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.
Leather jackets come in a whole range of styles, from sports to retro and touring designs. They can also be 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.
We've pulled together a selection of the different types of leather jacket available, covering sporty, retro, waterproof and those designed for women.