Who doesn't love a motorcycle jacket? It's the very definition of style and a timeless icon of motorcycling. A riding jacket is freedom to flirt with danger while staying protected for when things go random.
Riding jackets come in many types and styles, and you'll need to weigh a whole range of factors to find your ideal style. Weather durability, safety levels, and quality of materials will all play a part in your final decision.
A motorcycle jacket is the ultimate form of upper body protection. If you want to keep your lower half safe as well then make sure to check out our guide on motorcycle pants, but for now, we'll run through everything you need to know when buying your first jacket.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN STYLES OF MOTORCYCLE JACKETS?
Biking gear has come a long way over the years. There's a huge range of jackets to choose from so you can wear something that fits both your style and individual needs. Your riding style and conditions will play a big part in the jacket style you end up with.
Motorcycle jackets are great for practical reasons, but they still need to show off your spirit and individuality. A rider should feel the energy pulsing through their veins when they throw on their gear. Everyone has their unique brand so look out for the type of jacket that reflects yours.
If you love adventure bikes and off road riding then this is for you. Whether you're heading out into the wilderness or just hitting up the local dirt track, an adventure jacket has got you covered.
A good adventure jacket is built to withstand any difficult weather and terrain you might encounter. They usually have tough internal shells that not only keep you safe but shield you from the bite of the cold. These jackets also include functional pockets to keep your valuables safe and sound while you tear them up.
Unlike most other riding jackets, adventure jackets go below your waistline because you'll be standing up most of the time you wear them. For summer you can also find jackets that include zippered vents for extra airflow.
A cruiser jacket, as the name would suggest, has a relaxed style with a heavy emphasis on comfort. They're almost exclusively black, made of leather, and very popular with people who ride V-twin motorcycles.
Cruisers tend to have a relaxed fit for maximum comfort. Many riders are drawn to the beautiful simplicity of this style, which rejects flashiness and high performance for the sake of its cruiser vibe. This style is ideal for casual riders who love a rugged look and don't mind a touch of the old school as well.
A huge drawback of cruisers is they're all show no go. Most of them don't include armor, have shoddy padding around the elbows and shoulders, and are usually made with poor-quality leather. The lack of any real protection or abrasion resistance is pretty much a recipe for disaster.
With a combination of vintage charm and slick design, this iconic jacket is a sentimental favorite for many riders. Modern cafe racers let you channel the rock 'n' roll, thrill-seeking culture of the 1950s in maximum style.
The newest cafe jackets combine old-school style with modern materials and have increased comfort and optimal protection. Genuine leather is the most abrasion-resistant material for riding gear and still the safest material to wear.
Cafe racers run a tight fit. They're initially stiff and take some time to form around your body, but lots of riders come to love the tailored fit. Leather is a somewhat divisive material - you either love it or you hate it.
The cut and style of cafe jackets sit somewhere between a cruiser and a sport jacket. They're almost always leather and come in many colors.
SPORTS AND STREET JACKETS
Street jackets, also known as sport jackets, are the epitome of modern design and technology. These jackets are super versatile and have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. They have a light, natural fit while still providing great protection.
You've got two main styles to choose from. Street stylejackets are made with textile materials and fit loose enough to slip on and off with ease. They resemble everyday jackets which are perfect if you plan to wear your gear both on and off the bike. You'll also find functional features like pockets and water resistance.
Sports style jackets come in leather and look like something you'd see in grand prix. They're almost always leather and packed with features like pre-curved arms and metal plates. This makes them awkward to stand up in and is only recommended if you plan on hitting the track.
Racing jackets are on the high end of rider protection and additional features. They're highly abrasion resistant to account for racing speeds and often include extra padding. These types of jackets have a super tight fit so they're both aerodynamic and safe.
Racing jackets are not user friendly so only go for one if you're hitting up the tracks. Pockets are minimal, if any, and the extra safety accessories make the jacket super uncomfortable once you're off the bike.
Riders are legally required to wear suitable racing gear on tracks in Australia. It's always a safe bet to check the riding requirements beforehand if you plan on going to any racetrack.
