Your web browser is out of date

This website has been developed using modern web technologies. The web browser you're currently using is outdated and may not support such technologies and as such your experience on this website may be degraded.

See your options

Your Motorcycle Jacket: How to Choose the Best One for UK Riding

Vic Womersley March 2, 2023

Your motorcycle jacket is almost as important as your helmet. The protection it provides, along with comfort, can give you more enjoyment and confidence on the road. When choosing your motorcycle jacket, it’s important to consider protection, visibility, comfort and style. In that order.

While there’s no law stating you have to wear motorcycle gear when riding on UK roads, it is wise to do so. Only helmets are compulsory in the UK. All other gear is optional. But your motorcycle jacket isn’t just about keeping you safe. It keeps you warm and dry. It stops the wind from turning you into a shivering icicle at high speeds. Everyday street jackets won’t do that.

The different types of motorcycle jackets

The ideal motorbike jacket is sturdy and comfortable, made with materials that offer protection from weather and impact. It should have additional padding and armour in key areas such as elbows and shoulders. Some styles also have space for inserting armour protection for your spine and coccyx. Consider the type of riding you do along with the climate of where you live before you invest. It may be worth investing in a summer and a winter jacket. Other motorcycle clothing is also wise, but today, let’s take a close look at the motorcycle jacket.

Textile jackets

Engineered fabric systems are popular for motorbike jackets because the multi-layers provide insulation in cold or wet weather. Synthetic fibres are arguably stronger than animal hides too. Some textile jackets have clever airflow design that lets heat escape when worn in warmer seasons.

Kevlar is a popular thread used in motorcycle jackets. It’s synthetic and strengthens fabrics against wear, abrasion and tears. It’s usually mixed with other fibres because it tends to be inflexible and doesn’t stretch. The other fibres provide a better level of comfort.

Man-made textiles for motorcycle jackets often have more ventilation.

Cordura is another manmade fibre often used in motorcycle gear. It was originally made for the military and has excellent heat-resistant properties. It’s been around for over 70 years and many motorcycle suits for racing are made with this thread. It’s lighter than leather and cooler too.

A more recent invention, Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWP), is the “space age” fabric used for motorcycle jackets. 15 times stronger than steel, flexible enough to wear and lighter than leather, UHMWP really seems to have it all. It’s not quite as heat resistant as cordura or kevlar, but 50% or more woven into a textile motorcycle jacket will make it almost impossible for your jacket to be cut or ripped should you fall.

The classic leather motorbike jacket

Available in almost any conceivable colour and style, a leather motorbike jacket is classic. Full-grain leather provides the best protection. It’s less likely to tear or rip if the worst happens and it should come with padding on shoulders and elbows to boost protection in those critical areas.

Although full-grain leather is the safest material for a motorbike jacket, it’s also heavy and baking hot in summer. Synthetic motorcycle jackets are usually lighter and have better ventilation.

Man wearing a leather motorbike jacket
The classic leather motorcycle jacket

Are motorcycle leathers waterproof?

Motorcycle leathers are typically waterproof, but it depends on the specific motorbike jacket you choose. Look for jackets that are made out of cowhide with water or weather-resistant coatings. A leather motorbike jacket should keep you dry and comfortable even in wet conditions.

Higher-grade motorcycle jackets come with a range of additional features such as zipped waterproof pockets, ventilation zips and thermal liners to keep you cosy in colder months.

Airbag jackets

Cars have them, so why shouldn’t riders benefit from the same technology? Airbag jackets come to us from the world of motorcycle racing. They’re great if you regularly ride fast, on a track, or just want the best protection. They come in a wide range of styles and there’s no sign of the hidden airbags – until you need them.

A motorcycle jacket for summer

The usual motorcycle jacket tends to be warm enough for riding in, but when we get our two-minute British summer, it can be a bit too warm. Rather than ride without protection and risk losing a good percentage of your body’s biggest organ, a summer jacket can be a great investment.

A jacket for warmer weather makes riding comfortable without sacrificing safety.

Armoured shirts and light jackets offer protection for riding in warmer temperatures. They’re lightweight, breathable and impact resistant too. Planet Knox has a range that’s worth checking out if you ride a lot in summer feeling like one of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. It’s not worth investing in one as your main jacket as you’ll be too cold in the usual UK temperatures.

How to choose the right motorcycle jacket

Choosing the right motorbike jacket can be an exciting experience, and you need to balance safety with comfort. There are several important features to look for when deciding which motorbike jacket is right for your needs.

First, it’s essential to consider comfort and fit. Make sure that your motorbike jacket is appropriately sized so that it fits snugly, but isn’t going to be too tight or restrict any movement while riding. Armour protection in the form of impact-absorbing pads should be integrated into the jacket for optimal safety.

Look for adjustable features like drawstrings, zips and Velcro straps so you can adjust for comfort and different conditions on the road. Don’t forget to look at pockets too! Different motorbike jackets can offer more pocket selections than others – making it easier to carry a few necessities such as money, maps or snacks.

Last but not least, breathability and water resistance should also be taken into account as these will help make wearing the motorbike jacket more comfortable.

Motorcycle jacket safety features

Motorcycle jackets are an essential piece of safety clothing. While they cannot completely prevent injuries in the event of an accident, they do have protective features that minimize them. Look for jackets with armour in critical areas like elbows, shoulders, and torso.

Breathable, abrasion-resistant material will reduce wind drag and heat buildup. It may not feel like a big protective benefit in the shop but it will when you’re on the road. Reflective patches or stripes improve your visibility on the road day or night and are definitely worth having.

How to take care of your motorcycle jacket

Taking care of your motorbike jacket is important if you want it to look great and last for years. They are expensive pieces of kit, so it pays to be mindful of them. Make sure that you clean the exterior of the jacket regularly with a damp cloth, regardless of which material you chose.

You should regularly treat leather jackets with water-repellent or leather protectors to keep them supple and waterproof in winter. Finally, If your motorbike jacket comes equipped with a liner, make sure to air it out when possible after long rides. This helps it keep its shape and quality as well as stop inclement weather from seeping in – not to mention preventing nasty smells.

Once you’ve learned to ride, getting the right gear will improve your enjoyment and safety. Take the time to choose the right gear for the kind of riding you do. And never skimp on your safety, it’s just not worth it.


Get more from our blog