Motorcycles and leather jackets. It’s like cookies and milk. Peanut butter and jam. The two are synonymous. Inseparable. Next to your helmet, its a very important piece of gear
There is a good reason for this. It’s the safest darn material you can wear on your body. In this article we will take a look at the best leather motorcycle jacket for you and your style of bike.
Jackets In This Review
- Alpinestars GP Plus R v2 Airflow
- First Manufacturing Commuter
- Roland Sands Design Ronin
- Alpinestars SP-1 Airflow
- First Manufacturing Top Performer
Leather has been protecting human flesh throughout our history. Even today there are few man made materials that are as tough and abrasion resistant as leather.
Cowhide is the most common type of material you will find in a leather motorcycle jacket. It’s a tried and true material that’s been part of motorcycle history. Around 1928 the first purpose designed motorcycle jacket was made. We have never looked back since.
Dressing for the slide and not the ride is a common saying in the motorcycle world. Nobody understands this more than Moto GP racers. Full leather suits are their protection of choice. You can bet if it’s trusted by them, it could be trusted by you as well.
Here is a crazy little video of a guy demonstrating its abrasion resistance in what could only be called a real world test.
It’s plain to see why this material is trusted throughout the motorcycle world.
When the weather gets cool, there’s no material that you can put on your body that will deflect the wind better than leather. Granted this will have a polar opposite effect in the summer.
Every spring and fall I dawn my leather jacket. I wouldn’t want to be in anything else to battle the chill. With a thermal liner I can tolerate anything just above freezing for a good amount of time
What Makes a Quality Leather Jacket
There are two grades of leather to look at. Full and Top grain.
This is the most sought after of the two. Some of the best motorcycle leather jackets are full grain. It has superior longevity and durability due to the fact that the grain stays intact. It is the thicker of the two. It will contain some blemishes but that’s the trade off for its better durability.
Top-grain is a little more “processed” if you will. The leather is sanded down more in order to remove some of its blemishes. This gives the leather a more uniform look and feel to it. The trade off is it’s a bit thinner. Top-grain is a good strong leather. It does have a better look than Full-grain leather but isn’t quite as strong. In the world of motorcycle jackets, strength is more important than overall aesthetics.
Stitching is important for motorcycle leather jackets. Double stitching is good. Triple stitching is best. On more budget jackets you may find a combo of single stitching with glue. This won’t hold up as well to the forces of separation in a slide.
Nowadays armor plays a big role in the protection a jacket offers. CE rated armor is the go to standard in shoulder, elbow and back protection. There are two levels of CE rating. CE 1 and CE 2, with CE 2 offering the highest level of impact protection
The Selection Process
Full disclosure here. No one jacket excels at everything. When evaluating leather jackets we must take into account many factors. We will break it down into different categories so you can decide what your priorities are.
When discussing the best leather motorcycle jacket, the style of the jacket is an important consideration. A full on aggressive race jacket will not be something you will be wearing on your cruiser. You could, but we aim to give you a better option for the type of bike and the type of riding you do. Different leather jackets are much better suited for different types of bikes.
Type of Riding You Do
How do you need your jacket to perform? For example, some have good ventilation. Others are great for spring/fall cool weather riding. Some offer commuter functionality. Knowing how you need your jacket to perform is important. Are you doing track days? Do you ride to work often? If so be aware that leather can’t withstand being continuously soaked if rain is something you encounter often.
Do you need to look casual off the bike as well? We try and address these here.
Track focused jackets will offer the most protection. Most tracks require a minimum safety standard for your gear so be aware of this if track days are in your future.
Today, even the most fashion conscious jacket will have armor sewn in or at least pockets that accept armor that’s bought separately.
The price of leather motorcycle jackets can get high. There are lower priced options out there that will protect much more than bare skin will.
I typically use leather during the early and late riding season. That means I’m maybe in leather for two months. My investment in my leather jacket reflects this. It’s safe, it’s just not a full on, track spec jacket that’s over a thousand dollars.
On to our list.
Best Sport/Track Leather Jacket
This is one of Alpinestars best selling leather jackets. For good reason. Alpinestars is one of the best leather motorcycle jacket brands. For the price, this is a fantastic jacket for any sport/track rider.
I love Alpinestars stars products myself. I feel this fits like a second skin which is what I want when sport riding.
It’s equally at home on the track as well as the street. It also comes in a ladies version as well!
It’s made from thick 1.3mm thick leather. The same used in Alpinestars race suits.
