There's so much to love about summer riding. Whether it's a day trip to the beach or just a cruisy ride in the sun, there's something for just about everyone.
A major issue for bikers is finding a summer jacket that keeps you cool, has great protection, and of course doesn't cramp your style. This can be a difficult balance to achieve so we've put together a guide on the best gear to throw on once the weather heats up.
A rider's jacket is their most sacred piece of clothing and a decision that can't be rushed. The fit, weight, material, and a whole lot else will need to be factored in so you can find the perfect summer jacket to have your back out there on the road.
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF IT'S A GOOD SUMMER MOTORCYCLE JACKET?
1) IF THE JACKET IS MADE OF THE BEST MATERIALS
The quality of a jacket often depends on the material it's made from. This can affect the jacket's weight, comfort, and protection levels.
Some jackets might be great for winter but a nightmare in warm weather, so it's important to strike that balance if you don't plan on buying multiple jackets.
Textiles are made from three main materials: Kevlar, Cordura, and Dyneema.
Kevlar dominated motorcycle jackets for years before the appearance of more modern, high-tech fibers. It has a solid strength ratio and is highly resistant to heat, but Kevlar is the heaviest of the main textile fibers.
Cordura is made to be cheap, light, and breathable. It's popular on racetracks because of its high breathability, but the trade-off is a drop in protection. Cordura is the least abrasion resistant out of the three.
Dyneema is a modern, space-age fiber that combines the strength of Kevlar with the lightness of Cordura. It's used to make bullet-proof vests, helicopter armor, and even line space shuttles! Despite its strength, Dyneema is light enough to float on water and has a cooling effect for hot weather riding.
At Sa1nt we're true believers in the power of Dyneema, and we've used it to line our range of denim jackets and motorcycle jeans.
Leather's biggest strength is its high level of protection. While some textiles come close, leather is still the toughest material for motorcycle gear.
The obvious drawback of leather is the weight. It's a heavy material, and a leather jacket is designed to be worn very tight. In the middle of summer, this is going to cause you some issues. Leather gear also tends to have minimal airflow or ventilation.
Some riders stick with their leathers through rain or shine. If you're dedicated to the old school look and can't ride in anything else, then follow your heart. Just prepare to pay the price...
2) IT HAS SAFETY FEATURES: PROTECTION AND ARMOR
Motorcycling is an endless struggle between chaos and control. We all want the freedom to rip loose on the road but the protection to back it up if things go random. It's important to remember that even on the hottest days your gear is there to protect you.
Check out the protection level of a jacket you're interested in. As stated above the jacket's material is important, as is the level of abrasion resistance. This might be listed as 'slide time', which is literally how long the jacket can slide on the ground before it bursts open.
Some websites will list the CE level of their jackets, which is an international rating conforming to European safety standards. A riding jacket that's fully CE certified will have a rating of either B, A, AA, and AAA. Here's a quick rundown:
B - Suitable for urban riding but without impact protectors
A- Suitable for urban riding but with impact protectors
AA - Can be used as touring gear
AAA- The highest level of protection
Any respectable jacket needs to be equipped with armor pockets in key impact areas, which are the back, shoulders, and elbows. These are the precious parts of your upper body that need maximum protection against any sudden force.
Motorcycle armor comes in small pieces that slip onto your shoulders and elbows, and a larger back protector along your spine. While shoulder pads and elbow pads are available, we don't recommend wearing anything that doesn't have a CE rating.
3) THE MOTORCYCLE JACKET ALLOWS AIR FLOW TO KEEP YOU COOL
A jacket's airflow will determine how breathable it feels during hot rides. This will largely boil down to the materials used to make it but can be boosted by certain features and accessories.
Some riding jackets include things like ventilation zippers, which can be left open or closed depending on the weather. They might also have perforated panels in strategically placed areas.
You'll want to find a nice middle ground between comfort and protection. If your gear is too breathable then it's probably flimsy, but clothing that lacks airflow will cook you on a hot day.
Some riders ditch their jackets entirely and rock a Riding Vest over the summer. People don't just wear these for the classic rebel style, they're a great alternative for staying cool and comfortable under the sun's rays.
In terms of safety, they're five times tougher than a standard denim vest and provide great protection when paired with a couple of elbow protectors. Riding vests come in both black and blue so you can stick to your preferred style.
A mesh jacket is made with panels that increase breathability and airflow. Mesh fabric is filled with tons of tiny holes that allow air to flow through and keep riders cool. This is great for short rides, but eventually, the hot air on your skin will start to dehydrate you.
Mesh jackets are thought of as the quintessential warm weather motorcycle jackets, but their cooling benefits come at the cost of protection. Any kind of air jacket won't have the same thick padding as Dyneema or leather, which can mean bad news if things take a nasty turn on the road.
4) WELL-FITTED MOTO JACKETS: FIT, WEIGHT, AND ADJUSTABILITY
A rider's gear should feel like their second skin. The best summer motorcycle jackets will give you the freedom and comfort to immerse yourself in the ride without causing any issues.
