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Functional Fashion: The Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets

If there’s a piece of apparel most associated with motorcycling, it’s undoubtedly the leather motorcycle jacket. The leather jackets is part of our uniform, but even non-riders search the bins for cowhide when it’s time to dress up for Halloween. No matter what you ride, the best leather motorcycle jackets are versatile enough to look at home nearly anywhere, and on nearly anything. The beauty of the leather jacket is that it will never go out of style, and the more you wear it, the more comfortable it will feel – there’s just something about leather that other materials can’t match. Bountiful and ubiquitous, with seemingly endless options to choose from, it would be impossible for us to feature every single jacket out there. So here, we’ve gathered a small sampling of the best leather motorcycle jackets the market has to offer, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Alpinestars Dyno v2 Jacket

The original Dyno jacket from Alpinestars was one of the first leather jackets the company ever made. It became a best seller, and the updated version 2.0 carries on the tradition. Fully CE-approved, the Dyno v2 is made from supple leather with stretch panels across the chest for greater mobility. Two exterior pockets are paired with a waterproof internal pocket, and snaps at the waist help make for a better fit. CE certified Bio-Armor sits in the shoulder and elbow pockets for impact protection. A modern take on a vintage-ish jacket, the Dyno is classically understated but still has plenty of pop.

Bottom Line/Italian stallion

2. Belstaff Ivy 2.0 Jacket

From the absurdly expensive department comes the Ivy 2.0 from Belstaff. At $1650, it’s the most expensive jacket on this list, and could be useful for showing your SO what a bargain the $500 jacket you really want is, if nothing else. But what does a giant wad of cash get you? In short, extravagance. Bull leather construction from 1.0-1.1mm thick hide, the Ivy 2.0 also gets cotton/viscose lining. The diamond pattern on the shoulders and elbows (along with CE approved armor underneath) is a signature Belstaff feature, while the collar is corduroy-lined, with hardware made from vintage nickel. There are two zippered side pockets and an embroidered logo on the sleeve. Visually, the classic leather jacket look is clearly still there, with the offset zip being a clue to the classic design. The Ivy 2.0 is a little shorter than the version 1.0 to make it better suited for sportier motorcycles.

Bottom Line/Dress to impress

3. Dainese Lola 3 Women's Jacket

Dainese is code for slim-fit Italian fashion and top-notch protection. Iride matte leather, S1 bielastic stretch panels, and Pro-armor impact panels come together in a vintage-inspired ladies’ jacket. A TechFrame internal liner provides increased air circulation on hot days. Safety stitching and reinforced construction help the Lola 3 meets prEN 17092 motorbike protective jacket certification, and there’s a pocket for an optional back protector as well. (For the latest in protection, google up Dainese’s D-Air line of airbag-equipped gear.)

Bottom Line/Safety and bellissima

4. Icon Hypersport 2 Prime Jacket

Icon has a good rep for high quality at reasonable prices, and the Hypersport 2 Prime is at the top end of its performance envelope. Thick, 1.1-1.3mm TracSpec cowhide, designed with strategically sewn accordion leather flex zones, results in Icon’s “Attack Fit,” for high speed work. Your D3O impact protection package handles impact absorption – and an internal waist zipper connects to the matching Hypersport Prime pants. Deep chest pockets double as chest vents. Reinforced perforation zones let the breeze in as needed, and the microfleece-lined collar adds, ah, comfort.

Bottom Line/Good bang for buck

5. Rev’It Vintage Glide Jacket

The REV’IT Glide Vintage Jacket contains modern protection – CE-Rated armor at the shoulders and elbows, with a pocket for an optional back protector – inside an understated, vintage-inspired old-school jacket. MotoGP-inspired, the jacket incorporates a connection zipper to attach to any REV’IT pants. The standard removable sleeveless liner makes this a three-season jacket as well as one that looks great off the bike.

Bottom Line/Euro chic

6. Roland Sands Design Maven Leather Women's Street Motorcycle Jacket

Styled after RSD’s popular Ronin jacket, the Maven is a basic cafe racer style jacket form fitted for the female anatomy. Airbone leather is RSD’s premium cowhide offering. Pre-curved sleeves, relaxed collar and a dropped back are all part of the performance riding fit; an adjustable zip waist and comfort flex panels under the arms are designed to let women further tailor the Maven to their form. Inside, there’s a satin poly lining. If you want impact protection, though, you’ll pay a bit more for armor to fit into the jacket’s shoulder, elbow, and back protector pockets.

