All About Motorcycle Jackets
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All About Motorcycle Jackets

This is the 3rd article in the series of 6 of how to buy good motorcycle gear.

Motorcycle Jackets. Where do we start? Well, if you ride a motorcycle on the dirt, you probably don't need a motorcycle jacket. You would be wearing a Jersey.

Under the Jersey would be a full set of protective hard armor to protect your entire upper body from the waist to your neck. There are so many injuries in riding dirt that any rider crazy enough to still be riding at age 38 is considered to be too old and over the hill.

Every other motorcyclist should be wearing some type of Jacket. The jacket isn't nearly as important as the helmet and gloves. Ok, so you just bought your new bike and frankly the funds just might be a little tight. You found a way to buy the helmet. Maybe it was part of the deal when you bought the bike.

I hope you thought about how valuable your hands are, so you bought some gloves that were really expensive to you. You just don't have a lot of money left now, do you? I've seen a lot of new riders in sweatshirts and hoodies. Hey, I think this is great. Not every one can afford a jacket right off the bat.

At least they are wearing LONG SLEEVES. The riders you see riding around in T-shirts just aren't very smart. Ladies, do you ride on the back of your boyfriend's bike with shorts and a tank top? If your boyfriend encourages you to do this, he doesn't like you very much. Might consider getting a new boyfriend.

Google road rash and look at the some of the you tube videos. You do not want to get road rash. Think about getting a severe sunburn on your arms, shoulders, your back and your legs. Now, Take a Wire Brush and Rub all your sun burned skin real hard back and forth until the skin starts bleeding.

That's what it feels like at the hospital when the nurses are trying to clean out all the crap ground into your hide. Now, when you go to ride the bike , please wear some kind of jacket.

What Kind of Jacket Should I Buy?

Well, There are Leather Jackets and There are Textile or Mesh Jackets.

Mesh Jackets:

The primary material is Cordura. This is a densely woven nylon fabric. It is very abrasion resistant. It flows air through the garment. It slows the rain down a little from soaking you. It's kind of like canvas, but stronger. It is much better than a jeans jacket or a hoodie/sweatshirt. Mesh or Textile jackets do a decent job of protecting the rider and they won't break the bank.

You can buy a good mesh jacket from $150.00 to $450.00. One thing to look for in the jacket would be a snap or zip-out liner. When the weather is warm, you can leave the liner at home. The textile jacket is just more tolerable when it's a hundred degrees outside or the humidity is high.

Look for zip pockets on the exterior and interior of the jackets. Not too many pockets, though. Take your time in picking out a jacket. Do some local shopping and try some jackets on. Do a lot of online research. There are men's, women's and kids styles available. You can buy jackets in all colors with graphics from mild to wild.

You want to have some padding or soft armor in the elbow/forearm area. Shoulder pad armor is essential. Most jackets come with a removable back protector. Look for soft armor with a "CE" rating. Ask your salesperson if you're at a local retailer. Usually, the more the mesh jacket weighs, the better it is.

Here's the thing about a textile jacket. It will probably only protect you ONCE. When you crash.....and you will one day. The jacket will have taken a lot of the abuse that your skin and bones would have taken. The jacket will have tears and rips in it. The jacket did it's job. You will have to buy another one.

You bought the mesh jacket because it was cooler in the summertime and it was cheaper, didn't you? My first textile jacket was a yellow and black summer jacket from Vanson Leathers. It cost me $200.00 I think. I never did crash in that one. It was kind of thin. I sold it a year later.

I bought a couple Kushitani mesh jackets awhile back when they were on sale. These are top of the line mesh jackets. I still have a green one that has been through 2 crashes with no damage. The black one was trashed when I did a little bounce and slide on Zambito Rd. Yea, I took the ambulance ride. I wasn't even speeding. I'll tell you about it another time.

Leather Jackets:

Leather motorcycle jackets are cool, aren't they? I mean they look cool. They can be downright HOT to wear in the summer heat. There are perforated leather jackets available for a very slight increase in price. You might consider buying a thermal vest to wear under that perfed leather jacket in the fall or winter.

There must be at least a dozen styles of Leather Motorcycle Jackets. You can multiply that by 2 because there are men's and women's styles. Look online to see what kind of style you like. Do you like the biker jacket? How about a Leather Vest? There's the old school police style. Or the Rock Star style. There are metro jackets, traditional jackets, short length, mid length, three quarter length and even long.

Vintage jackets are very popular now. Do you ride a Super Moto? There is a jacket for you too. It's constructed of leather and cordura.

What about Gortex?

