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Let me say something that might shock you.
You’re not really here for a summer jacket.
If you’re reading this from your yacht down in the Keys, maybe you are. Or you live somewhere that’s just never cold. But those are both rare.
What you’re here for is a single all-around riding jacket that you won’t MELT in when the mercury rises over 80 degrees. Other lists of summer jackets just don’t get this: they give you a couple weak and purely mesh jackets for $200+ and send you on your way. Or worse, they recommend denim riding shirts. On what Earth is that suitable for summer…?
And that, ladies in gentlemen, is why I needed to put this list together. From the beaches of southern Thailand to the deserts of Arizona in July, I have more experiences being hot on a motorcycle than anyone wants or deserves.
A good summer motorcycle jacket has…
- Breathability and airflow in all the right places – especially torso and underarm ventilation
- Lots of scrape (abrasion) protection – otherwise, why even wear a jacket?
- Adjustability to help keep armor in place while air flows through.
- Cold and rainy weather protection when you need it (read: removable liners)
I consulted friends, did the research, and sweated buckets to deliver you this list of motorcycle jackets that hit all these criteria without making you look like Britney Spears.
The last pick will knock your socks off with how much value it packs for the price.
Let’s get you in a jacket you love. Otherwise, you just won’t wear it.
Here we go!
- Measuring Abrasion Resistance in Denier
- My Pick: Sedici Marco Mesh WP Jacket
- Best Summer Jacket for Cruiser Riders
- Best Summer Jacket for Cafe Racers
- Best Summer Jacket for Sport Riders
- The Strongest Summer Motorcycle Jacket
- The BEST VALUE Summer Motorcycle Jacket
- Guide to Buying a Summer Motorcycle Jacket
- Tips to Stay Cool Riding in Summer
- Summer Motorcycling FAQs
One last thing before I get into recommendations. We need to talk about abrasion resistance.
Measuring Abrasion Resistance in Denier
Defining Denier: You’ll often see jackets refer to their materials as 300 D, 600 D, 1000 D etc. That D means ‘denier’, and it’s a measure of the thickness of the fibers used in a garment. Higher denier means tougher fabric, and a longer high-speed slide time before your skin touches pavement. I’ve kept an eye on denier in these recommendations, since many summer jackets have scary-low denier.
Let’s get into the best jackets for summer and hot weather riding. If you’re looking for best jackets overall, you can find those here.
My Pick: Sedici Marco Mesh WP Jacket
I personally owned (and lost) this jacket during a ride all around the USA. Through the scorching heat of Texas I felt like I was wearing nothing at all. Through the cool Great Smoky Mountains I felt snug and comfortable. In the torrential spring rains of North Carolina I was high and dry.
I got to put this jacket through its paces during a ride across the USA. Alas, I lost it in Paris, Texas. Cue the violins.
This jacket walks the walk, and for under $200 it does it for a steal.
What I love about this jacket is it’s a lightweight all-season jacket that still leaves you dough to buy good riding pants, boots, and gloves. With a rain liner and adjustable arms, it’s all-weather as well from rain and cold to the hottest summer days anywhere on Earth. You get CE Level 2 elbow and shoulder armor which is usually found only in jackets 3x this price. Ample waterproofed pockets keep your phone and lunch dry. Leather just can’t do that.
The only downside is the denier of the polyester fabric: it’s only 450D, even in key areas like elbows and forearms. It’s sure not winning style awards outside the adventure category as well. However, for affordability and versatility, the Sedici Marco cannot be beat.
Highlights: Super affordable and all season, included waterproof liner, adjustable arms, plenty of pockets.
Best Summer Jacket for Cruiser Riders
Look, I’ll save you the lecture. I know half of riding a cruiser is looking the part. I’ve owned a Harley and I still love the hell out of those bikes.
So I will not be telling you to buy a mesh jacket for sAfEtY.
Instead, I’ll walk you through a couple leather and non-leather options that will keep you cool, protected, and badass on your bike.
Perforated Leather: Stay Cool, Look Good
Leather might be hot for summer riding, but if you simply can’t live without it, check out the Street & Steel Blade Jacket for men and the Street & Steel Athena Women’s Jacket for the ladies.
They each draw heat out with a mix of perforated leather and mesh along the sides of the torso and inside the arms.
Your underarms have some of the thinner skin on our body and major blood vessels run near the surface, allowing a lot of heat to come out when you get air flowing up there.
Highlights: Leather look without leather heat.