SHOULD I GET A TEXTILE OR LEATHER MOTORCYCLE JACKET?
The biggest decision a new rider has to make about their gear is wearing a leather or textile jacket. Both have their benefits, and everyone has their own taste, so this will come down to individual preferences and riding conditions.
We'll run through the main differences here, but for a more detailed analysis make sure to check out our post on leather vs textile jackets.
Textiles are hugely popular for their versatility and low-key style. Riders love being able to throw on a riding jacket that doubles as casual wear, can be worn year-round, and has a slick modern look.
Textile gear usually has a wide array of features, like a removable liner or mesh panels for increased breathability. The materials used for textiles make them lightweight and flexible without compromising abrasion resistance if they come from a quality manufacturer.
The biggest strength of textiles over leather is their ability to deal with the weather. You can find plenty of waterproof gear for winter and airflow features to keep you cool in summer.
LEATHER MOTORCYCLE JACKETS
Leather jackets appeal to motorcycle purists and lovers of all things old school. While some textiles come close, genuine leather is the strongest material for riding gear and the ultimate form of protection.
A leather motorcycle jacket feels incredibly stiff when you first put it on, but it forms around your body over time for a snug and tailored fit. Some people love leather while others can't stand it. It just depends on the rider.
Leather gear is tight and heavy, so you're toasty in winter but hot and bothered in summer. While leather technically repels rain, most jackets don't offer much in terms of water resistance and will need treatment if they get wet.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MOTORCYCLE JACKET
So maybe you've got an idea about the style you want to ride with, but there's still a way to go before you've found that perfect jacket. You'll be spending a ton of hours with your gear so it needs to be just right.
A simple truth to motorcycling is that everyone eats shit at some point. You can be a flawless rider and still find yourself on the ground because someone else wasn't paying attention, and your riding jacket needs to be up to the job when that happens.
KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLE RIDING STYLE
Think about where and when you'll be doing most of your riding. If you're a weekend adventurer then you might opt for something flashy and stylish, like a riding jacket that wouldn't look out of place in a bar.
If you commute to work, a presentable street jacket can save you some space by doubling as your work jacket, but obviously this is very situational and won't work for everyone. In any case, it's always best to find riding gear that's practical to your specific needs.
IS YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET THICK AND DURABLE?
With motorcycle jackets, you get what you pay for. Spending that extra cash might hurt now, but the road will hurt a lot more if you ride with flimsy gear. Motorcycle jackets need to be made from quality materials with a thick exterior for optimal protection.
A good riding jacket should last you at least five years. You'll get roughly 5-10 years from a textile jacket and 10-20 years from leather, but only if it's good quality. Biking jackets don't come cheap, and you don't want to find yourself buying another one after only two years.
DOES YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET HAVE HIGH VISIBILITY?
While studies have found that high-vis gear makes you 37% less likely to have an accident, most riders still don't wear it, and we get why. It ruins the whole aesthetic! Thankfully there are ways around this dilemma so you can toe the line between chaos and control.
Plenty of manufacturers make jackets with light-reflecting fabrics, but if that doesn't gel with your style you can add self-reflective adhesive strips yourself.
The easiest and most popular option is to grab a high-visibility vest that goes on top of your jacket. It's simple to put on, doesn't take up too much boot space, and lets you show off that super stylish jacket without any tacky colors killing the vibe.
DOES YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET OFFER ABRASION RESISTANCE?
Abrasion resistance is what prevents your skin from getting shredded when you fall and slide on the road. These are some of the gnarliest motorcycle injuries and can only be prevented with seriously tough gear. Here at Sa1nt we even took a box cutter to our unbreakable denim to make sure it was up to snuff.
Under EU standards, materials used for protective motorcycle clothing must have an abrasion resistance of between 4 and 7 seconds, aka how long it can withstand sliding on the ground. The slide time is usually listed in a jacket's description.
The best abrasion resistant materials are Dyneema, Kevlar, Cordura, and obviously leather.
DOES YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET OFFER IMPACT RESISTANCE?
