Kit: How to choose a leather jacket

Published: 19 August 2009

It doesn’t matter what we say here – most motorcyclists, if they’re being honest, will choose something that looks good. And why not?

However, beyond aesthetics, there are a few other things to bear in mind when you’re shopping for your first leather jacket. 

1. Make sure it fits
Sounds obvious, but it’s quite easy to get wrong. You have to remember that you’re buying this jacket, first and foremost, to protect you should you ever have the misfortune to come off your bike. Make sure it’s a snug fit with your usual clothes worn underneath. The arms should not be pinched at any point, neither should you be struggling for breath with the tightness of it all. What’s important to remember is that the leather in your jacket will ‘give’ slightly with use, the best jackets becoming almost like a second skin, forming to your own unique contours.

2. Look for armour
CE-approved armour is often present in leather jacket; its purpose is to absorb some initial shock from a crash and to reduce the chances of skin and tissue damage from abrasion if you find yourself sliding down the road. Check that none of the armour digs into you when you move your arms. If it annoys you in the showroom, it’s sure as hell going to get on your wick on the open road.

3. Check the stitching
Overlaid or triple stitching at the seams is less likely to burst open on impact.

4. Check the number of panels
Similarly to the point on stitching (above), the more different panels of leather that make up your jacket, the more chance there is of one of them bursting at the seams when presented with a shock.

5. Check for zips
Most leather jackets these days have a full length (or at least half-length) zip running along the circumference of the waist area. This is to allow you to zip it to a pair of leather trousers. If you’re buying both at the same time, make sure the pair of garments have compatible zips. If you’re buying both from the same manafacturer, they’re odds-on to be a perfect match. But do try them on together, all the same.

6. Buy the right jacket for your bike
Some more sportier jackets are cut into a ‘race crouch’ position, with pre-curved arms and seams. If your bike has an upright riding position, you’ll be crippled by this kind of jacket. If you can, ask the salesperson if you can sit on your bike (if you have it with you) with the jacket on.

7. Try as many as you can
Different manufacturers’ jackets seem to fit different sized people. And, as we’re not talking about pocket money here, it makes sound financial sense to make sure you’re buying something that fits, looks good and is going to protect you when you need it to.

Further reading:
Get the right kit

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  • There are a few things to think about besides style when you buy your first bike jacket..