Looks Leather: Even Cooler, Still Stylish
If I bought a summer jacket for a cruiser today, I would go with the Bilt Nomad Air jacket without a doubt.
Why so certain? You get the best of both leather and mesh on this jacket. Full-grain 1mm cowhide leather along the arms provides strong abrasion resistance in the areas you need it most, as well as the leather look. Subtle black mesh on the chest, back, and inner arms allow air to flow right through. That mesh doesn’t compromise safety either: it’s a shockingly high 750D fabric.
On top of that, you get a removable quilted lining for cold snaps. The only downside? No waterproof liner.
If you live in Florida and a million gallons of rain get dumped on your rides at random, I’m sorry. Second, pick up the Joe Rocket Velocity Mesh jacket. It’s cheaper than the Bilt Nomad Air and comes with a removable waterproof liner.
Best Summer Jacket for Cafe Racers
As much as some will deny it, riding a cafe racer or a vintage bike is often as much about turning heads (or collecting Instagram likes) as it is about the ride itself.
Motorcycle safety gear rarely fits this need, especially in the hot weather jackets department. Maybe because much of the cafe, custom and vintage scene is in England, where I hear it’s bloody cold! Leather is a popular option, as are waxed cotton riding shirts. Both are practical for the brisk English countryside; but not anywhere else in the summer!
Luckily, a friend across the pond clued me in to the Merlin Shenstone Air D3O jacket, which not only looks good but disappears when air comes knocking.
This classic English beauty has large ventilation panels at the torso and inner arms, designed to pull that heat away and keep you feeling fresh as a strawberry shortcake. Even the included D30 elbow and shoulder armor plus D30 Viper Stealth back protector are perforated for extra airflow.
This jacket is still suitable for rainy English days thanks to the removable Reissa liner for water and wind protection.
Highlights: Effortless English vintage style with ample airflow and included rain liner
Best Summer Jacket for Sport Riders
Taking your TurboBusa on the empty mountain roads outside Phoenix in July? Don a full race suit from Dainese or Alpinestars and you’ll heatstroke before you hit redline.
You need something that looks the part and provides the protection you need, without covering every inch of you with leather that could stop a bullet.
You want a balance between breathability and protection. With 3D mesh collar, mesh panels on the torso and arms, and pre-curved sleeves you have breathability and comfort covered.
The safety part knocks it out of the park with 600D abrasion resistant polyester, shoulder sliders, CE Level 1 elbow and shoulder protectors, and pockets for your own back protector and chest armor. All of that earned this jacket CE approval level A, which means it’s good for abrasion and impact protection.
Alpinestars even threw in a full circumference waist zipper so you can zip in some riding pants, like the Alpinestars Ramjet Air pants.
This is all why this jacket made it on our list of best motorcycle jackets, in the Sport category.
Now on to two higher-end breathable jackets for summer riding, both adventure jackets sporting insane durability and versatility.
The Strongest Summer Motorcycle Jacket
Not impressed with my picks so far?
Maybe you’re looking for more protection and higher denier than the jackets I’ve offered so far. I’m glad – you’re looking out for yourself and your family. I respect that, so I have another pick for you that moves air like nobody’s business and provides track-level protection whether you’re on a snowy alpine adventure or thrashing in the muggy Amazon basin.
Welcome to the big leagues: for adventure functionality with MotoGP protection, you need the Klim Induction Pro.
What makes this baby so great? The Karbonite Mesh all around this jacket lets air in like all others, but lives up to its name in another way: it’s 600D+ all around, and 750D to 1000D on key impact points like the shoulders and cuffs. There’s even goat leather – better than cowhide – on the elbows. That means more slide and less chance your skin ends up on the road.
The included elbow and shoulder armor is also D3O CE Level 2, the best money can buy.
This jacket is CE certified to level AA for abrasion and impact resistance, which even some race suits don’t hit.
Klim’s team has probably ridden half the trails on Earth in their first Klim Induction, so this second iteration took in even more wisdom and experience to keep you cool and comfortable in all conditions.
Highlights: Highest abrasion resistant mesh on the market.
The BEST VALUE Summer Motorcycle Jacket
I saved the best for last: the BEST value summer motorcycle jacket money can buy is the Helite Free-Air Mesh Airbag Jacket.
Why do I say it’s the best value? Because this jacket comes equipped with an integrated airbag. You heard that right. And if you’ve read my review of motorcycle airbag, you’ll know that a simple standalone airbag vest STARTS at $700.