Any good riding jacket needs to have pockets for body armor. Our joints and bones don't handle sudden impact well, and the only way for a rider to protect themselves in an accident is proper shock-absorbing armor.
Some jackets include armor woven into the fabric but most of the time it's included separately. This has its advantages because you can grab specific armor that suits your needs, and eventually swap it out if you need an upgrade. Try to buy armor from the same place you got your jacket to guarantee it's a proper fit.
Riding armor is worn in small pieces on the elbows and shoulders, and a big back protector along the spine. For motorcycle pants, there should also be armor pockets on the hips and knees.
Body armor needs to remain securely in place to work properly. If it's moving around while you ride it's a sign to tighten things up D30 Ghost Armor is a popular choice because it's light and flexible while riding but hardens on impact. The fit-and-forget design is perfect if you're concerned about carrying the extra bulk.
Motorcycle jackets are great for keeping toasty in winter, but the heavy protective materials aren't always ideal for warm weather. The best gear can be worn all year and is still breathable once summer comes around.
Plenty of riding jackets come with airflow features. Some include perforated panels, which are areas with tiny holes that allow airflow, while others have ventilation zippers in strategic areas to let air flow inside the jacket.
Textile gear is generally more breathable and the best choice for optimal airflow. The tight fit of leather isn't ideal for summer, and while some do include features to cool the rider down, there's just no getting around the natural bulk of a leather jacket.
Mesh jackets are on the high end of summer clothing. They're made with large mesh panels that maximize airflow through tiny air holes and are made to be as light as possible. Most mesh jackets have a race driver style that probably won't appeal to everyone.
What mesh delivers in airflow it pays for with poor protection. Mesh jackets are some of the least effective clothing for preventing injuries. They're also seasonal which means if you buy one you'll probably need a second jacket for winter.
HOW TO MAKE SURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET HAS THE RIGHT FIT
There's nothing like the freedom that comes from riding a motorcycle. The high speeds and open spaces are not only liberating but a satisfying break from convention.
A rider needs to feel comfortable to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of motorcycling. Their gear is their second skin and should feel comfortable while still providing the crucial protection it's there for. At Sa1nt we believe that safety should never come at the compromise of comfort or style.
THINK ABOUT STYLE & COMFORT FOR YOUR JACKET
Your jacket is there to protect you, but you'll be wearing it for hundreds of hours and it needs to feel good. A motorcycle jacket might tick all the safety boxes but for one reason or another, it's just not for you.
A good test for comfort is to get onto a bike while wearing your jacket and move into a full-tuck riding position. It should feel comfortable like this for at least one hour of non-stop riding. If this isn't the case, then it's probably best to move on.
LOOK AT THE QUALITY AND MATERIALS OF THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET
Good motorcycle jackets come from good quality materials. It's always a good idea to check the fabric of the jacket, which not only indicates its strength but often its comfort.
Sa1nt uses Dyneema fiber to line our denim gear for its insane strength-to-weight ratio. We rate Dyneema because it's tough enough to make bullet-proof armor without the bulk of similar fabrics.
The strength and quality of a motorcycle jacket depend on the manufacturer. The best gear has a strong lining that won't burst on impact and shouldn't have zips in exposed areas of the body like the outer sides of the arms.
A jacket's outer shell should have minimal features like fasteners or studs which can penetrate on impact. Keep it nice and simple.
HOW TIGHT ARE MOTORCYCLE JACKETS SUPPOSED TO BE WORN?
Like most riding gear a motorcycle jacket is properly worn with a tight fit. Motorcycle clothing is ineffective if worn loose and severely reduces impact and abrasion resistance.
Fitting a motorcycle jacket is a balancing act. You want it nice and snug for protection but not so tight that it feels uncomfortable and restricts blood flow. A jacket that's too tight can even be dangerous because of how distracting it can be. A proper fitting jacket is snug but doesn't compromise your movement.
The sizing of motorcycle jackets is usually the same as normal jackets, but it's always a good idea to double-check the size chart of any place you buy from.
