A motorcycle jacket is one of the most important pieces of gear when you’re going out for a ride. Aside from your helmet, boots, and pants, a good-quality motorcycle jacket that fits well is essential. Whether you pick a textile or leather jacket, what matters most is quality, impact, and abrasion protection, and, last but not least, the right fit.
So what to look for when buying a motorcycle jacket? There are several components to it. First off, you’ve got to make sure the jacket offers lots – and we mean, lots – of protection. Look for the CE-approved label to ensure the jacket meets current safety standards, and don’t just go for generic textile or denim. Make sure your jacket is made from tough, abrasion, and burst-resistant materials such as Cordura, Kevlar, or Dyneema, or a blend of all three. Next up, check if your chosen motorcycle jacket has good-quality, well-placed armor in it. Normally, there should be protective pads at your back, elbows, and shoulders.
Finally, you need to know how a motorcycle jacket should fit. Let’s dig a little deeper into the fit and sizing of motorcycle jackets because this is where people often get confused.
First things first: style matters, but safety matters more. That’s why, when it comes to fitting a motorcycle jacket, you need to be as picky as necessary. Don’t go for a jacket that is too big or loose: this is a common mistake riders make when they’re buying a four-season jacket and want to leave some room for warm layers when the weather turns cold. Your motorcycle jacket should not be too big, because the protective armor pads may not sit correctly when the jacket is loose. Equally, it should not be too tight as it may impede your movements when you’re riding.
So, just how tight should a motorcycle jacket fit? It all depends on whether it’s a race, urban, touring, leather, or textile jacket. With race and sports jackets, the fit is typically very snug for increased protection against high-speed crashes. For urban and touring jackets, the fit can be a little looser to provide plenty of room for movement and maximum comfort. If it’s a leather jacket, again, the fit will typically be a little tighter. For textile jackets, though, the fit can vary depending on the style, purpose, and the type of riding you do. Let’s look at this one a little closer.
A textile motorcycle jacket should, first and foremost, feel comfortable and allow for movement. When you’re trying on a textile motorcycle jacket, make sure to sit on a bike while wearing it. See if you can comfortably use the controls, put your feet down, turn your head. Does the jacket feel restrictive, or perhaps a little too loose? Make sure that the fit of your textile motorcycle jacket is cozy, but not too tight, and don’t be tempted to buy a jacket that is too big for those colder months. If the jacket fits right, you’ll easily fit a layer of thermals underneath: there is no need to leave the extra room by buying a bigger size.
When it comes to motorcycle jacket sizing, it can appear a little confusing sometimes. Depending on whether you’re looking at American or European motorcycle jacket sizes, you may come across labels such as “S”, “M”, “L”, and so on, or it could be a numeric size – 48, 50, and so on. How to size a motorcycle jacket, when the sizes vary so greatly? Your best bet would be to use a measuring guide which you’ll find below, then use the manufacturer’s size chart to find the right fit. Keep in mind that motorcycle apparel sizing is typically slightly different from regular clothing, so the fact that you wear “M” size shirts won’t necessarily mean you’ll need a riding jacket in “M”, too.
“How to measure motorcycle jacket size?”, “What size jacket do I need?”, and “what size motorcycle jacket am I?” are some of the most asked questions we get when it comes to riding apparel. As mentioned previously, the way manufacturers choose to size their jackets can be a little puzzling, so your best bet would be to get that measuring tape out. However, we noticed that when you measure yourself, the numbers don’t always add up, and people are sometimes unhappy with their chosen size. So instead of measuring yourself, we’ve got a better idea: take your favorite jacket and measure that. You should measure:
Once you’ve got the measurements, find the gear manufacturers’ size chart – they are usually found online under “size chart” or “size guide” – and see which size would be the best fit. If you’re trying a jacket on at a dealer’s, be sure to sit on a bike to make sure it’s a perfect fit.
This one might seem obvious, but there are a few little things we’d love to touch on before wrapping this up. A motorcycle jacket’s function is to protect you in case of a crash, but you need to protect it so it can do its job. Too often, we see people trying to customize their motorcycle apparel by sticking on patches or pins, but resisting that temptation. For one, if your jacket was meant to be waterproof, you can kiss the functionality of GoreTex goodbye once you pierce the outer layer. Accessorize, by all means, but make sure you’re not messing with the jacket’s seams, protective material, or armor pads. Another rookie mistake is stuffing your pockets when you ride. Get a tank bag instead: in case of a crash, full pockets, especially if they’re stuffed with change and keys, can increase the risk of injury.
And finally, make sure you look after your motorcycle jacket as best as you can – check out this useful post on gear maintenance and cleaning tips to keep your new jacket in great condition.