It’s perforated to add a bit of breathability on warmer days.
It has CE level protection on the limbs with added thermoplastic impact protectors on the shoulders. No back protector comes with it but one can be added.
It has a zipper around the inside of the waist to attach race pants if needed.
The only real downside I see with this garment is its lack of reflectivity in any of the piping or panels.
Beyond that I feel sport riders out there can’t go wrong with this.
- Premium quality
- Excellent price point
- 1.3mm thick leather
- Good for warmer weather
- Ladies version available
Lack of reflectivity
Best Leather Jacket For Commuting
The name kind of says it all here. If commuting is what you do, this jacket will have you covered.
With commuting, it can be chilly on the way in to work and hot on the way home.
The commuter jacket comes with a removable thermal liner and breast zipper vents. This allows you to have more control over the temperature.
It’s made of 1.2mm vintage styled leather.
One drawback is armour is not included but can be added.
The price point is accessible for most.
This jacket will suit most bike styles from naked to cruiser.
It comes in black and brown. I love the brown. It has a real vintage look I’m drawn to. First Manufacturing make some cool leather motorcycle jackets.
- Good temperature control ability
- Affordable price
- Fits a wide variety of bike styles
Armour not included
Best On/Off Bike Leather Jacket
If looking good off the bike is just as important as looking good on the bike then the RSD Ronin is the jacket to accomplish just that. RSD make some of the most badass motorcycle jackets.
I’m a big fan of this jacket. I think the cut is
spot on and would easily rock this on a night out as well.
This is a Full-grain leather jacket with a 1.2mm thick main body.
Style and quality leather is what this jacket is about. Its waxed, aged look will break in really well and is built to last for years.
It’s a riding fit with slightly pre curved sleeves yet not too aggressive for when you are off the bike.
Armour is not included but it does have pouches sewn in so you can add if desired.
The inside panels are perforated for airflow.
It comes in a really nice tobacco color and classic black
- Very stylish even when not riding
- Quality Full-grain leather
- Nice vintage look with wax finish
No armour included
Best Warm Weather Leather Jacket
The Alpinestars SP-1 Airflow offers you the ability to ride with the protection of leather even on the hottest days. I currently own an Alpinestars. I love the fit and slim, streamline cut that they offer.
This thing is perforated over the entire chest and back panels as well as the inside of the arms. It will suck in air as you ride and vent it out keeping your body breathing and ventilated. I don’t believe there is a better option for a warm weather leather. It comes with a polyester thermal liner just in case the chill picks up.
The material is 1.3mm cowhide that will break in nicely over time. It offers CE 1 rated shoulder and elbow protection. A back protector can be added as well. The shoulders offer molded TPU protection under the outer fabric. It has large accordion panels at the upper arms and elbows for greater range of motion
This jacket will suit a more sporty style of riding. . It has nice clean lines for a tailored looking fit.
- Massive amounts of perforation
- Comes with CE 1 shoulder and elbow armor
- 1.3mm cowhide
Black is the only color option for the main body
Best value Leather Jacket
If a top rated, value jacket is what you are looking for that won’t cause you to go broke, this is it. This jacket looks badass to me and can easily be worn off the bike as well.
The Top Performer is a popular option.
It offers 1.2mm cowhide. I was surprised how nice this leather looks and feels. It comes with a full sleeve thermal liner. It has two vented chest pockets and two zippered underarm vents. There is no included armour but it does have pockets for aftermarket protection if you so choose. One thing I like about this jacket is it has black reflective piping on the back. It is stealth and unnoticable which is a nice touch.
It has a classic leather motorcycle jacket look so it will look good on pretty much any bike.
Great buy and a jacket that will last years.
- A lot of jacket for the price
- Good amount of vents and a thermal liner
- Stealth reflectivity on the back
One color option
No included armour
I personally believe in the undisputed overall value of a leather jacket. Despite the high price of some of them, you really get what you pay for.
A quality leather jacket will literally last a lifetime. They will protect you like nothing else. I believe the jackets in this review will do just that. Depending on your needs and your style preferences, I believe the jackets in this review are the top rated for what they do. I would personally be happy with any of these. My personal favorite is the Roland Sands Design Ronin. Its leather is fantastic and it is very well designed. It’s an heirloom piece in my option.
I believe every biker should own leather. It’s almost a right of passage in a way. They just feel right on a bike.
What good is the protection of a jacket without some protective gloves? Check our Best Motorcycle Gloves Round up
Happy riding and be sure to check out our partners