HOW IS A LEATHER MOTORCYCLE JACKET MEANT TO FIT?
A leather jacket runs an especially tight fit. Leather forms around your body over time so it will feel incredibly stiff at first, but eventually becomes a snug, tailored fit. Keep in mind that leather also stretches and loosens with use.
Leather jackets fit a lot shorter than other motorcycle jackets. It should sit at about belt level because any excess fabric not only hinders movement but compromises your safety. Like any riding jacket, it should be a snug fit but still give you a nice range of motion.
THE PRICE OF THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET
When buying your first jacket it can be hard to know where the sweet spot is between too cheap and absurdly expensive. It doesn't help that riding jackets can range from anywhere to fifty bucks to thousands of dollars.
Motorcycle jackets aren't cheap so try to find something that can be worn throughout the entire year. Buying a different jacket for every season will break the bank pretty quickly.
The thing with motorcycle jackets is you get what you pay for. The best materials like Dyneema and leather won't come cheap, but they could make the ultimate difference when things turn sideways on the road. Check out our crash stories if you need the proof.
Jackets made from textile and synthetic materials usually come at a lower price, with leather being the most expensive material. However, leather lasts a lot longer than anything else, which can justify spending the extra cash.
When buying motorcycle clothing it's important to have a long-term mindset. Saving some cash on a cheap jacket might feel good right now, but you might find yourself needing a replacement in only a year, which kind of defeats the purpose.
If you want a nice clear dollar figure, expect to spend somewhere between $500-$800 on your first motorcycle jacket.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A WATERPROOF JACKET:
While there's no such thing as a 100% waterproof jacket, your riding gear needs to offer some form of protection against the elements. Motorcycles don't have the luxury of a roof or windows to keep you warm and your gear will have to bear that load.
WHAT ARE THE WEATHER CONDITIONS LIKE WHERE YOU'LL BE RIDING?
Think about the weather in your area. Will rain and wind be a constant problem or just the occasional hassle? Everyone hates getting caught in the rain and that wet, soggy feeling can sometimes dampen your entire day.
HOW MUCH WATER RESISTANCE DOES EACH MATERIAL OFFER?
Textiles are the go-to in terms of weather protection. They're not all water-resistant, but plenty have features like a waterproof outer shell or waterproof removable liners. Some even include removable thermal liners to keep you extra toasty.
A motorcycle jacket doesn't have to be strictly traditional to keep you warm and protected. An Armored Puffer Jacket has all the protection of a normal jacket but lets you rock the traditional puffer look which goes with just about anything.
Textile motorcycle clothing has a massive range, and the level of rain protection will vary depending on where you shop. Brands like gore tex specialize in wind and rain protection, while some websites don't carry any wet weather clothing at all.
LEATHER MOTORCYCLE JACKETS
Leather is one of the weaker options when it comes to fighting the weather, but it's not exactly useless. While leather isn't resistant to water it does technically repel the rain. The catch is that your leather jacket will need to be dried out and treated if it gets wet.
The tight fit of leather is great for shielding riders from the harsh bite of the wind. You'll be kicking up some serious wind resistance when you fly down those open roads and feeling nicely insulated.
WATER RESISTANT ANORAKS
So what if you've got your eye on a sweet motorcycle jacket but it doesn't meet your weather requirements. A Water Resistant Anorak is a good workaround that lets you stick with your preferred style and keep dry at the same time.
An anorak can be thrown over the top of any jacket as an additional layer. It's conveniently lightweight and storable and doubles as an everyday raincoat.
Finding the perfect motorcycle jacket is an important choice that takes a lot of consideration. Riders need gear that not only keeps them protected but reflects their daring, unbreakable spirit and feel comfortable during those long rides.
Motorcycling is about finding the balance between chaos and control. At Sa1nt we strive to make gear that gives riders the freedom to express themselves without compromising safety.
Our innovative, space-age denim has taken the motorcycling world by storm in recent years. The denim Unbreakable Jacket is a hugely popular choice with riders because it combines the everyday look of street clothes with the gritty toughness of motorcycle gear.
