man wearing motorcycle gear riding bike on dirt a road

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A MOTORCYCLE JACKET: 6 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

A rider's jacket is their second skin. It's a bold statement to the world that you live fast and you're not afraid to stare danger in the eye. Here at Sa1nt we love to armor the risk-takers of the world and believe that safety should never come at the cost of style.

With so many options out there it might seem impossible to find your perfect jacket, so we've put together a guide to make that choice a little bit easier. Your riding jacket will be the slickest piece of clothing in your wardrobe after all and should be chosen carefully.

HOW DO I CHOOSE A MOTORCYCLE JACKET?

If you're completely in the wilderness when it comes to motorcycle jackets, a good starting point is deciding if you want to go with leather or textile. You can read more in our article on leather vs textile jackets, but for now, we'll go through the basics.

Leather jackets are a classic, old-school style that many riders still love. Nothing makes you feel more invincible than throwing on a leather motorcycle jacket and tearing down the road at eye-watering speeds.

The biggest strength of leather jackets is their strength. Leather is still the number one material when it comes to abrasion resistance, in spite of huge developments in textile gear. Many riders also love how leather forms over your body shape for a snug, tailored fit.

Textile jackets are great in terms of versatility. You'll have plenty of choices when it comes to the different types of cuts and fabrics available. If you're looking for slick, modern design then this is the way to go.

Riders gravitate towards textile jackets because of their insane range. You want a denim jacket? Check. How about a denim vest? No problem. You can even wear an Armored Puffer Jacket while your ride. The list goes on.

CONSIDER THESE 6 THINGS BEFORE BUYING A MOTORCYCLE JACKET

IS THE JACKET THE PERFECT FIT?

You want to get this one right. There's nothing worse than investing money in a great motorcycle jacket only to find that it feels uncomfortable after the first week. Arm yourself with some knowledge before you test out that brand-new jacket.

HOW SHOULD MOTORCYCLE JACKETS FIT?

You want to get this one right. There's nothing worse than investing money in a great motorcycle jacket only to find that it feels uncomfortable after the first week. Arm yourself with some knowledge before you test out that brand-new jacket.

HOW SHOULD MOTORCYCLE JACKETS FIT?

A motorcycle jacket needs to be a tight fit, but not so tight that you feel suffocated. The perfect jacket size will feel snug around your skin but still allow natural freedom of movement. Leather motorcycle jackets have an especially snug fit because they form around your body over time, but plenty of riders love that. If you're looking for a looser jacket fit, then go for something in textile.

Here's a pro tip when looking for a jacket that fits. Get yourself into a full tuck riding position while you're wearing the jacket and determine if you'd feel comfortable like that for one hour of non-stop riding. If not, that jacket size isn't for you, my friend.

It's hard to know whether your new motorcycle jacket is the right one, so be 100% sure before you fully commit. Try to find a motorcycle shop that offers 30-day returns.

ARE MOTORCYCLE JACKETS SUPPOSED TO BE TIGHT?

Yep, you want that thing fitting nice and snug. Whether you're rocking an old-school leather jacket or you're partial to textile jackets, keep it tight. Riding jackets can't do their job, which is to protect you from sudden impact if they're worn loose.

HOW FAR DOWN SHOULD A MOTORCYCLE JACKET GO?

Motorcycle jackets are worn shorter than a normal jacket, which will probably take some getting used to. Sitting down with a long-fitting jacket creates excess fabric that not only hinders movement but compromises your safety.

Your motorcycle jacket should sit right along your belt line when you stand, and rest on your thighs while in a riding position.

WHAT ABOUT WAIST MEASUREMENT AND ARM LENGTHS FOR BIKER JACKETS?

You don't have to know your exact measurements, but it certainly won't hurt. For more accurate results try to use a soft tape measure (as in the kind that wraps around your body).

The sleeve length should come to your wrist while on the bike, and about the middle of your palm when you stand up.

