The Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets [Read Before Buying!]

If you’re like me, every leather good puts you in a state of frenzy. My hands dart to my wallet. Card comes out. New jacket slides on. Smile appears on my face. 

Fine leather goods

Never mind the sweltering July heat when I step out of the store. I am a living embodiment of cool and calm masculinity as I don the refined emblem of rebellion.

Now finding the perfect leather motorcycle jacket so you don’t end up penniless like me? That’s the challenge I’ve set out to conquer for you in this post. I promise, after reading this blog post, you’ll be one step closer to owning the perfect leather motorcycle jacket that you’ve always dreamed of.

Let’s get into it.

Why a Leather Motorcycle Jacket?

Why a Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Why is leather so popular in the motorcycling world? Let me enlighten you. 

  • Safety like no other: Leather offers a higher level of protection than other materials used in motorcycle jackets. It’s resistant to abrasion, often with a ‘denier’ (measure of abrasion resistance) over 1000D. That’s suitable for slides on a track at 70mph. Most textiles don’t make it past 600D. 
  • Durability: Well treated leather (here’s my guide) is a long-lasting material. A good quality motorcycle jacket might even make it to your kids, or at least a resale shop. 
  • The look: Let’s be honest, a well-fitted leather jacket is the epitome of style. You may not want to look like you just stepped off a motorcycle (even if you did). A good leather jacket can be worn off the bike, blending seamlessly into your everyday wardrobe.
  • No loud logos (sometimes): Jackets plastered with logos and brand names make you look like a walking billboard. While many sport leather jackets unfortunately have that look (except two I drop down below), most leather motorcycle jackets are timeless, classic pieces.

Where does leather fall short against other textiles used in motorcycle jackets?

Well for one, leather is thick and heavy. You aren’t going to like a leather jacket when you’re riding through the rainforest. That’s why most adventure jackets use Kevlar, polyester and nylon composites like Cordura. 

Finally, leather is usually more expensive than the other textiles in motorcycle jackets. That means good quality leather jackets will start around $300, whereas a decent textile jacket can be just over $100. But as always, you get what you pay for. Good quality leather will save your skin in just about any slide. That $50 mesh jacket? It’s saying goodbye as soon as you touch the pavement. 

But what is good quality leather for a motorcycle jacket?

You’re looking for genuine, full grain leather. It’ll usually be cowhide, which offers a good balance of protection, comfort, and durability. Deerskin leather is better than cowhide, but much more rare. Kangaroo is the king of leather, being lightweight, strong, and highly abrasion resistant. 

Thickness is important too – most non-motorcycle leather jackets won’t be thick enough (or well-built enough) to withstand a motorcycle crash. You want over 1 mm thick leather. Race-ready leather will be at least 1.4 mm, and sometimes as thick as 2mm.

I don’t know about you, but I am not an expert at judging the quality of a tanned hide. So who should we trust to protect us with leather motorcycle jackets? 

Trusted Brands for Leather Motorcycle Jackets

When it comes to leather motorcycle jackets, buying from a trusted brand is critical. 

Don’t get suckered into wearing a fashion leather jacket on your bike. These are VERY different jackets, from the thickness of their leather to their seams and construction quality. They are not built to survive sliding on pavement at even 30 mph. 

So, stay away from those shady Instagram ads and drop-shippers, and instead, focus on brands that have proven their worth in the world of motorcycle gear. To help you out, here’s a list of some top-notch brands that you can count on.

First Manufacturing

The Biker’s Budget Savior: First Manufacturing delivers high-quality leather jackets without burning a hole in your wallet, making them the go-to option for cost-conscious riders.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Commuter Leather Jacket – AmazonRevzilla
  2. Top Performer Leather Jacket – AmazonRevzilla

Milwaukee Leather

All About Versatility: Milwaukee Leather offers a wide range of jackets, from classic cruiser styles to modern sporty designs, ensuring there’s something for every biker.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Men’s Classic Side Lace Police Style Motorcycle Jacket
  2. Women’s Embossed Phoenix Jacket

Vanson

Track-Ready Protection: Vanson’s racing heritage shines through their jackets, which provide top-notch protection and durability for those seeking high-performance gear.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Vanson Comet Jacket
  2. Vanson AR3 Motorcycle Jacket

Schott

Timeless American Classic: Schott’s legendary Perfecto jacket sets the standard for cool, making them the perfect choice for riders who want an iconic piece of Americana in their wardrobe.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Perfecto 618 Motorcycle Jacket
  2. Café Racer 141 Motorcycle Jacket

Joe Rocket

Function Meets Affordability: Joe Rocket strikes the balance between quality and cost, offering functional and stylish leather jackets that won’t break the bank.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Joe Rocket Classic ’92 Jacket – Amazon Revzilla
  2. Joe Rocket Atomic 5.0 Jacket