Bottom Line/SoCal fashion forward

7. Schott Perfecto Steerhide Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Remember the jacket Marlon Brando wore in The Wild One? This is it. The Original. The Perfecto.  Schott and Brando defined the leather motorcycle genre with this jacket. Constructed from U.S.-sourced drum-dyed, hand-cut, heavyweight 3-3.5 oz. steerhide leather, the Perfecto is the standard by which all other classic American jackets are judged. For example, the offset zipper and slash cut front zip pocket are now iconic, just like the huge back panel design, Other signature touches include the snap-down lapels and attached belt with nickel plated buckle. There’s not actually any armor or padding inside, but for many people, especially ones who don’t ride, that may not be an issue.

Bottom Line/What are you rebelling against today?

8. Spidi Super-R Jacket

With the Spidi Super-R jacket we move away from the old school and into something thoroughly sporty and modern. In place of the Schott’s offset zipper, the Super-R brings offset coloring. The chassis itself is made from full-grain 1.1-1.3mm bovine leather and there’s Spidi’s Warrior Tech external elbow sliders – ostensibly for promoting a slide during a crash, which is likely to happen if you try your best Marquez impression instead. ForceTech armor inserts are included at the elbows and shoulders and an optional Warrior protector can be worn in the back. Flex inserts on the arms give natural range of motion. The Super-R features a full zipper to be used with riding pants, and a snap system to use if you’re wearing riding jeans.

Bottom Line/Italian flair, real-world protection

9. Vanson AR3 Jacket

An iconic American brand, Vanson is known for its leather jackets. Go to the company website and prepare to be bombarded with a variety of different options. The AR3 is Vanson’s first leather jacket, but updated with CE-approved F.A.S. armor at shoulders and elbows, and the ability to accept the optional backpad. The action back segues into a dipped back and kidney panel for a windtight fit. Hardware is brass, zippers are metal. Vanson uses a specially formulated hot wax recipe dating back before WW2 to give it its distinct sheen and look. To quote Vanson, “This is a living material that changes with use and time all the while gaining a fine patina from use.”

Bottom Line/A MO and crowd favorite


Will a leather jacket protect you on a motorcycle?

The short answer is yes. Leather is windproof (though there are perforated versions of many jackets to keep you cool when it’s hot), some kinds of leather are waterproof, and leather is also tough enough to shrug off pebbles, bugs, and other small projectiles. Furthermore, good leather is highly abrasion-resistant, which means it will protect you from the dreaded road rash should you find yourself sliding down the road. Good motorcycle jackets also contain padding in the elbows, shoulders, and back to protect from impacts.

What makes a good leather motorcycle jacket?

Real motorcycle jackets use leather at least 0.8mm thick in impact areas (elbows, back and shoulders). The fewer the seams the better, and the critical ones should all be sewn with heavy-duty thread and top-stitched: ie., the seam is sewn, then folded over and sewn again. High-quality zippers that won’t burst open, particularly the main zipper, are required. And the safest jackets have closed-cell foam armor in the elbows, shoulders, and back, or at least pockets to accept armor.

How should a good motorcycle jacket fit?

It kind of depends. If you’re riding an unfaired motorcycle, or one with no windshield, a nice snug jacket that won’t flap around in the wind is critical. If you’re on a big touring bike with a windshield, a looser-fitting jacket won’t be a problem. Ideally, there’s room under even a snug jacket for at least one insulating layer when it cools off (some jackets come with a thermal liner). On most motorcycles, a jacket with a “drop back,” or a rear section that’s a bit longer, is nice for keeping drafts out of where they don’t belong out back. Sleeves a bit longer than usual are good for reaching forward to handlebars, and an “action back” or sleeves gusseted at the rear, also allow you to more easily reach forward. Lately, air vests are becoming a thing, and some jackets are built to be air vest compatible. The air vest inflates with air to protect the rider’s upper body when it senses a crash.

Additional Resources

MO Tested: Dainese Racing 3 Perf. Leather Jacket And Delta 3 Perf. Leather Pants Review

MO Tested: Spidi Carbo Rider Jacket Review

Best Motorcycle Airbag Jackets

Best Women’s Motorcycle Jackets

Recent Updates

August, 2021: FAQ and Additional Resources added


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