by Nikki Jardin
Next to the helmet, your motorcycle jacket is one of the most important pieces of riding gear and outerwear that you'll own. It's true that leather motorcycle jackets have the potential to look cool, but that's not their ultimate purpose. In the event that you fall off your bike, you need to be protected against scrapes or other serious bodily injury. When it comes time to choose a motorcycle jacket, these tips will help you find one that is both protective and fashionable.
Choose either leather or synthetic material. Pros and cons exist with each one, so you will have to determine what makes the most sense for you. Where you will be riding is a big factor. If you will be riding primarily in a hot, sunny climate, a leather motorcycle jacket will become uncomfortable quickly. Synthetic fibers are breathable, water-resistant and strong, but they will wear out faster than leather. Some manufacturers are now creating jackets with a combination of leather and synthetic fibers.
Check for a roomier fit. Pick a jacket that is slightly bigger than the size you generally wear so you can layer extra clothing beneath it. You will appreciate the extra warmth on cool evenings. The cuffs of the sleeves should reach your wrists. You also want to make sure the jacket is long enough to cover your lower back when you're in riding position. A jacket that comes right to the waist may not offer sufficient protection in case of an accident.
Buy a jacket with armor protection for elbows and shoulders. Lightweight but strong padding is sewn into many newer jackets, including those made out of leather, to protect these vulnerable areas on your body. This will add some bulk and may feel uncomfortable at first, but you will feel more secure when you're riding with the best protection you can get.
Be visible. Black motorcycle jackets are very popular, but they do have the drawback of making a rider virtually invisible at night. Many jackets have piping or strips woven into the fabric that are highly reflective when met with headlights. This is a must-have to check for when you are considering a new jacket. Being as visible as possible while you're riding can save your life.
Purchase a quality piece of clothing. A good, safe motorcycle jacket can be costly, but like your helmet, you need to consider its value. Look for thick leathers and synthetic fibers. Go with a reputable brand when in doubt.
Do not purchase used motorcycle jackets unless you know the person who is selling them. Used jackets may have been poorly cared for, decreasing the quality of the materials.