Welcome to the second most controversial riding gear item. Why is that? Well, as with motorcycle riding gloves are mainly made from two different materials (leather and textile) so are motorcycle jackets. As with gloves, leather came first, and has it’s own style and appearance but textile is not only quickly catching up but also passing the protection of leather in many areas. While textile clothing cannot be as easily patched up as leather, more professional motorcycle racers are wearing it over leather. While you may find heated debates over weather to wear a helmet or not, you won’t find any (or hardly any) on wearing some sort of protective jacket. Those who do not choose to wear a jacket and opt for a T-shirt or even bare-backed are making a their own statement, I just do not know what that is. Crashing and sliding down a road till they stop with a T-shirt on is a gory though and something you probably never want to see. Watching motorcycle races and seeing racers slide down the track wearing a full leather suit till they stop is a thought easier to deal with because you know the odds are greatly in their favour of walking away.
Ok, enough with the images on to the facts. Motorcycle jackets are there to protect you from abrasion (rubbing), impact (quick, strong blows) and puncture (piercing) damage. The odds are very high that if you fall off a bike you will land on somewhere where your jacket will be. Both leather and Textile are designed to address these issues using thick, high-grade leather, armor pieces (hard and soft), double stitch sewing, Kevlar, rivets and foam in the joints. Many manufacturers offer a dizzying array of styles and designs, you just have to visit any local motorcycle store or Internet retailer to find something that will suit your style and budget. It is always best in the interests of safety to get a jacket in other than black so other drivers Can see, and notice you better. Bright colours are the best (gold, yellow, orange, red, blue, etc) but even dark blue, purple, red and green are better than black.
WHAT DO LOOK FOR:
– A good fit in very important with room to have a sweater underneath for cold days.
– If the jacket has armor make sure it is over what it should be protecting. (Shoulder armor is over your shoulder, not your biceps). Check the shoulders and elbows especially.
– Construction. Look at the seams and stitching, see if it looks strong where impact points are, take the time to notice smaller details like pockets, zippers vents, wind protection. If the company designed these areas well, chances are they took the time to do the same all over.
– Reflective/White strips. They will reflect headlights at night making your otherwise dark jacket noticeable. To be seen is important, and doubly so at night or in weather when visibility is poor.
– Thickness of the Leather. Good leather should be at least 1mm thick and ideally thicker. The thicker the leather generally means more protection for you all over.
– Vents. If you ride in hot weather, you will appreciate that your jacket is equipped to let the wind pass though it and cool you down.
– Colour. As mentioned look for bright colours over darker ones. This reduces the chance of drivers saying “I didn’t see him/her”.