A motorcycle jacket serves an important function and that is to protect its wearer in the event of a crash. Much of what a cyclist should look for is focused on safety, but there are also considerations for comfort such such as material, style and sizing. Because a jacket could save a rider from serious injury or even death and there are numerous options to choose from now, buying a motorcycle jacket is not an easy buying decision. Here are a few tips to start your buying process:
Tip 1: Know Your Ride Style
The first question you will need to decide is between a one piece suit or a separate jacket and pants and this will be determined largely by your ride style. Are you planning on riding fast and aggressive or just taking the bike out for an afternoon cruise? A full piece suit is less convenient if you need to look professional off your bike, but it can offer superior protection.
Tip 2: Select for Quality and Function
The next big choice is between leather and fabrics. Leather should be at least 1.4 millimeters to offer and in general, high grade leather offers superior skid protection over fabrics. Not all leather is the same and you are looking for motorcycle-grade leather, not the light material available in other parts of the store. Keep an eye out for combinations of leather and fabric that use Kevlar or other super-threads that will resist tearing. Armacor, Kevlar, Dynatec and high-strength Cordura are all options as well.
With an eye towards stitching, make sure that the seams are on the inside, than flaps cover pockets and that zippers are strong and covered by flaps to prevent injury in a crash. A valuable tip is to look for leather jackets with fewer seams because each seam is another point of weakness in the jacket that can fail in the event of a crash.
Tip 3: Choose a Visible Color
Some countries mandate reflective vests for all motorcyclists but if your area has no such restriction, then look for colors than can be seen in low light. Motorcycle accidents are often caused by careless car or truck drivers that drive into motorcyclists without noticing. A stylish black or brown jacket increases the chances of such an accident while a bright orange or other high-visibility color can help you to stand out in poor visibility conditions on the road. If you do decide on a classic black jacket, consider adding reflective strips that while detracting from your overall look, will help other motorists to spot you on the road.
Tip 4: Padding and Skid Shields
A good motorcycle jacket will have extra protection in vulnerable areas of your body and areas most likely to make contact with the road surface in a crash. For a larger jacket, these may be inside the jacket but on a tighter model, you will find these outside. Look for a CE approval rating to test whether the jacket has been certified for crash resistance. A CE1 is a god level of protection but a CE2 is better. The bottom line is that more protection is always good.
Check to make sure that the skid and impact protection pads cover key areas of your body on the arms, back and check and that your elbows, especially the ulna bone, are well protected. You will be thankful for this layer of protection if you need it someday.
Tip 5: Select for Comfort
A motorcycle jacket should be comfortable to wear, since you may be in it for extended periods of time as you ride. It is also important that it fit comfortably to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer as well as fitting well in the event of an accident.
Leather jackets are perfect for fall and spring riding at temperatures between the mid 50s to the high 70s. Below this, and the leather likely won’t offer enough protection against the cold. Above this, and the lack of breathability in the leather will become apparent. So select your material, a breathable fabric or a tough leather, based on the weather you will be riding in. Look for removable linings that can add insulation, block wind and allow you to lighten up on hot days.
Tip 6: Look for Water Treated Leather
Riding with an untreated leather jacket in the rain will cause the leather to soak up a crushing amount of water. You will soon be weighted down with a wet jacket that is difficult to dry. So look for leather treated with a water resistant membrane to let the rain slide off. The textile jackets available today can be treated to provide a very high level of water resistance to the point that evaporating water can have a significant cooling effect, an important detail to keep in mind if riding in a cool rain.