So while this jacket is the most expensive on my list, the jacket itself actually costs about the same as your average mesh jacket.
Airbags are probably the single most important factor in reducing injuries and death on a motorcycle second to the humble helmet, so I’m happy to see one in this jacket.
And the jacket isn’t an overpriced extra tossed over the airbag just to justify an additional $250. Class-leading 600D Cordura material is as strong as the Klim Induction Pro, and the mesh panels flow just as much air. Rain and cold fronts can’t stop it either, with a removable fleece-lined waterproof rain liner included.
Already inserted in the jacket are SAS-TEC CE Level 2 elbow and shoulder armor pads, PLUS a back protector.
This jacket, without airbag, could easily be priced at $600 and fly off the shelves. Helite is basically giving this jacket away at the current price. Buy one now before they fire the pricing guy (who clearly made a grave mistake) and double the price.
PRO TIP: Many riders note this jacket runs small. Order a size up from your normal jacket size, and remember your jacket should feel snug. A loose jacket risks riding up in a crash, right when you want it to stay put!.
Highlights: The safest jacket for summer riding at an incredible price.
Guide to Buying a Summer Motorcycle Jacket
Still want to venture out on your own to find the right summer motorcycle jacket for you?
I respect that. Here’s what you need to know, and here are two quick links for summer jackets at Revzilla and Amazon.
Look for the following in a summer motorcycle jacket:
- Vents or mesh in the front and back, at hot points. You lose heat quickly from your neck and from under your arms, so these spots are key. Mesh in the back is key because you won’t get any airflow if the air has no way to escape!
- Adjustable to keep armor in one place, but also to adjust for more airflow. Look for snaps or adjusters at the waist and hem as well as along the arms: cuff, forearm, and upper arm.
- Strong Denier Rating for the material used, meaning it will withstand scrapes on the pavement. Lots of mesh shirts and jackets have very low denier ratings, meaning they’re only suitable for low speed riding.
- Able to layer the jacket with sweaters and rain liners for when the weather turns on you. Many mesh jackets come with included rain liners, which often do the trick.
Tips to Stay Cool Riding in Summer
This deserves its own post, but I’ll mention a few quick hacks I’ve heard of over the years.
The basics of staying cool get down to removing heat from our bodies. You lose a lot of heat from major blood vessels that are close to the skin, say in your underarms and on your neck. A cotton bandana dunked in ice water and wrapped around your neck can do wonders on a hot day.
You can also take a light ‘base layer’ shirt and do the same thing: dunk in ice water and put it on. That’ll suck a lot of heat away from your body as you ride.
Remember to stay hydrated as well. Heat leads to sweating, then dehydration, and ultimately loss of focus or even consciousness. Carry a hydration pack like the Thor Vapor Pack on your back if you ride in the heat. You can even fill it with ice and put it under your jacket, so that ice is pressed up against your back while you ride.
Blissful doesn’t begin to describe that feeling.
Summer Motorcycling FAQs
How do bikers stay cool in summer?
Staying cool in the saddle is all about smart choices and a little creativity. Invest in a breathable, well-ventilated summer motorcycle jacket from the list above. Remember to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drinking plenty of water will help you stay cool and focused. Use moisture-wicking base layers to keep that pesky sweat at bay. And take breaks in the shade when you can.
Is hot weather bad for motorcycles?
Hot weather itself isn’t inherently bad for motorcycles, but it can lead to overheating if you don’t take proper care of your ride. Keep an eye on your coolant levels, oil levels, and tire pressure. And yourself!
How can I sweat less on my motorcycle?
Nobody likes feeling like a sweaty mess on their bike. To keep things fresh and dry, wear moisture-wicking base layers. Also, choose a well-ventilated helmet – you lose a lot of heat through your head. And finally, keep the air flowing by keeping your speed up (safely!) – heavy traffic commutes are not in your favor.
Can it be too hot to ride a motorcycle?
Yes, it can be too hot to ride a motorcycle. If the heat is so extreme that it’s affecting your ability to focus, react, and stay safe on the road, it’s best to postpone your ride. Better safe than sorry, right?
What are signs of an overheating motorcycle?
Keep an eye out for these telltale signs that your bike is getting a little too hot under the collar: 1. Rising oil temperature gauge or warning light 2. Coolant leaking from the overflow tube 3. Engine performance issues, such as loss of power or stalling 4. Unusual smells, like burning oil or coolant.