Motorcycle jackets offer
a number of features designed for comfort and protection that set
them apart from regular jackets. Traditionally, leather has been
a popular choice because of its durability, abrasion resistance
and wind resistance. One main downside to leather motorcycle jackets
is they can get hot during warm weather rides and they get heavy
when wet. Synthetic materials have been improving over the years
and textile jackets offer lightweight, water resistant protection.
Motorcycle jackets are cut differently from regular coats. They
are fuller in the shoulders and the sleeves are cut longer (and
sometimes pre-curved) to be more comfortable in the riding position.
Uncomfortable riding gear that fits poorly or binds can distract
a motorcycle operator, making it difficult to focus on controlling
the bike. Brightly colored materials and reflective strips help
improve the motorcycle rider’s visibility to other motorists.
Below are some other motorcycle jacket features to consider when
selecting a jacket.
- Armor & Padding: Motorcycle jackets usually include
armor or padding in the shoulders, collarbone & elbows. Some
motorcycle jackets include pockets for spine protection and occasionally
built in kidney pads.
- Vents: Zippered vents are sometimes included in the sleeves
to promote air circulation in warm weather riding. Leather motorcycle
jackets have areas of perforated leather in the shoulder area for
venting body heat.
- Riding Pants Connectivity: Motorcycle racers wear one piece
riding suits for maximum protection. These usually aren’t
practical for the average rider but some companies build zippers
into motorcycle jackets and pants that allow them to zip together.
This helps ensure that riding gear stays in place in the event of
a crash. Different manufacturers use different configurations so
if this option is important to you, double check to make sure that
the connections are compatible before making a purchase.
- Over flaps: Many motorcycle jackets will have flaps that
fasten over the zipper. These flaps serve a dual purpose: sealing
the wind out of the jacket and protecting the motorcycle’s
paint from being scratched by the metal of the zipper.
- Low Profile Collars: Motorcycle jackets have low cut collars
to allow unrestricted head movement and minimize irritation from
rubbing. Tall collars will flap in the breeze and create distractions
for the rider. The collars on motorcycle jackets can have Velcro,
snaps or buckles to close the collar to help seal out wind.
- Removable Lining: To help make motorcycle jackets more
versatile they often include a lining that zips or snaps out. This
insulation adds warmth and wind resistance to make the jacket practical
for cold weather riding but can be removed for summer riding.
- Adjustable Cuffs and Waist: The cuffs on most motorcycle
jackets are adjustable and can be tightened to keep out wind. Usually,
the waist is adjustable as well to keep the jacket snug to the rider.
Loose fitting gear will catch the wind while riding and parachute
When riding in hot weather,
wearing a heavy leather jacket can be warm and stifling.
There is an old saying among riders, however: sweat wipes
off, road rash doesn't. Generally, the protection of a high
quality motorcycle jacket is worth a little discomfort.
Now there is a compromise that can keep you cool as well
as safe. Mesh motorcycle jackets allow ample airflow to
help cool the rider. Like other styles of motorcycle jackets,
armor is an important component to protect against impact
injuries. The body of a mesh jacket is made up of a number
synthetic (usually polyester) mesh layers. The multiple
layers are designed to improve abrasion resistance of the
jacket but generally they can not effectively compare to
the protection of a leather jacket or standard textile jacket.
Other complaints about mesh jackets are that the fabric
of the mesh is easily snagged or torn. Many riders in hot
weather climates swear by mesh motorcycle jackets since
the are very effective in keeping the rider cool. While
the protection of mesh jackets is not perfect, it is considerably
better than a t-shirt. Ultimately, a motorcycle jacket can
only offer crash protection if it is comfortable enough
to be worn consistently.