Contrary to popular myths, motorcycle jackets have a lot more functionality and technical features than just chains and black leather. You might save a few bucks by choosing a fashion brand hoodie or jacket when you ride, but those garments are missing a lot of critical features and functions that you'll most definitely need when you ride a bike.
Purpose built riding jackets are not only designed to keep you comfortable for hours and hours of riding, they are also designed with specific safety features to keep critical body parts protected in the unfortunate event of a crash.
There is a popular biker saying about spills and crashes – “It’s never a question of IF, it’s always a question of WHEN”.
Investing in a proper riding jacket therefore is most certainly well worth the avoidance of injuries and road rashes.
Motorcycle jackets are also specially designed with the climate in mind while riding. For example, jackets made for cooler weather have insulating layers and wind blocking features that can help cut down the effects of speeding through cold air.
Styles of Riding Jackets
The simplest way to help you navigate through the wide variety of choices available to a rider, is to divide the available choices along two axes:
First axis is according to type of climate, to keep you:
Many jackets may be designed for multi climate use – for example all weather or three season jackets.
The second axis is based on the choice of your riding style:
e.A hybrid of any of the above
So your ultimate choice can be a combination based on any of the above variables.
Advanced safety features in a motorcycle jacket are the biggest differentiator between a proper motorcycle jacket and the kind one can buy in a fashion store. One can say, that part of the cost differential between a riding jacket and a fashion jacket is also due to this reason.
Motorcycle jackets from renowned brands will most definitely feature armor, specialised abrasion resistant fabric or specially treated leather, purpose tailored fit and stress resistant seams and stitching. In many cases, these are built from advanced proprietary materials to protect from unwanted impact; the most common places for motorcycle jackets to be reinforced with armor are in the elbows, shoulders and back.
Reinforcement can vary depending on the jacket. For example, All REV'IT! jackets come standard equipped with CE-rated limb protection. Depending on the use these can be of the essential CE-level 1 or the premium CE-level 2. This means that the energy that still passes through after an impact test needs to be less than 35KN (CE-level 1) or even less than 20KN (CE-level 2). The lesser energy passes through a protector, the lesser impact energy had to be dealt with by the human body.
Back protectors are tested in a similar way, with a maximum of 18KN of residual energy earning the essential CE-level 1, and 9KN earning the premium CE-level 2.
Many riders prefer to invest in a high quality back protector of their choice and install it themselves in such a purpose built jacket.
Image: The SEESOFT™ CE-Level 2 back protector insert is designed to absorb variable impacts without compromising on comfort, ventilation or freedom of movement. The highly impact-resistant blend of Nitrille and Polynorbornene rubber results in a memory foam that is multi-impact rated and CE certified to the highest level (EN 1621-2:2003 - level 2).
In the case of severe angular impact, the individual Memory foam layers of a REV'IT! CE-Level 2 back protector will shift relative to one another, resulting in impact dispersion over a larger effective surface area, and therefore minimizing the energy that is transmitted to the spine and back.
Image: The dual-comp protector in Revit jackets meant for sports or track use consists of a 3D, pre-shaped honeycomb structure of TPU material, topped by a high-impact aluminum shield for ultimate sliding performance.
Finally, one last safety aspect is the use of industrial grade reflective materials in critical areas of the jacket. An all black leather jacket may look cool, but the color of the material will make you much harder to see in the dark. There is a definite trend amongst seasoned bikers to choose a jacket with Hi-Vis safety options. Fpr more on this topic, refer to our blog article – “How To Be A Visible Biker”
The Recommended Fit
How well your jacket fits you plays a big part in safety as well as comfort during a ride. Shoulder pads won't do you any good if they're hanging down by your biceps and elbow armour won't work if you can twist around to the sides of your arms.
Image: The Rev'it! Airforce Jacket gives full ventilation without sacrificing sporty looks. PWR shell mesh and highly abrasion-resistant textile construction keeps the rider protected together with the assistance of CE-rated Knox Flexiform armor
It's important to make sure that your jacket fits you well when you're sitting on your bike as well as when you're standing. Depending on the type of bike you have, you'll need to keep in mind how far you will be leaning forward in your riding stance, and give yourself enough room in your jacket to do so. A loose collar or cuff will flap around if it is not secured properly and can also increase helmet noise and let in cold air during winters.
Image: The REV’IT! Redhook jacket is designed to match the style and sensibility of vintage motorcycle enthusiasts. The jacket comes with pre-curved sleeves and padded shoulders. It is made of high quality leather.
When it comes to choosing a riding jacket, remember that bigger is not better and all that armour will only work if it fits snugly around the area it is supposed to protect!
Do share your thoughts about this article and let us know your thoughts about choosing the perfect riding jacket!