To take your arm measurements, stand up and measure from the base of your neck to your wrist from the side of your body. Just keep in mind that if you're going with a race fit it has shorter sleeves because it's worn with long gauntlet gloves.

To get your waist measurements, measure around the waist where you would usually fit your belt, slightly below your belly button.

WHAT SIZE BIKER JACKET SHOULD I GET?

Motorcycle jackets are sized in two ways, numerical and alpha sizing. They're both similar to the way ordinary clothes are fitted so you shouldn't have a problem.

Alpha sizing is your small, medium, large etc. Most American shops stick to this method because it's nice and simple. Your riding jacket size should probably correspond to your everyday clothing size which makes online ordering a lot easier, but definitely double-check a website's measurements before you buy.

Numerical sizing uses numbers instead (52,54,56). It's less common but you'll probably encounter it at some point. Just make sure to use the size chart from the exact website that you're buying a jacket from, because they can vary in some cases.

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET SIZE

Finding your jacket measurements is a piece of cake. All you need is a friend who's willing to help and a piece of measuring tape. All you need are three measurements.

motorcycle jacket chest measurement

First, get your buddy to measure around your chest and back. Try to breathe normally, because deep breaths will affect the accuracy of the measurement. And don't worry about compensating for the back protector, they usually have a minimal affect on sizing.

motorcycle jacket arm measurement

Next comes the arms. There actually two ways of measuring your arms, depending on the manufacturer. Take a look at the size chart on the website you're buying from. Are the arm measurements in the 20-inch range or 30-inch range?

For 20-inch range, measure from the shoulder, past the elbows and end at the wrist. For 30-inch range, your arm measurement should start from your spine at the base of your neck instead. Remember that some racing jackets are designed to be worn with long gauntlet gloves, so they might seem a bit short on the sleeves compared to street jackets.

motorcycle jacket waist measurement

Lastly, measure your waist by having your friend run the tape around your stomach, about an inch above your belly button. Remember, your waist measurement is NOT the same as your pants size. Your waist size is the least important of these measurements because they can vary, and many jackets have some level of adjustability around the waist.

motorcycle jacket neck measurement

If a website also mentions neck sizing, just place the measuring tape around your neck at the height where the collar would normally rest.

IS YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET TESTED FOR SAFETY?

The point of a motorcycle jacket is to give you protection, so you want to be damn sure it's up to scratch. Wearing the right motorcycle gear can be the difference between a legendary escape or a gnarly injury.

WHAT IS THE PROPER LEATHER JACKET THICKNESS?

Leather is the top dog when it comes to rider protection. Leather jackets not only have classic charm, but the best abrasion resistance and impact protection you can ask for in a motorcycle jacket.

A quality leather motorcycle jacket will be at least 1.2 mm thick for maximum protection. This cushions the impact of a hard landing on the road, and hopefully saves some bones as well.

Watch out for any low-quality knockoffs or imitations. Only a genuine leather jacket has the toughness needed to keep you in one piece. Anyone riding with fake leather might as well be riding shirtless.

Sa1nt's Black Leather Jacket is a classic combination of old-school charm and unbeatable toughness.

DO YOU NEED BODY ARMOR UNDER YOUR MOTORCYCLE JACKET?

A rider should never go without their body armor. Even a quick ride to the shops can be life-altering if you forego this crucial piece of gear.

A motorcycle jacket should include armor pockets in the elbows and shoulders, and room to slip in a back protector as well. These are the most sensitive parts of the upper body and don't handle sudden collisions very well.

Some jackets come with armor woven into the material, but most have armor pockets instead. There are actually some benefits to choosing your own armor. You can choose whatever brand suits you best, and eventually swap it out if you feel the need for an upgrade.

Body armor needs to fit tight, or it won't be able to do its job. A good way to make sure it will fit properly is to buy it from the same place as your jacket. Get yourself into a full tuck riding position to emulate how it will feel once you're on the road.

