When riding a motorcycle, few materials treat a rider’s torso better than a leather jacket for a myriad of reasons, namely safety. Safety is always paramount when it comes to choosing the right gear and knowing the anatomy of your options is key. Ideally, the perfect leather motorcycle jacket is a much-valued component of a rider’s gear and can last as quality protection for years to come with proper care.
Why You Should Wear a Leather Motorcycle Jacket
Often, leather motorcycle jackets are an item that riders think of as a resource to keep them warm during the colder months. We’ve all been cruising down the road at 55 mph when it’s a brisk 45 degrees outside and felt that severe wind chill factor.
However, leather motorcycle jackets can also assist in keeping you cooler in the warmer months by preventing dehydration. When a rider wears a t-shirt or other lightweight apparel in an effort to remain comfortable and cool during the summer, all of their sweat evaporates quickly. Your body will continue to sweat under these circumstances which can lead to dehydration. By wearing a leather motorcycle jacket, you can contain preparation (as counterintuitive as that may sound) which will prevent you from continuously releasing sweat. Many well-designed leather motorcycle jackets will also have optional “vents” built into their design, which, when opened, provide a little more maneuverability and also aids in some cross-ventilation around the lower torso and underarm areas.
Technically leather isn’t weatherproof, but it does a great job of repelling water, which means prevention of rain soaking into you as you ride. Leather also does an excellent job of combatting wind, which can make or break the quality of your rides.
And if you are still on the fence about needing to wear leather, reflect back to being a kid and skinning your knee. Now, imagine that amplified by riding speeds. You’re looking at some serious road rash, and that’s probably the BEST case scenario. Prevent this by choosing the right gear to suit up with.
What You Must Consider When Wearing Leather
There are some main factors that every rider should consider when investing in gear like a leather motorcycle jacket, including:
- Riding Style – Are you a commuter, weekend warrior, long-haul road trips, track days, off-roading?
- Price Range – Determine how frequently you ride and in what type of conditions. A pre-owned jacket can sometimes be found for around $100, and custom leathers could range in the thousands.
- Safety Range – More frequently, the new leather jackets are having pockets included within their design so that armor can be added to them. It’s a personal preference as some riders don’t like armor — others swear by it and won’t ride without it.
The Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets
Best for Riding Around Town
Great attention to detail makes this Roland Sands Design Ronin Leather Jacket a must for the rider that enjoys cruising around town. This Cafe Racer-inspired jacket has a hand-finished, oiled, and waxed top grain cowhide. Pre-curved sleeves and armor ready. $620 – More info
Best for a Road Trip
Milwaukee Motorcycle Clothing Company offers the Men’s Crazy Horse Jacket in a fashionable distressed leather with body armor on the arms, shoulders, and back along with highly reflective piping. With vertical 12” vents on the front and back vents, it allows a rider to easily adjust the airflow on those long-haul rides. $250 – More info
Best for Summer Riding
When a rider wants to have the best gear even during blistering hot summers, the Tourmaster Element Cooling Jacket fits the bill. With water-resistant cowhide leather that has a TFL cooling leather treatment to reduce UV rays resulting in the temperature of the jacket to be reduced by up to 15 percent compared to standard leather. $400 – More info
Best for the Track Riders
The Cortech Adrenaline Men’s Leather Racing Jacket ensures you’ll show up on the track in a vibrant red and white leather at a weight less than 7 pounds. It features both perforated and non-perforated panels, armor at elbows and shoulders with triple density on the back. $288 – More info
Best for New Riders (Male)
FLAVOR offers a brown leather motorcycle jacket with a removable hood and well-positioned pockets to ensure valuables do not fall out; the hip-length design prevents it from riding up on the torso. $150 – More info
Best for New Riders (Female)
True Elements has designed the Women’s Motorcycle Leather Jacket, which features pebble-grained leather, removable thermal insulation, with two outside pockets and one inside, leather stretch panels along the back and under the arm, and non-corroding heavy snaps and zippers. $160 – More info
Best for Women
Showing some well-deserved love for our lady-viewers. The Joe Rocket Classic ’92 Women’s Leather Motorcycle Jacket is made from drum-dyed cowhide with pockets for optional armor on the shoulders, elbows, and back. There are five interior pockets to hold necessities and a quilted liner for additional warmth or fit. $256 – More info
Best for Riders on a Budget
The Diamond Plate Rock Design Jacket is genuine Buffalo Leather and comes in under $50! This jacket has a nylon lining, a Nehru collar, and zippered wrist closure. The embroidered patches are included in case you were wondering. $49 – More info
Best for Style AND Budget
For the rider that might have spent a bit too much on chrome but still wants to look stylish while riding down the road, Spazeup has designed this fully-lined distressed leather jacket that has a bit of a Cafe Racer retro feel to it. It features zippered pockets along with zippered cuffs to keep the sleeves from ballooning out while riding. With a weight of fewer than 4 pounds, it’s a good selection as a year-round jacket at an affordable price. $85 – More info
Best for Night Riding
The Milwaukee Men’s Reflective is fantastic for night riding due to the high reflective piping that is all along the sleeves, shoulders, and back area, which allows the rider to have increased visibility to other motorists at night. This jacket is also great for riders wanting a really good fit as it has stretch panels around the waist and multiple air vents. $250 – More info
Vintage / Retro Suggestions
While vintage jackets are appealing due to the natural distressing they may have acquired over the years, a rider will never know its history or how it has been cared for. For safety reasons, it would be optimum to select a new jacket that has a retro style such as:
Vintage for Women
Consider the Milwaukee Women’s Motorcycle Motorbike Traditional Police Jacket. Constructed of premium milled cowhide, there is a half-belt to help with a better fit, two lower pockets on the exterior, and a built-in concealment and ammo pocket. This jacket is an authentic, old-school look that will definitely get the rider noticed. $125 – More info
Vintage for Men
The Cortech Men’s Dino is a fantastically stylish nod toward the Cafe Racer scene utilizing thick cowhide to create this retro feel. Pockets are well situated to ensure valuables don’t fall out, and the metal hardware is antique! $231 – More info
Cleaning and Caring for Your Leather Jacket
When caring for a leather motorcycle jacket, conditioning is the most critical component as the cowhide leather does dry out over time; thus, the threads stitching the jacket together can begin to rot. Depending upon the frequency of your riding, investing a little effort a few times a year should care for your jacket — and will allow your jacket to care for you in return!
- Place your leather jacket on a clothes hanger and place it on a shower curtain rod, back of a door, or somewhere water-friendly.
- Mix a bucket of warm water with a few drops of dishwashing soap, and use a microfiber towel to gently wipe down the exterior of your leather jacket. Rinse the towel in clean water to prevent repeated wipedowns in dirty water.
- Allow the jacket to dry in a well-ventilated place; do NOT use any type of artificial heat on it because you will only damage the leather as it can possibly shrink and crack.
- Once the leather is completely dry, invest some time in gently massaging a quality leather conditioner into the jacket.
- Allow the jacket to absorb the conditioner and then gently wipe it down with a soft, clean, dry cloth.
- Here are a couple of high-quality conditioners we recommend
There are numerous options when it comes to how you decide to suit up and the quality (and price range) of leather motorcycle jackets. Ensure you find your perfect jacket and take to the road safely — and in style! Your personal protection doesn’t stop at your choice of leather though; make sure to read up on the different types of motorcycle helmets available, including the best lightweight options on the market today. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below, and, as always, if you’ve found this content to be helpful, please share it so others can benefit as well.