by Staff Writer
Buying a motorcycle is a big deal, but so is buying a stylish motorcycle jacket to go with it. After your helmet, a high-quality black leather jacket may be the most important motorcycle gear you buy. A classic motorcycle jacket not only makes a statement of the wearer's individuality, but it also provides protection against the elements and offers crucial reinforcement for the body in the case of a crash. When you shop for a biker jacket that will protect you for years to come, you'll want to consider the material, the fit, the padding and the pockets. This motorcycle jacket buying guide will show you how to buy the men's motorcycle jacket or women's motorcycle jacket that is right for you.
Leather: While non-leather motorcycle jackets have come a long way in recent years, a good leather motorcycle jacket is hard to beat. Keep in mind, though, that all leather bike jackets are not created equal; look for jackets made from high-grade leather, such as cowhide, and avoid split leather, which provides less protection than other types. A good leather motorcycle jacket should be made from leather that is at least one millimeter thick.
Non-leather: Modern non-leather motorcycle jackets made from high-density ballistic nylon or Kevlar that feature waterproof liners also provide essential protection. Some of the advantages of non-leather jackets include being lighter in weight and drying more quickly than leathers.
Sizing: If your leather jacket doesn't fit you properly, you aren't going to wear it as much, so make sure the jacket is comfortable when you are in the riding position. For a jacket to be comfortable while you're on your bike, it will need to have slightly longer sleeves, have extra shoulder room and come down far enough in the back to cover the top of your pants. To find a leather jacket in the right size when you are shopping online, be sure to refer to the sizing guide and always measure yourself. Remember that you'll want your biker jacket to have enough room to comfortably wear a bulky layer, like a sweater, underneath, so you may want to take your measurements while wearing a sweater.
Vents: Wearing your jacket for protection is important, even when it's hot outside. If you'll be riding in a hot climate, you may want to look for a men's motorcycle jacket or women's motorcycle jacket with vents. Vents usually have zipper closures. They are often placed in the front and back of the jacket as well as in the sleeves to allow a little breeze to cool you down while you ride.
Padding: The more padding your leather bike jackets have, the more protected you are. Look for reinforced elbows, shoulders and backs. Padding can consist of anything from extra layers of material to high-tech plastic composites, often called "armor," sewn into the jacket. The armor also needs to be in the right places; for example, shoulder armor should fit over your shoulders, not your biceps, which is another good reason to make sure you select a black leather jacket with the proper fit.
Pockets: Obviously, pockets are a good idea, but making sure they're in the right places is important. Make sure that you have at least one pocket on the inside of the jacket to hold your wallet and other valuables. Outside pockets should have sturdy zippers to secure your items; flaps over the outside zippered pockets are even better. Buying leather motorbike jackets with waterproof pockets is also a smart idea.
Lining: If you plan on using your classic motorcycle jacket year-round, look for one with a removable liner and vents that can be opened and closed. The same jacket that keeps you comfortable in cold weather can bake you like a potato in hot weather, so the more adjustable it is, the better.
Reflective material: In addition, it's a good idea to select a jacket with some reflective material sewn onto it. While you may look great in solid black, it makes you almost invisible at night. Many leather motorbike jackets feature thin white piping down the sleeves and across the back, providing the reflective properties you need without making your jacket look too flashy.