Ever since people took to motorcycles, they have chosen to ride in leather jackets, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, they can offer exceptional protection. Leather is one of the most abrasion-resistant materials available (hence why racing suits are made of leather) and is most likely to protect you in the event of an off that sees you sliding down the road.
They can also be very casual and not scream ‘motorcyclist’ at the top of their voice, which can be useful if you’re on the bike but also, want to spend some time off it when you arrive at your destination or, indeed, en route.
They can also help create an image of you and your bike, from old-school racer to biker bad-boy. In fact, many non-motorcycling leather jackets have taken their cues from garments developed and used on the road – look at Marlon Brando’s jacket in The Wild One, for example.
What to look for in a leather motorcycle jacket
In practical terms, modern leather will look cool, should protect you from at least a slide and a tumble and can even help keep you warm and dry. It will feature armour like any motorcycling jacket – at the shoulders and elbows and if it doesn’t come with one, should have a pocket for an optional back protector and possibly chest protection too. These will be CE Level-1 or the higher-specification and more impact-absorbent Level-2 so check.
The jacket itself should also be CE rated, with a B, A, AA or AAA rating, AAA being the most abrasion-resistant and with the most secure construction. You could also look for a removable thermal liner to help keep you warm on a chilly ride and a degree of water-resistance may also be present though not as effective as a proper waterproof textile, for example. If it looks like rain, then grab yourself a set of throw-over waterproofs, as we looked at recently.
MCN's expert testers have been taking a selection of leather jackets to task. Here's what they've had to say.
This buffalo leather jacket combines retro looks with a sporty twist, thanks to its detachable
Inside there’s a detachable thermal gilet to help keep the chill away from your core on cooler days, but I have to admit to riding without it most of the time. I found the fit to be pretty much true to size, although you will need to go a size up if you’re planning on wearing multiple layers underneath. Available in sizes UK 8-20, and in mens’ cut, too.
This is a retro-style jacket that is actually impressively versatile. The design is subtle and
I've been really impressed. It's comfortable, fits well, oozes quality (the metal Astars detail on the right sleeve is a typical touch), the lining works great and it's stylish on or off bike so much so that it's become my go-to jacket, not just for retro bikes but for round town and all-day rides, too. It's even not bad value.
This is one of my favourite jackets for summer riding - it’s sleek, sculpted and is made from soft
The pockets are surprisingly roomy, and the one on the sleeve holds a payment card perfectly which makes paying for toll booths a lot easier. Plus, thanks to the hip adjustment zippers, you’ve got a bit of adjustability if you get uncomfortable.
I only used this for mega hot days on the road as anything less would render me a little chilly, especially if doing long miles. The cut means there isn’t much wriggle room for a jumper underneath unless you get the next size up, but the removeable thermal liner is surprisingly effective. As you’d expect for a quality leather jacket, the price is somewhat on the high side, but the quality is immense and will last for years
I’m blown away by the quality of this stylish jacket – which in terms of looks and finish compares
Minor niggles are that the inside pocket is on the right (so I have to remove both gloves to get my wallet), the phone pocket won’t take an iPhone in a case, and only Oxford’s (£29.99) back protector insert fits – I can’t use one I already have. Those are small points – it’s a great jacket and outstanding value. All it really lacks is the snob value of an Italian label.
Minimal adjustment at the hips comes in the form of two zipped flaps. I’m not overly curvy in the
I opted for the black version, but it also comes in a dark brown. Both options are available from sizes 8-20 and they come up true to size. I’m 5’10” and long in both body and arms but find everything fits perfectly.
Competitively priced at just under £200 and has a quality feel that you’d expect from jackets that cost more.
It’s CE approved to the A-rating and has level one CE approved armour at the elbows and shoulders. There’s also a pocket for a back protector, which can be retro fitted. What I do like about this jacket is it doesn’t look too ‘bikey’ if it’s worn with riding jeans or leggings. My only criticism is it doesn’t have a connecting zip but that’s really being quite nit-picky.
As someone who does their weekly food ‘big shop’ based on what’s on offer and who has been known
It's not, of course, and you realise why as soon as you get hold of it. Created out of horse hide, the PureBoxer jacket has a fabulously smooth finish and subtle sheen, and softness that makes you want to stroke it. Quality is wondrous. Copper is used for the zips, press-studs and arm badge which adds another layer of class, as does the silky liner and high-quality removable thermal layer. You get a little kit as well, which contains a couple of badges in alternative colours. There’s another journalist I know who’s a riding kit magpie, and he couldn’t stop cooing over the jacket last time we bumped into each other – a sign of its obvious quality.
After a year of now-and-then use (I can’t help but save it for best) there are a couple of niggles. One of the leather tags pulled off a pocket zip, and the delicate lining inside the sleeves is starting to fray a tiny bit from where it’s been in contact with Velcro on gloves. While it’s AA-rated and has pukka shoulder and elbow armour there’s no back protector included, either. I can forgive these minor niggles however, simply because the jacket feels special each occasion that I wear it. Splendid garment.
There’s no question that the Richa Mugello is an expensive jacket at a penny shy of £420, but it’s
It may be made of 1.3mm cowhide leather and feature a thermal lining, but you do get a cooling chill through the stretch panels of the arms, but that is welcome when the temperature climbs. On top of this, you also get D3O armour on the shoulders and elbows as standard which are soft, comfortable, and unnoticed when you’re riding, however I think you should get a back protector as standard for this price.
This particular jacket has the back armour installed and it too is soft and flexible, adding to the comfort. If you want to take things further, there’s space for a chest protector, too. Also adding to the comfort are the soft neoprene cuffs, with Velcro waist straps also allowing you to tailor it to your exact fit. Those wanting to make it into a set of two-piece leathers can do so too thanks to the wrap around zip.
More top leather motorcycling jackets to consider
We've seen a few Texpeed products from Amazon and they usually get pretty good reviews online and
As the name suggests, Dainese's sporty Super Race leather jacket is pretty much track ready.
10. Weise Detroit
Gaining a Recommended award in RiDE's test, the Detroit from Weise is a retro-style jacket that is
11. Oxford Hampton
This classic-styled jacket from Oxford is CE AA rated and comes with shoulder and elbow armour and
12. Spada Wyatt
The Wyatt is another retro-style leather jacket, with subtle styling and a relatively straight
This jacket from Furygan has a touch of both sporty and retro styling to it. Formed in cowhide, it