Best motorcycle jackets for a stylish ride

Best motorcycle jackets for a stylish ride

Show us a biker who isn’t style conscious and we’ll show you a liar. Looking good is a big part of riding motorcycles and your choice of jacket – and indeed helmet, gloves, jeans and boots – is equally as important as buying the right bike.

But choosing a jacket is a decision laced with compromise: the style, material, technical features and level of protection you want from a jacket can wildly affect what you end up buying. Some jackets look great but aren’t going to help when you’re caught out in a shower; some jackets leave looks to be desired but will keep you infinitely warm and dry for miles and miles.

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Oh, and any quality jacket will come with armour to protect you should you and your machine take a tumble. Most good jackets will allow you to insert back armour to protect your spine and coccyx, but few come with this back armour included.

As a result, most bikers end up with a jacket for every season and sometimes every type of bike in the garage too. Here’s our guide to the three types of motorcycle jacket and our pick of the best.

1. Leather jackets

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The staple of your motorcycle wardrobe: the leather jacket. You’ll probably start out here, but the question quickly becomes “cowhide or kangaroo?”.

Cowhide’s the standard choice, but some jacket manufacturers also offer kangaroo as an option. Why? Kangaroo’s lighter, while still offering the same abrasion resistance as cowhide, so you usually find this option on the jackets for superbikes. Although leather isn’t waterproof, it does offer the best protection.

In summary: stylish, cool, the one you want to crash in, but only any good on a warm, dry summer’s day.

2. Textile jackets

Arguably the do-it-all jackets for almost any riding occasion or bike. The only trouble is, textile jackets don’t look nearly as cool as their leather siblings.

Textile jackets also won’t protect you quite as well if you do end up sliding down the road. But by sacrificing a little abrasion resistance, you generally gain waterproofing, more pockets and the ability to add or remove a thermal lining to regulate your temperature.

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You should know: waterproofing isn’t a binary state. Bad waterproofing is a bit of a “boil in the bag” experience, where your own perspiration can’t escape. Good waterproofing is breathable, so look out for GoreTex and other high-end alternatives such as Alpinestars “Drystar” or Dainese “D-Dry”.

3. Airbag jackets

Airbag jackets? Yes, they’re a thing and the technology comes directly from the world of motorcycle racing. You should consider one if you regularly ride fast or on track, or if you simply must have the best protection, because it’s the only way to go above and beyond the protection that leather and armour can offer.

Airbag jackets work by actively monitoring your riding via sensors and inflating inbuilt airbags in a matter of milliseconds. The downside? Your jacket will be more expensive, slightly heavier and will require servicing should you set the airbag off. High maintenance, but you won’t get better – just ask the MotoGP racers.

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