Belstaff

The Fashionable Biker: Belstaff combines high-end fashion with functionality, making their jackets a top choice for riders who want to look effortlessly stylish both on and off the bike.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Belstaff Trialmaster Jacket – AmazonRevzilla
  2. Belstaff Brooklands Jacket

Roland Sands

Customized Cool: Roland Sands Design brings their passion for custom motorcycles to their jackets, offering unique designs and features that cater to the individualistic rider.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Roland Sands Ronin Jacket – AmazonRevzilla
  2. Roland Sands Clash Jacket

Rev’it

Innovative Design Guru: Rev’it stands out with their cutting-edge designs and use of advanced materials, making their jackets a top pick for riders who want the latest in motorcycle gear technology.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Rev’it Gibson Jacket
  2. Rev’it Ignition 3 Jacket

Goldtop

Vintage Vibes: Goldtop specializes in classic, vintage-style leather jackets that evoke the golden era of motorcycling, making them a popular choice among riders seeking timeless appeal.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Goldtop 1975 Café Racer Jacket
  2. Goldtop Bobber Jacket

Alpinestars

High-Performance All-Rounder: Alpinestars offers a wide range of options that cater to various riding styles, from casual cruising to aggressive racing, all while maintaining their reputation for top-quality gear.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Alpinestars Brera Airflow Jacket
  2. Alpinestars GP Plus R v2 Jacket – AmazonRevzilla

Dainese

Italian Craftsmanship at Its Finest: Dainese’s meticulous attention to detail, premium materials, and sleek designs make their jackets a top choice for riders seeking the ultimate combination of style, comfort, and protection.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Dainese Super Speed D1 Jacket
  2. Dainese Razon Leather Jacket

Harley-Davidson

Born to Be Wild: Harley-Davidson’s jackets cater specifically to the brand’s loyal fanbase, offering a range of options that perfectly complement the iconic Harley riding experience.

Iconic Jackets:

  1. Harley-Davidson Victory Sweep Leather Jacket
  2. Harley-Davidson Triple Vent Passing Link II Leather Jacket

So don’t let me catch you in the department store looking through cheap faux leather options. Your family and friends deserve better. Your skin deserves better. Go with one of the trusted brands above, or at least something on Revzilla. If it’s on Revzilla, it’s probably good. 

What to Look For When Buying a Leather Motorcycle Jacket

What to Look For When Buying a Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Here’s how to sort junk from gens when it comes to leather motorcycle jackets. I’m giving you a quick list so you can vet every jacket you look at. You’ll be in the perfect jacket for you in no time. 

  • Supple – Leather Should Hug
  • Thickness – It Matters
  • Adjustability for the Perfect Fit
  • Stitching – The Unsung Hero
  • Ventilation – Feel the Breeze
  • Style Points – Turn Heads
  • Armor Up – More than Denier
  • Bonus Features – The Cherry on Top

Supple – Leather Should Fit

A good leather jacket should be supple and comfortable when it wraps around you. It’ll shape itself to your body over time, ensuring a comfortable fit that feels like a second skin.

Thickness – It Matters

When it comes to leather thickness, go big or go home! You want at least 1mm thick leather for maximum protection. Thicker leather offers better abrasion resistance, which is crucial when you’re sliding on the pavement like a human hockey puck.

Adjustability for the Perfect Fit

A well-fitting jacket is like a tailor-made suit for bikers. Look for waist adjuster straps to prevent the jacket from riding up (no fun in a crash). Check for zips at the forearms so it’s both easy to throw on and secure in the sleeves during a crash. You’ll also want stretch panels at the shoulders and back, because flexibility is the key to freedom (especially in sport leather jackets).

Stitching – The Unsung Hero

Triple-stitched seams are the unsung heroes of leather jackets. They’re less likely to come apart during a slide, keeping you protected and your jacket intact. This is where fashion leathers immediately miss the boat – those seams or so weak they’ll come apart before you hit the ground!

Ventilation – Feel the Breeze 

Riding can get hotter than a jalapeño in a sauna, so having a ventilated jacket is a must. Look for zippered vents, a cool mesh lining, a center vent (second zipper) and perforated leather. You won’t find all of these in a single jacket, but a jacket with none will be mighty irritating on those sweltering summer rides.

Style Points – Turn Heads

Let’s be honest – you want a jacket that looks good. Opt for low-key logos and a design that suits your style, so you can turn heads on and off the bike.

