chest and back to allow air to flow right through.
Keep in mind you can also add your own rain gear on top, which might be a cheaper or more comfortable option.
Visibility is your first line of defense to help you avoid a crash altogether. If drivers can’t see you, it doesn’t matter how fancy your jacket is – you’re much more likely to suffer injury.
While all-black is a nice look, you’ll want to make sure it has some reflective bits. Many jackets these days feature a classic look, while integrating reflective seams and piping to help increase visibility. However, you can also ditch the black for a highly reflective or bright color like orange or neon-green so drivers have a hard time not seeing you.
Materials are the first line of defense in a crash, while also being important to style and comfort. The classic material for a motorcycle jacket is good ‘ol leather with its great abrasion resistance and look, however it brings a lot of weight and traps heat. Space-age materials like Kevlar (AKA Para-Aramid), Cordura, and Dyneema in a mesh jacket provide similar durability to leather without the weight or heat.
While materials play a large role in reducing the impact of abrasion from sliding against pavement, armor does the bulk of the work of reducing injury in a harder crash. Most jackets these days include armor, but not all armor is built the same.
Skip the cheap foam excuses for armor and look for D3O (it’s usually orange) or similar rubbery protectors. You’ll notice these are soft and pliable, until a hard impact – at which point they tense up. Look for CE Level 1 or Level 2 ratings. You’ll want at least elbow armor, shoulder armor, and a back protector. However, you can also find jackets with chest and forearm protection, especially in racing or off-road gear. Some even include integrated airbags, like our pick for best touring jacket.
Fit and Comfort
Fit and comfort change widely depending on each rider, but some jackets can flex more than others to fit you just how you like. Some jackets will include adjustable components with velcro, snaps, or zippers to fit you just right. The finish on higher-end jackets will also mean less pinch points or seam scratches than cheaper jackets. You will also want to consider how you sit when you ride. Sportbike jackets will typically fit a more hunched-over position, while touring jackets will accommodate an upright position with arms outstretched to reach swept-back bars.
Without further ado, let’s get in to the best motorcycle jacket in four categories: Adventure, Touring, Cafe, and Sport riding. We’ll include both a premium option and a budget option
The Best Adventure Textile Jackets for All Conditions
Adventure jackets need to be light, breathable, flexible, and suitable for multiple climates. Ditch the leather and look for synthetic textiles that offer flexibility and breathability. You’ll want adjustability, plenty of pockets and a good back protector — though you can buy one like this to insert. You’ll want strong armor to take all the hits the backgrounds can throw at you – from branches to logs and rocks. Jackets with Gore-Tex or rain liners shine for adventure riding, when you never know what you’ll encounter. The best jacket in this category is the Klim Badlands Pro Jacket with the budget option being the Scorpion EXO Yosemite Jacket.
Klim Badlands Pro Jacket
The Klim Badlands Pro Jacket is the pinnacle of adventure motorcycle jackets. Klim included the most premium materials money can buy for this jacket and armor, including Gore-Tex Pro for breathable waterproofing and D3O Aero Pro CE Level 2 armor in the shoulders, elbows, and back. You’ll also find ventilated armor in the chest to protect from front impacts.
That armor and material earned this jacket a CE AA safety rating – good for highway-speed slides. You are in good hands in this jacket.
This jacket has a staggering 14 pockets: 11 outside and 3 inside, as well as a 3 liter Hydrapak reservoir. You get plenty of vents down the arms and on the chest and back for optimal airflow.
Finally, you’ll find many adjustment straps on the arms and sides plus a kidney belt to help fit the jacket right to you and take the weight off your shoulders. Integrate this jacket with a neck brace and these Klim pants for the ultimate in adventure protection.
Scorpion Yosemite Jacket
For a budget adventure jacket option, the Scorpion Yosemite Jacket provides all-weather protection with a waterproof liner and thermal liner. You’ll also find CE Level 2 armor in the elbows and shoulders, with a foam back pad. Fit and finish are fantastic, with Exo-Stitch Safety Seams, adjustment straps for the arms, and plenty of zippered vents and panels for airflow. This jacket also connects to pants, for a one-piece riding suit. Plus, it comes in a high-visibility version for just a few bucks more!
The Best Touring Motorcycle Jackets for Long Rides
Touring motorcycle jackets should protect you from slides on the pavement and be able to protect you from high winds during long rides on the highway. Durability is important for frequent use, so look for jackets made from tough, abrasion-resistant materials like leather. Look for features like adjustable cuffs and armholes to ensure a snug fit that won’t get in your way. The best jacket in this category is the Helite Leather Airbag Jacket with the budget option being the Scorpion Optima Jacket.
Helite Leather Airbag Jacket
The Helite Leather Airbag Jacket is the premier touring motorcycle jacket for long rides. Constructed from high-grade leather with a soft collar and wrist fasteners, you’ll want to wear this jacket off the bike too. But what really sets this jacket apart is its airbag technology: when sensors detect you’re in a crash, the airbag inflates fully in just 0.1 seconds to protect your chest, neck, and spine from impact. Additionally, you’ll find Knox CE certified elbow and shoulder armor plus a Sas-Tec CE Level 2 back protector. Furthermore, it has two large zippered pockets on the front to store items securely while riding. The Helite Leather Airbag Jacket is a premium touring motorcycle jacket that offers unparalleled safety and protection without sacrificing style or comfort – perfect for long rides!