The touring crowd loves the gortex fabric. It's waterproof, but it still breathes and flows some air. Gortex will be a little more expensive.


Horse leather was more popular in the past. It was used a lot during WWII I think. Now it's not used very much. I think there maybe a ban on making horsehide jackets in the US. You can still buy horse leather. It's more expensive. Horsehide jackets will last a very long time.


Good old cow leather. Jackets are available in many thicknesses and surface textures. Of course there is black and many beautiful shades of brown. Every other color is available too. A quality leather motorcycle jacket gets better with age. Some bike jackets take months to break in. When they are new they are very stiff. After awhile they will soften a little and mold to the shape of your body.

Zipper Quality:

When a rider buys a leather motorcycle jacket, he or she wants the jacket to last. So look for heavy brass or YKK zippers especially in the front closure of the jacket. You will see zippers in the sleeve area. There are also air vent panels opened by zippers on some models


Pay attention to the style of the collar. Does it fold up or down? Are there snaps to secure the collar? look at the stitching in the collar area. A collar that stands up too high will be uncomfortable when in the riding position. You will be buying the style of jacket that fits the type of bike you are riding. Some racing jackets don't have any collars.

Sportbike Leather Racing Jackets:

Sportbike and Racing jackets are one in the same. We call them leathers. I guess the cruiser riders do to. The sportbike jacket must fit snug. This jacket will have to broken in. The front of the jacket is noticeably shorter in length than the back. This is to allow for the position the rider is in while in the "full tuck" position. The sport jacket doesn't look like it fits right when the rider is just standing around "bench racing."

If you're fortunate enough to have the money to buy a leather racing jacket as your first, by all means do so. A good sportbike leather jacket is going to run you $450.00 to $650.00. Some Brand names you might consider would be Icon, Joe Rocket and even Alpinestars. Alpine has gear for just about every power sport.

Racing Jacket Brands:

Icon leather jackets are heavy. I tried one on at Cyclegear. That jacket must have weighed 5 lbs. at least. I found that that Icon jacket ran maybe a half size small as far as sizing. You will like the Icon designs. They are very cool.

Joe Rocket makes an excellent leather sportbike jacket. Rocket doesn't have quite the design flair as Icon does. That's just my opinion.

Alpinestars makes leathers in every price range. You can buy a good Alpine leather jacket and a professional grade Alpine leather jacket. You will see more Alpinestars gear adorning more sportbike riders than any other brand. You can look just like the pro road racers when you wear A-Stars. Their marketing department maybe as good as Harley Davidson's is. Harley sells ancient technology for top dollar. Figure that.

RS Taichi:

I'm going to pick up a 2-Piece leather track suit from Taichi, It's their GMX Motion. You can buy the perfed leather jacket and matching perfed riding pants online. it's somewhere between mid-range and high end as far as quality. It's perfect for the aggressive street rider. Hopefully I can get it on sale.

High End Sportbike Jackets:


This brand is the Ralph Lauren as far as sportbike gear. There is high quality stitching, beautiful colors and meticulous detail. The graphics are striking. Dianese has the special D-Skin leather and of course the finest Roo hide. You can figure the Dianese stuff to be just a little more expensive. One always pays a little more for that designer label, doesn't one? Dianese gear is more popular in Europe.


I would personally put vansonleathers at the very top of the heap here. We are talking Leather Jackets in this particular article and not One-Piece or 2_piece leather track suits. Vanson is a US leather maker. they've been around for at least 50 years.You can recognize a vanson jacket by the sheen of the heavy black leather. There's photo of the vansonleathers Cobra Mark 2 above.

The competition weight thick cowhide may last forever with just a little care. The sportbike line of jackets are very stiff when new. I picked up a Cobra Mark 2 about 5 years ago. I wear the Vanson when there's a mod-pace ride on. The pace is a little faster on a mod ride. I don't know what is is, but I feel safer when I'm wearing the Vanson. I'll usually be wearing some regular Wrangler jeans, the Sidi Corsa Airs and the Cobra 2. I might grab the Phantom gloves and the Arai Tommygun. Then it's off the meet spot at the 7-11 on Livingston.

Vanson doesn't change their jacket lineup very often. Their designs are classic and timeless. You won't find Vanson jackets on the rack in very many retail shops. Vanson makes most leathers to order. Plan on it taking at least 6 weeks and maybe 3 months. Call and ask.


I hoped you learned a little about what's out there when it comes to buying your first motorcycle jacket. I really just scratched the surface of this subject. There is really too much to cover in a short article. I'll be telling you a little about buying good riding boots and shoes next time. Happy jacket shopping.

Street Talk

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