Armor Up – More than Denier

Armor protects you from impacts in a crash, but many leather jackets leave it out. That’s fine as long as the jacket you’re looking at has slots for armor: just pick up a set and slide them in. A thin set of D3O or SAS-TEC armor will save your spine and bones in a crash without adding any bulk to your jacket. Be sure to add to the elbows, shoulders, and back of your jacket. 

Bonus Features – The Cherry on Top

Keep an eye out for jackets with liners: either thermal, waterproof, or both. Those can turn a two season jacket into a three season one, and keep you high and dry in unexpected downpours. 

Best Leather Jackets for Cruisers or Cafes

Looking for a classic or vintage leather look? These are your picks. 

Merlin Gable WP Jacket – Safest

Merlin Gable WP Jacket
(Image Source: Merlin)

Besides the understated look, this jacket stands out to me for two reasons. 

First, this is a truly waterproof leather jacket. Most leather jackets give in after so much as a sprinkle, weighing you down and letting you soak up all the rain. 

truly waterproof leather jacket is awesome

Not the Merlin Gable WP. This jacket is made of 1.3-1.4mm waterproof leather that’s tape-seamed. Even the zippers are YKK locking waterproof zips. That’s unprecedented in a leather jacket. 

The second reason is this jacket earned the top possible safety standard: CE AAA rating under the new EN 17092-2 standard. That’s race-level protection you’ll see on 2mm thick Dainese Misano track suits. Incredible. 

Included with this jacket are D30 CE Level 1 elbow and shoulder armor, plus a D30 Level 1 back protector. They even threw in a 125g thermal liner (full body) to keep you warm.

Pick up the Merlin Gable WP Jacket and never worry about a slide or a downpour again. 

Actually, the safest leather motorcycle jacket money can buy is probably the Helite Leather Airbag Jacket – it’s safer than any armor can ever be!

Scorpion 1909 – Classic

Scorpion EXO 1909 Leather Jacket
(Image Source: Scorpion)

With its soft, distressed leather and antique brass YKK zippers, the Scorpion 1909 hails back to the daring days of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Leather helmets and wood tracks… safety was not much of a concern back then. 

But the Scorpion 1909 carries modern safety measures, with Sas-Tec Level 2 armor at your elbows and shoulders. They thought through ventilation too, with  perforated panels under the arms and along the sides of the torso so you can feel that sweet, sweet breeze. Plus, it’s got two zippered rear vents for even more airflow.

Adjust to find the perfect fit with rib stretch panels at the side hems, rear waist adjustment tabs, and zipper closures at the wrists. Stay warm with the removable EverHeat jacket liner with Kwikwick panels. 

The Scorpion 1909 is everything for a vintage rider. 

First Manufacturing Fillmore Jacket – Iconic

First Manufacturing Fillmore Jacket
(Image Source: Firstmfg)

The First Manufacturing Fillmore Jacket has the classic Peter Fonda in Easy Rider look like the Schott 118 Perfecto, but without costing an arm and a leg. It’s a low key look that comes in multiple colorways too: black, brown, and red. 

You get 1.1-1.2mm cowhide with a classic wide snap-down collar. Inside you’ll find not one, but TWO concealed carry pockets with ammo snaps and tapered holsters. Never ride naked again. 

The back is shaped for cruiser riding and the underarm grommets keep the air flowing while you’re hanging off your apes. Sleeves open up with zippers and a removable belt keeps the jacket tight on you on the highway. 

An absolutely classic look for a third the price of the iconic Schott 118

Also available in a Women’s cut on Revzilla

Street & Steel Athena – For the Ladies

Street & Steel Athena Women's Jacket
(Image Source: CycleGear)

Street & Steel is an in-house brand with Revzilla, but it never fails to impress. This jacket comes in below most leather pieces, but includes features you usually don’t get in the high end (read: snobby) leather motorcycle jackets. 

What features? Take perforated panels on the torso, mesh air-flow lining, and a VAX variable air exchange system to keep you cool (and NOT jab you). A weapon and ammo pocket (of course). And adjustments at the waist not only to tighten down, but to expand a bit too. Elbow and shoulder protectors included with a spot for a back protector to slide in. 

This is a winner for any badass lady on a Hog or Indian. 

If the Fillmore or Athena aren’t doing it for you, check out the best women’s motorcycle jackets. 

Best Leather Jackets for Sport Riding

These are sport-cut leather jackets for track or street riding, featuring pre-curved sleeves and shoulder sliders. 

Alpinestars Fusion Leather Jacket – Safest

Alpinestars Fusion Leather Jacket
(Image Source: Alpinestars)

This is my top pick for safest leather jacket. It’s new from Alpinestars, but that doesn’t mean it’s untested. Alpinestars puts their gear through the ringer – no wonder so many MotoGP riders are decked out in their race suits. 