Scorpion Optima Jacket
The Scorpion Optima Jacket is a great choice for those looking for an affordable touring motorcycle jacket. Constructed with abrasion-resistant and waterproof materials, this jacket will keep you warm and dry. In a crash, CE certified elbow and shoulder will cushion the blow. There’s just a foam pad in the back, so you’ll want to insert a proper back protector like this one in there. You get two pockets on the front and three inside (one for a phone), with adjustable wrist holes. One of our favorite features is the microfleece lining at the color, which doesn’t chaff against your neck. Plus, you get an EverHeat thermal liner! Coming in at a low price point for similar jackets, this is a great option if you’re on a budget.
The Best Cafe Motorcycle Jackets for City Riding
It’s hard to find a jacket for a cafe racer that doesn’t sacrifice safety for style. A cafe motorcycle jacket needs to provide superior protection in the form of abrasion-resistant materials while also functioning as a fashion piece that turns heads. You need a lightweight piece of gear you can wear all day that’s still strong enough to protect you from slides on the pavement. The fit of the jacket should be snug with classic pre-curved arms but also allow you to move freely so that it won’t hinder your ride. That makes the best jacket for cafe riders the Schott 141 Cafe Racer Jacket with the best budget option being the Joe Rocket Classic ’92 Jacket.
Schott 141 Cafe Racer Jacket
The Schott 141 is an heirloom piece with a storied history, first made for Peter Fonda in 1961 for the film Easy Rider. While the 141 lacks armor, it makes up for it by utilizing the best leather money can buy that’s up to 1.5mm thick with no imperfections. This leather is softer than what you’ll find on most motorcycle jackets, but it will last you a lifetime – literally. Some riders today are wearing hand-me-downs of this jacket from their dad. You’ll find a thermal liner inside for more warmth in the winter, without affecting the look. Zippers in the sleeves make it easy to slide in to this jacket, while waist straps allow you to tailor the fit. This is Schott’s highest-selling jacket for good reason, so pick one up now!
Considering a used one? Check eBay to see if you can snag a Schott for cheap.
Joe Rocket Classic ’92 Jacket
The Joe Rocket Classic ’92 Jacket is both functional and stylish, with multiple leather colors from black to brown and even red. You get 1.2mm thick cowhide and a full quilted liner for warm, 4 outside zippered pockets, and a neoprene lined collar for comfort on your skin. Beyond that thick leather you’ll also find pockets for a back protector as well as elbow and shoulder armor to slide in your own armor like Nucleon Flex from Alpinestars. With subtle armor slid in, the Joe Rocket Classic ’92 provides ample protection in a slick style fit for any cafe racer zipping around New York City or London.
The Best Sport Motorcycle Jackets for Track and Speed
A sport or track motorcycle jacket should be lightweight, highly breathable and flexible, providing riders with increased mobility and comfort when taking turns at speed. You’ll want a fit that falls snug over your shoulders while you’re hunched on your bike, meaning an elongated back and pre-curved arms. You definitely want good armor and very abrasion resistant material all the way up to the collar in case you wipe out. Alpinestars and Dainese are two spectacular brands in this area, so we’ll look at two jackets from them: the Dainese Avro 4 Jacket on the premium side and the Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air Jacket on the budget end.
Dainese Avro 4 Jacket
The Dainese Avro 4 is track and sport ready, with aluminum scrapers on shoulders and elbows allowing for easy slides in a wipe-out. The jacket is almost entirely cowhide leather with some bielastic fabric for nice stretch and fit as you move around your bike in turns. Rare for a race jacket, you’ll also get a thermal liner in this jacket which you can wear as a separate jacket on cool days. There is no back protector included in this jacket, though that’s to be expected to allow you to pick the one you like the most. In the sportbike seating position, a poorly-fitting back protector can really ruin your ride – so start your search for a back protector here. You may also want to pick up some leather riding pants that can zip in to this jacket. Best to start with the jacket, so snag the Dainese Avro 4 for a comfortable and safe ride on and off the track.
Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air
The Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air Jacket is an affordable option for sport riding, though it does lack the leather you want to see in a true track-ready jacket. The external sliders and abrasion resistant polyester will do a decent job in a crash, while the look matches leather riding jackets that cost three times as much. You’ll find thin and pliable Nucleon Flex CE Level 1 armor in the elbow and chest, with a slot for a back protector like this one.
Some nice features of this jacket include its pre-curved sleeves to reduce fatigue in the sportbike riding position, velcro waist and wrist adjustments, and a waterproof inner pocket for your phone should you get caught in the rain. You’ll also find a full circumference waist zipper for attaching riding pants. A full leather version of this jacket comes in at about twice the price, should you want that added protection.
The Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air is well reviewed, with commenters focusing on the comfortable fit and plentiful airflow. If you want protection on your sportbike both on the street and track without breaking the bank, the T-GP Plus R v3 Air is the right option for you.
Picking the Right Motorcycle Jacket for You
When shopping for your motorcycle jacket, consider your preferred types of riding and keep your comfort top of mind. An uncomfortable jacket is one that will distract you while you ride, or cause you to not wear it at all! For general riding in a variety of weather conditions and temperatures, textile jackets are often best. However, leather provides tried-and-true protection and unmatched style.
A great jacket should include armor at key points like the shoulders, elbows and back, to provide protection in a crash. Riding at high speeds may call for thicker textile layers or leather – look for abrasion resistant garments with Kevlar or a similar fiber from trusted brands. Plenty of options are available to keep you safe, protected and looking good at the same time!
Now that you know what to look for in a motorcycle jacket, it’s time to start shopping around. The good news is there are plenty of great options out there from some of the most trusted brands in motorcycling. Revzilla carries all of the brands we mentioned in this article and more, plus includes customer reviews and their own video walkthroughs for most products. Head over to Revzilla and find the perfect touring, adventure, road or sport motorcycle jacket for your rides. Let us know which one you choose!
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