Good armor is light enough to not bother you while you ride, but strong enough to be able to take some damage. D30 is a popular choice with riders because it's soft and flexible while you wear it but hardens on impact.

You can read more in our extensive guide on buying motorcycle armor.

WHAT SAFETY RATINGS EXIST FOR MOTORCYCLE JACKETS?

Most places that sell riding gear list the safety specs of their jackets on their website. A key thing to look out for is slide time, which is the number of seconds your jacket will buy you before your skin starts to eat the pavement.

You'll see that many jackets have a CE rating. These are formatted as a fairly intimidating number system that looks like this: CE EN17092-5:2020 Class “B” certified garment

Here's the good news. You won't need to decipher all of that. The only thing you need to worry about is the year, which is 2020 in the above example, which shows when the product was tested. The other is the CE rating, which is those two words at the end.

Here's how it works.

  • CE TESTED- The manufacturer tested the gear in their own facility, but not in a certified testing facility.

  • CE CERTIFIED - Samples of the gear were tested in certified testing facilities

  • CE APPROVED - Many parts of the gear were tested in facilities and meet or surpass the required standards

WHAT STYLE OF JACKET DO YOU LIKE THE LOOK OF?

A motorcycle jacket should be an expression of your unique brand and personality. It's the ultimate fashion piece that gives you that extra swagger in your step and shows off the bold, unbreakable spirit of riders everywhere.

A motorcycle jacket should be an expression of your unique brand and personality. It's the ultimate fashion piece that gives you that extra swagger in your step and shows off the bold, unbreakable spirit of riders everywhere.

Only you can say what your style is. A leather jacket is perfect for those who love a vintage flair and want to channel that badass biker energy. Textile jackets are great for the variety they offer, but there's a lot to choose from so it's best to read up on the various designs.

Denim riding jackets are great because they double as casual wear. We all love to flaunt our gear, but maybe you want to go 'undercover' and avoid the biker aesthetic. Our Unbreakable Denim looks just like an everyday jacket while still being seriously tough.

CHECK YOUR JACKET IS MADE FROM GOOD QUALITY MATERIALS

A motorcycle jacket can only protect you if it's made with quality materials. Investing in proper gear not only keeps your skin and bones safe but means your clothes will last a lot longer too.

Kevlar, Cordura and Dyneema are the most popular synthetic materials for textile gear. Kevlar has a solid strength ratio that makes it great for impact protection, while Cordura offers less weight and extra comfort.

We've gone with Dyneema to line our denim gear. It's newer, stronger, and lighter than its competitors and taking the motorcycling world by storm. Manufacturers all over the world are flocking to Dyneema to build their riding gear.

LOOK AT THE PRICE OF THE BIKE JACKET

Motorcycle jackets can range in price from about fifty bucks to $2400. If you're reading this article then you're probably buying your first jacket, and it's hard to know where the sweet spot is.

The thing with motorcycle jackets is you get what you pay for. A nice leather jacket or the newest textile gear won't come cheap, but it's worth the investment. You'll be spending hundreds of hours wearing your gear, so you'll want it to feel good.

A motorcycle jacket is a long-term investment. You should get 5-10 years out of a textile jacket and up to 20 years from a leather motorcycle jacket, but only if it's made from good quality material. The cheaper the gear the sooner you'll find yourself buying a replacement.

CAN THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET SURVIVE TOUGH WEATHER?

Weather conditions are a reality of riding that we all have to deal with. You don't have the luxury of a roof, heater or air conditioning, so your gear will have to do the job of all three. Wearing the right clothes could save you a lot of grief when you're out riding and the weather turns on you.

HOW DOES THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET HANDLE RAIN AND WIND

Getting caught in the rain always sucks. The good news is that plenty of riding jackets are water-resistant, so you can ride in winter storms with no worries.

