A motorcycle jacket is one of the most important pieces of safety gear you will buy, so you should take care to find one which will offer you the best level of protection. There are lots of different styles and brands, so you’ll probably need to do quite a bit of research to find the right one for you.
The first point to note is that you should avoid cheap (or sometimes not so cheap) fashion jackets which are styled to look like motorcycle jackets but are usually quite flimsily constructed and will offer almost zero protection in an accident. Buy a real motorcycle jacket – if you’re in doubt, go to your local motorcycle accessories store.
No so long ago, pretty much all motorbike jackets were made from leather, but these days you can also buy jackets made from modern textiles that are tougher than leather and also lighter and more waterproof. That said, many bikers still prefer the classic style of leather, and a high quality leather motorcycle jacket will usually offer plenty of protection, although the one downside is that they are not very waterproof and if they get wet in heavy rain it can take a long time to dry them out.
How to spot a good quality motorcycle jacket
One of the first things you should look at is the quality of stitching along the seams – a good jacket will have robust double stitching on all of the seams, which will hold the jacket together if you end up bouncing along the road at high speed. Likewise, and zips and fasteners should be strong.
Next, look at the jacket’s armour. Cheaper motorcycle jackets will usually have a little extra padding on the elbows and shoulders, but better quality items will have more substantial armour at those points. Most jackets come with a thin foam spine protector built in, although this won’t offer as much protection as a proper turtle-back style spine protector.
Quite often all of the armour or padding can be removed, in case it needs to be replaced or you just want to wear the jacket without all the extra bulk – although you shouldn’t take the armour out if you’re going to be wearing it out on a ride.
It’s a good idea to buy a motorcycle jacket with a removable winter lining, so that it can keep you warm in cold weather and still be usable once things heat up in the summer. Also, check to see if zips and buckles are designed to be operated while you’re wearing a pair of gloves. Another point to bear in mind is that motorcycle clothing manufacturers often design jackets and trousers to match, so it’s worth seeing if the jacket you’re interested in is fitted with a zip around the base to attach securely to a matching pair of trousers. This is a good idea because it will help keep the jacket and trousers in place during the rough and tumble of a crash.
Finally, although everybody likes to choose a motorcycle jacket that looks awesome, keep safety in mind – a jacket with reflective material built into the design might not look as cool as a plain black jacket, but when you’re tearing around at high speed in poor light conditions, you need every bit of help you can get to make sure car drivers can see you coming.