We offer 30-day returns to make sure our customers love the gear they ride with.
WHY CAN'T I WEAR STREET CLOTHES INSTEAD OF MOTORCYCLE GEAR?
You've probably seen plenty of bikers wearing everyday street jackets, a t-shirt, or even going shirtless. The reality is that anytime someone jumps on a bike without the right clothing they're playing Russian roulette with their bodies.
According to the TAC, a highly rated motorcycle jacket protects you for 2.37 seconds in a crash at 60km/h. Compare this to a casual hoodie that lasts just 0.03 seconds before it bursts open and exposes your skin.
WILL A LEATHER JACKET PROTECT YOU ON A MOTORCYCLE?
Textile gear has seen an astronomical rise in the last few years, but leather is still the king of rider protection. Leather remains unmatched in terms of abrasion resistance, although fabrics like Dyneema give it a run for its money.
The price of this extra protection is more weight and less flexibility. Some riders love the feel of leather while others can't stand it. To each their own.
WHY DO BIKERS WEAR LEATHER JACKETS?
The appeal of a leather jacket has to be its combination of classic charm and simple, no-nonsense grit. Who wouldn't want to channel the badass energy of a James Dean, Marlon Brando, or even the Hells Angels?
Leather jackets have the longest lifespan out of any other material. With the right care and maintenance, you can expect 10-20 years out of it, and some might even last a lifetime. Leather comes with a heavier price tag but pays itself off as a long-term investment.
WHICH JACKET IS BEST FOR RIDING?
Every rider has their individual style and criteria for a jacket. The best motorcycle jacket is one that feels comfortable, keeps you protected, fits your riding conditions, and still looks great.
Bikers with a taste for the old school might lean towards a Black Leather Jacket, while others will gravitate towards denim for a more low-key look. An armored puffer or even a denim vest might even be your thing. That's the beauty of motorcycle clothing - there's so much out there.
WHAT IF I LIKE A JACKET BUT IT DOESN'T HAVE ARMOR POCKETS?
So you've come across a really cool-looking jacket that looks like it's popped out of your dreams and onto the shelf. It's nearly perfect, except for the fact there's no armor pockets to speak of.
Unfortunately, that jacket is absolutely useless. Without the shock absorption of body armor, a motorcycle jacket is functioning at about 50% capacity.
HOW THICK SHOULD THE LEATHER BE ON A MOTORCYCLE JACKET?
Leather is the top dog of protective materials, but it needs to meet the right criteria to provide quality protection. A leather jacket needs to be at least 1.2 mm thick to properly protect a rider.
Leather needs to meet a minimum thickness to cushion any hard landings on the road. The impact absorption of tight, thick leather has allowed many riders to walk away unscathed from crashes that could have gone very differently with the wrong gear.
HOW CAN YOU TELL QUALITY LEATHER FROM THE FAKE STUFF?
Be on the lookout for any low-quality knockoff or imitation leather. Only a genuine leatherjacket has the toughness needed to keep you in one piece. A biker wearing fake leather might as well be riding shirtless.
The product description should tell you everything you need to know. If a jacket is listed as full-grain leather, top-grain leather, cowhide, or sheep leather then it's the real deal. Anything listed as faux leather or genuine leather, which is in fact not genuine, is a sign to run for the hills.
ARE MOTORCYCLE JACKETS MADE FOR WOMEN?
Sa1nt is proud to armor the ladies who like to live on the edge. Our Women's Unbreakable Jacket is made from classic denim and includes both removable shearling collars and armor pockets.
DO I REALLY NEED A MOTORCYCLE JACKET?
Motorcycle helmets are the single most important piece of protective gear, and jackets are right behind them.
Think about your upper body, from the shoulders down to your waist, and how many parts are there. Arms, chest, spine, and even internal organs are all exposed without the protection of a genuine motorcycle jacket.
Motorcycling is the ultimate rush. It's an outlet for wild, unchained energy that's strictly reserved for the risk-takers of the world. The best riders are those who can master the chaos and control their destiny by gearing themselves up.