A motorcycle jacket has so many functions, that cramming them all into a single garment can sometimes seem impossible. However, there are plenty out there that do a great job nonetheless.
One of the first is to keep you protected and when it comes to this, you are looking at two areas; impact resistance, thanks to included armour and abrasion resistance, and construction strength.
When it comes to armour, there are several locations this can be useful. Pretty much all jackets should include armour at the shoulders and the elbows, as there are the main landing areas if you come off the bike. Most jackets will also have a pocket for a back protector (if one is not included – many will be). You'll potentially find chest armour as well, as one of the main areas of injury, particularly in the case of a car pulling out of a side road, is to the chest.
Armour should be CE rated at either Level-1 or Level-2, Level-2 being the better of the two, as it absorbs and dissipates energy better.
When it comes to the garment itself, this will also be CE rated, using either a B, A, AA or AAA rating, AAA being the highest level of protection. All motorcycle equipment is classed as PPE and so, must have a CE rating to be legally sold. The CE rating rated not only the abrasion resistance of the garment but also its construction methods and the likelihood of it remaining intact in the event of an accident.
Related: Best motorcycle waterproofs
Once the protective elements of a garment have been considered, then it’s down to features. Most textile jackets will be waterproof but some might use a single layer of material to do this, some might have a separate waterproof inner jacket (a drop liner) and some may use a membrane to offer waterproofing as well as breathability to stop it getting too sweaty (Gore-Tex is the most famous of these).
Do you want a touring-style jacket (3/4 length for better protection for longer on the bike) or something a little more sporty (shorter and possibly cooler)? Do you want a removable thermal liner so it’s warm on cooler rides and vice versa? How about vents for really warm rides?
There is so much to consider, but here are what we reckon are some of the best jackets around.
This touring-style jacket was given a Recommended triangle when tested by RiDE and I've used it extensively and it's a very nice piece of kit. It's warm, totally dry and the Gore-Tex membrane means it doesn't absorb too much water when it starts to get wet. CE rated A, it comes with Level-1 shoulder and elbow armour and there's a pocket for a back protector. It's a comfortable and easy-to-use jacket that has useful vents on the front to allow some cooling air in when it gets warm. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
One of the first 'affordable' laminate jackets, the Mondial uses Oxford's Dry2Dry breathable and waterproof membrane to keep the weather out and its Warmndry thermal liner to keep you warm in chillier conditions. It's A-rated and comes with Level-1 armour and there are chest and arm vents to get cooling air in when the going gets warm. It's a decent everyday jacket that does well in the wet and cold. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well.
Tested by Mike Armitage for 1000 miles. Quality 3/5, Value 5/5
Protection is the reason we wrap ourselves in riding clobber. Protection from the rain and wind, certainly, but surely the main reason is to stop the road removing a layer of bark should we muddle our intentions and abilities. This is the reason why I’m always amazed how seemingly top-line bike kit can offer next to bugger-all protection. I had a £420 race-style leather jacket made from ‘high performance cowhide’, held together with what they claim to be safety stitching, yet that had a feeble A-level CE rating.
Then there was the all-singing Gore-Tex Pro textile jacket that cost an eye-watering £800 but that again had a CE rating of just A. Yes, 800 quid for something that’s only tested for abrasion resistance to 28mph and on the shoulders and arms only, not the chest or back. I wouldn’t want to fall off my pushbike wearing it.
Which is why this Duchinni jacket is such damn good value. I know it looks a bit 1990s, that the material isn’t the softest and that there isn’t a back protector included. But it has loads of pockets and vents and adjustment, a removable thermal liner, cheerfully keeps the rain out, and most importantly has a much more inspiring AA rating – and it costs just £159. That’s properly impressive value. And for those on a really tight budget Duchinni’s AA-rated textile jackets start at under £100.
When the Richa Cyclone (above) was given a Recommended by RiDE, this jacket from Dane got the Best Buy triangle in the same test. It too uses a Gore-Tex membrane bonded to the outer and comes with Level-1 armour in the elbows, shoulders and back. It's A-rated but is full of nice touches, such as a magnetic fastener on the collar, a crotch strap to prevent it from riding up and storm cuffs to keep the weather out. It's warm and cosy though it comes up a little large. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well.
Spid jackets tend to come up slightly snug, thanks to the Italian motorsport design, but this example is very good. It's rated AA and comes with Level-2 armour in the shoulders and elbows, though a matching back protector is extra. It uses a Cordua outer with an H2Out membrane and removable thermal liner and there are chest and arm vents for cooling air. The collar of the liner comes up tall but can be tucked out of the way and it's warm and keeps the weather out. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
The Ascent from Spada packs a huge amount into a low price. It's formed in a cotton canvas outer with Armaflex panels over high-impact areas and it has a fixed breathable and waterproof membrane. It is AA rated and comes with Level-2 armour at the shoulders, elbows and a Level-1 back protector. It has vents at the torso, shoulders and forearms and kept water out of the body, though it did absorb a lot in the outer. It got a RiDE Recommended triangle in the magazine's test. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
This jacket from Held features a well-put-together liner that zips in all the way round to eliminate draughts and cold spots. It's only A-rated and comes with Level-1 armour so its confidence is a little lower than you'd hope for but it does a good job of keeping water and cold out. Its main front vents are on the chest so a faired bike could reduce the effectiveness a bit, but with the liner removed, it soon gets cooler. Another to get a Recommended award from RiDE. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
This touring jacket from Furygan is A-rated and comes with Level-1 D30 armour at the shoulders and elbows, and has a pocket for a back protector. However, it is also one of the brand's jackets that is ready for its zip-in airbag vest, powered by the In&motion technology. This might make it bulky, but it is reassuring and the jacket itself is well cut, warm and dry.
There are two prices for the RST Paragon 6, as you can buy it with the company's airbag insert built-in (using the In&motion technology) or without to use a traditional back protector. It's AA rated and comes with Level-1 elbow and shoulder armour and uses the company's SinAqua membrane to keep the weather out but allow the body to breathe. We've tried similar jackets to this and they have always kept the weather out and remained warm.
Related: Best leather motorcycling jackets
"I've had it for 18 years, covering about 100,000 miles, and have no idea how many wet and dry miles I've ridden but it's always kept me safe and dry. Unlined but room to layer up or use an electric kit to keep cosy." Richard Allies, Stoke on Trent
"I recently bought the jacket and matching trousers, both are Gore-Tex and I tested them in a recent 350-mile ride. In heavy rain, the kit kept me warm and comfortable all day, most importantly it kept me dry." Andrew Pattenden, Barnsley
"I would recommend this kit, I toured Scotland for a week, it rained every day, and I stayed dry the whole time." Tony Hubbard, Melton Mowbray