Textile jackets are generally the way to go in terms of rain protection. Many of them offer water resistance or even a removable thermal liner to keep you feeling nice and toasty.

While leather jackets do repel water, most don't include any kind of water resistance. The tight fit will shield you from the chill of the wind, but leather doesn't do well when faced with water. If your leather jacket does get wet, you'll need to dry it out for a couple of days.

So what if you've got your eye on the perfect motorcycle jacket but it's not water-resistant? You can always throw an Anorak over the top of a jacket to compensate. Your first jacket should be multi-seasonal anyway, so this is a great workaround.

HOW DOES THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET HANDLE HOT WEATHER

Be mindful, wearing the wrong jacket can turn a sunny day of riding into a sweaty ordeal.

Textile jackets are generally light and have good airflow which makes them ideal for summer. The increased breathability is perfect if you plan to hop off the bike and keep your riding gear on.

Some riders wear mesh jackets in summer for even more airflow. The mesh panels included will certainly cool you down, but these jackets have their limitations. They're strictly seasonal so you won't get much use out of your mesh jacket in winter, and they offer less protection than most other textile gear.

Conclusion

The motorcycle jacket is one of the most important decisions that a biker will make. As we've established it's so much more than a piece of clothing. It's your second skin and your partner in arms whenever you ride. It's your own personal statement that you make every time you jump on the bike.

Here at SA1NT we thought it sucked that riders had to decide between looking good and feeling protected for so long. That's why we've committed to gearing up the risk-takers of the world with comfortable, high-end riding gear that looks good without skimping on safety. Check out our awesome range of biker jackets today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I look for in a motorcycle jacket?

There are several important things to look for in a motorcycle jacket. When you're shopping, don't think of it as a piece of clothing, because it's not. It's a second skin, and will automatically become the favourite item in your wardrobe.

The most obvious thing a jacket should be doing is keeping you protected. Check the protection rating of a jacket and see what material it's made out of. Fabrics made of Dyneema, Kevlar, Leather and Cordura are strong enough to keep you protected when things go random.

Feel how comfortable and breathable the jacket is. You'll be wearing the crap out of it after all, so ask yourself if you'd be happy wearing a jacket for hours on end. It should feel snug without being too tight, and without restricting your movements at all.

Lastly, the jacket should scream you. A biker jacket might tick all the boxes, but for one reason or another you're just not feeling it. And that's absolutely fine. Biker clothing should reflect your personality and style, otherwise where's the fun in wearing it all?

What type of jacket is best for motorcycle riding?

There are several types of jackets that are best for motorcycle riding. Leather jackets are the classic option and offer great rider protection, but it's not for everyone. Some people love the feel of leather while others prefer a textile alternative.

Textile jackets made from a protective material like Dyneema or Kevlar have become extremely popular because they look and feel like everyday clothing. They're super comfortable and generally breathable, and still offer great protection if you shop with a good brand.

Mesh jackets are lined with mesh panels that make them highly breathable, which is ideal for hot weather riding. The catch is that mesh jackets tend to offer less protection than leather and textile jackets, and they're not suitable to wear year-round.

How do I choose a biker jacket?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a biker jacket. Consider how comfortable and breathable a jacket feels when trying it on. You should be happy enough with the style that it feels completely natural to wear wherever you go.

Don't forget about the jackets protection level either. Any biker jacket should have a protection rating so you can see exactly what kind of safety you'll be getting. A jacket should be made of a tough material like leather, Dyneema or Kevlar so your body will be protected when shit hits the fan.

What material should a motorcycle jacket be?

The best materials that a motorcycle jacket should be made of are leather, Kevlar, Dyneema and Cordura.

Leather is known for being an extremely tough material and it's a classic, but the style isn't everyone's cup of tea. Dyneema is a relatively new fabric that's taken the riding world by storm. It's 30 times stronger than steel but still light enough to float on water, so you get the best of comfort and protection all in one package.

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