Your jacket needs to fit nice and snug without compromising movement. A good comfort test is to sit on your bike with your jacket on and get into a full tuck riding position. You should be able to sit like this for at least one hour of non-stop riding.
The jacket's weight will mostly depend on its material. You'll know almost straight away if it feels too heavy. Leather is obviously the heaviest type while textiles are generally more lightweight, with varying weights depending on their material.
A good summer jacket needs to be adjustable for maximum comfort. If it has any warm weather features like a fur collar or thermal lining then that needs to be removable. A removable waterproof liner might also come in handy for those unexpected summer showers.
On a hot day the slightest discomfort feels way worse than normal, so look for a jacket where the cuffs can be undone and the waist loosened. In the thick of summer, these small features will feel like a godsend.
For years, riders had to choose between comfort and protection. Thankfully we've moved on from the dark ages and there's a ton of variety for motorcycle gear. You won't have to compromise your style to stay cool, comfy, and protected.
The latest space-age denim has a cool touch when infused with Dyneema, and comes in a variety of colors to accommodate every rider's individuality. Check out the range of motorcycle jackets and vests to see what's on offer.
WHICH RIDING JACKET IS BEST FOR SUMMER?
Factoring in overall protection, quality, style and hot weather resistance, the Unbreakable Jacket in black denim is our pick for the best summer motorcycle jacket.
The combination of everyday style with its insane protection is already impressive, but the lightweight fabric and design is what truly puts the Unbreakable Jacket above the competition.
Materials: The Dyneema-enhanced denim has a cooling effect that riders immediately notice on their skin. This jacket is made to take a hit, with 5.9 seconds of slide time and a Class AA certified protection rating.
Features: The Unbreakable Jacket is made to be worn year round, so you can rock it no matter what season you're in. It has a faux fur collar for hot weather that can be removed once it heats up, and the cuffs can be loosened for additional heat relief.
Size and Fit: The sizes range from small all the way to XXL, so there shouldn't be any issues finding the right fit. Check the size guide on the product page before committing to a fit.
Yes, you should wear a motorcycle jacket in summer. It sounds cliché, but riding without gear really is like driving a car without side doors, a bonnet, or a seatbelt. According to the TAC, in a crash at 60km/h your joints have 2.37 seconds of protection with a proper motorcycle jacket, compared to just 0.03 seconds with a casual hoodie.
On the hottest days, this can still be a tough pill to swallow, but you'll just have to ask yourself: do I want to sweat or do I want to bleed?
DO MOTORCYCLE JACKETS KEEP YOU COOL?
Yes, motorcycle jackets can keep you cool, but it's dependent on the material of the jacket in question. The material and design of a motorcycle jacket will determine how well it deals with heat. A heavy leather jacket will leave you feeling hot and bothered, while clothes made with Dyneema have a cooling effect.
Extra features like ventilation zippers and mesh panels will also affect your ride. There are a ton of factors when it comes to dealing with the heat during hot rides, so check out our article on 19 tips to stay cool on hot motorcycle rides.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD SUMMER MOTORCYCLE JACKET?
A good summer motorcycle jacket will keep you cool and well protected, but without losing the badass charm of motorcycle clothing. It should be made from quality materials and must include armor pockets.
Finding the right gear can sometimes feel like looking for the holy grail, but if you take the time to find the perfect summer riding jacket you won't regret it once you're out on the road.
WHAT DO YOU WEAR ON A SUMMER MOTORCYCLE RIDE?
Summer riding gear isn't just limited to jackets. You'd never hit the road in summer without some shades, so why not swap out your current visor for a tinted one? It's a simple DIY fix that you can find plenty of guides for on YouTube.
There's a huge range of Denim Motorcycle Jeans that will suit just about any style. Sa1nt's single layer jeans are made to be less bulky and are fused with Dyneema for a nice cooling effect.
JERSEYS AND BASE LAYERS
Base Layers go over your skin to evaporate moisture. They not only shift sweat away from your skin to keep you cool but keep you dry to prevent irritation. The light, compact fit won't bother you while you ride and prevents your clothes from getting soaked under the sun.
Some riders wear a Motocross Jersey under their jacket to beat the heat instead. The lightweight polyester mesh creates an airflow that keeps riders cool and the moisture wicking material absorbs sweat.
Our instinct is to stick our hands out when we're about to meet the ground, so make sure you've got your hands covered. A good pair of Summer Gloves made with mesh will allow air to flow through your hands, keeping them dry so you can stay in control.
LEATHER JACKETS VERSUS TEXTILE JACKETS FOR SUMMER?
Every rider has their own brand and style, but there's no doubt that a textile jacket will keep you cooler in summer. Leather is a heavy material and doesn't compare to the versatility and features of textile clothing.
Some die-hard bikers will stick to their leathers no matter what, so if you're determined you can try to tough it out. A Black Leather Jacket is the strongest thing you can wear to protect your upper body and has a timeless look if you're a fan of the old school.
Textile gear comes in a wide range of materials, with an even wider choice of unique features and designs. Many textile jackets resemble the style of everyday clothing, so if the leather is too loud for you then something like a denim riding jacket might suit your style.