How do I know the Fusion is so good? It earned a AAA CE rating, certified to standard EN 17092-2. What does that mean? This baby offers the best protection money can buy. Both impact and abrasion protection are on par with MotoGP’s race standards. Plus, this jacket integrates seamlessly with the Alpinestars TechAir 5 airbag technology, which is probably the best investment you can make after a helmet. 

That AAA rating tells you everything you need to know about the leather quality in this jacket. It’s worth knowing the stretch panels on this jacket are made of Rideknit, a new material from Alpinestars that slides better than ever. You also get perforations all over to let more air through.

Now, let’s talk style. The Alpinestars Fusion Leather Jacket features huge logos everywhere, so you are a walking billboard. However, if you prefer a more subtle look, you can get it in black-on-black to hide the logos. 

Get the best in track safety at the links below (Amazon’s is for the race suit version!)

Want the tried-and-true version of this jacket? Check out the Alpinestars GP Plus R V3 Rideknit Leather Jacket on Amazon or Revzilla.

Alpinestars Core Airflow Leather Jacket – Low Key Look

Alpinestars Core Airflow Jacket
(Image Source: Alpinestars)

This jacket is a cut above the rest with its low-key logos, rare for Alpinestars. It features 1.1mm full-grain leather all around, providing top-notch protection for any ride you take. But that’s not all – the perforations in the leather allow for maximum ventilation, keeping you cool and comfortable on hot summer days.

And let’s talk about protection. The shoulder sliders and pockets for chest and back protectors ensure you’re ready for any track shenanigans. Plus, the stretch panels at the back, chest, underarms, and waist allow for a snug and comfortable fit, giving you the flexibility to move freely on your bike.

One of the standout features of this jacket is the extended lower back, offering additional coverage while tucked in on those high-speed runs. 

Overall, the Alpinestars Core Airflow Leather Jacket is a top-of-the-line choice for any rider who values both style and protection.

Alpinestars Stella Kira Jacket – Lady’s Choice

Alpinestars Stella Kira Jacket
(Image Source: Alpinestars)

The Stella line of jackets consistently knocks it out of the park for women’s track and sport gear. The 1.3mm cowhide is plenty strong without being restrictive, and the stretch panels are cut for a woman’s shape. 

While the jacket is fully leather, there are zippered air intake vents and perforations for a bit of extra flow. The sleeves feature zippers as well to help you get the jacket on and then cinch it down when you’re ready to ride. Getting cold? Pop in the removable thermal liner. 

Here’s the best part: This jacket, like the new Fusion, is CE AAA rated. Put in armor in the chest and back protection slots to go along with the included CE Level 1 shoulder and elbow armor, and you’re nearly invincible. 

FAQs

The most popular brands for high quality leather motorcycle jackets are: First Manufacturing, Milwaukee Leather, Vanson, Schott, Joe Rocket, Belstaff, Roland Sands, Rev’it, Goldtop, Alpinestars, Dainese, and Harley Davidson. Of course there are many more, but this is a good start. 

How much does a leather motorcycle jacket weigh?

​​A leather motorcycle jacket usually weighs more than a textile jacket, clocking in between 4 to 7 pounds, give or take. A small price to pay for looking like a total boss on the road.

Should a leather motorcycle jacket be tight?

A leather motorcycle jacket should be tight enough to hug you like a long-lost friend, but not so tight it takes your breath away. Leather will stretch over time, so keep that in mind. Opt for European cut jackets like Goldtop, Roland Sands, or Dainese if you’re on the slender side. And make sure the cuffs are snug on you (snaps or a zipper help). 

Are leather motorcycle jackets better?

A: Leather reigns supreme in the land of abrasion resistance, but it’s not exactly the coolest kid on the block when it comes to airflow. If you’re riding in hot and humid climates, look at summer jackets. But leather jackets will always look more cooler. I guarantee it. 

Why do bikers wear leather jackets?

Bikers wear leather jackets because of a mix of practicality and style. Leather jackets offer top-notch abrasion resistance, and let’s face it, they just look downright great. With leather you can look like you just rolled out of Easy Rider while sporting the protection the pros over at MotoGP trust their lives with. 

What is the difference between a motorcycle jacket and a leather jacket?

Not all leather jackets are created equal! Motorcycle jackets have sturdier stitching, tougher seams, and thicker leather to withstand the insane conditions of a motorcycle crash. A normal leather jacket, as tough as it makes you look, will not survive a simple low-speed slide. Mostly thanks to weak stitching!

Will rain ruin a leather motorcycle jacket?

Rain won’t ruin your leather jacket, and you can even waterproof it to keep those pesky raindrops at bay (check this out on Amazon). Ride on, rain or shine!

Evan Rally
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