Best Men's Motorcycle Jackets

Updated October 2020
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

54 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
175 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best men’s motorcycle jackets

Men’s motorcycle jackets have been around since the 1920s, but they really took off when World War II pilots started wearing their flight jackets when riding their bikes. The classic leather jacket was popularized by Marlon Brando in the film The Wild One, in 1953. It’s such an iconic item that there’s even one hanging in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Today, you can still buy similarly styled bike gear, but there are a whole host of different styles and numerous modern materials. These jackets offer far superior levels of comfort and protection for today’s rider, which is great in terms of the variety but can make picking the right one a bit challenging!

We’ve been looking at hundreds of different men’s motorcycle jackets, picking out the important features so we can help you decide on the best one for the way you ride. Our recommendations underline the tremendous choice you have in design, performance, and price. In our buying guide, we delve into the details, so you have all the information you need when you’re ready to buy.

It can be awkward to work jacket zippers with your gloves on. If you tie a few inches of leather bootlace to the pull, you have something easier to grab.

Key considerations

The main reason to buy a motorcycle jacket is for protection in the event of an accident. However, most jackets are worn casually as well as on the bike, so personal taste is an important consideration. Fortunately, you don’t have to compromise safety for style. However, the level of protection offered can vary, so it’s useful to look at the design and material combinations generally available.

Traditional

The traditional leather motorcycle jacket, also known as the cruiser style, can be seen on everyone from pop stars to politicians. Cheap versions are made in faux leather, basically a type of polyester, but provide insufficient abrasion resistance for use on a bike. The same is true of calfskin and kid. Napa leather is common (it’s made from adult goats or sheep) and offers good value, but cowhide and buffalo hide are among the toughest. Kangaroo hide is even more resilient, but its cost means it’s usually only found in very expensive racing gear.

The only real drawback with this kind of jacket is that it doesn’t make any provision for armor, although you could wear a separate back protector underneath the jacket.

Street- and race-style

Street- and race-style motorcycle jackets are more streamlined, usually with a zipper that runs straight up the middle of the front and a band around the neck that closes with a popper or buckle. These can be leather or textile/mesh and are frequently a mix of fabrics. They often have stretch panels in the sides and underarms, allowing them to fit more tightly than traditional motorcycle jackets without restricting movement, a key factor for owners of sport bikes who tend to have a more active riding style.

Leather jackets offer unbeatable abrasion resistance in the event of an accident, but anybody who has ridden through a hot summer knows they can get quite uncomfortable. Some jackets have a removable quilted liner, but it’s not a common feature.

Fabric jackets have the advantage there. Modern Cordura/nylon composites can be very tough, and may have Kevlar added, which is light and immensely strong. Mesh construction offers breathability, and one-way membranes let perspiration out without letting moisture in. The addition of features like Gore-Tex and D-Dry can make them highly waterproof, too.

What’s more, this style of men’s motorcycle jacket often comes with armor as an integral part of the design — sometimes it’s built in. The problem is that it adds a stiffness and odd shape that’s fine on the bike but not great for casual wear. The solution is special pockets, so the armor can be removed when you’re not riding.

Adventure

Adventure, dual sport, and off-road motorcycle jackets are usually made of textile, again providing breathability for active riders. They generally offer good levels of weather protection, and some have the facility to add thermal liners, ideal for those who ride in extreme temperatures. Others might be extremely heavily armored, looking like something out of a science fiction film, to cope with the hazards of fast desert riding, for example.

Did you know?
Lots of different animals can be used to create leather. Goat and sheep leathers are strong and supple, but traditional cowhide, buffalo, and — perhaps surprisingly, kangaroo — are the toughest.
STAFF
BestReviews

Features

Fit

Fit is obviously important, but it involves more than just overall size. Even in fairly mild weather, a draft soon gets uncomfortable, so you need adequate stretch or adjustability at the cuffs, collar, and particularly the waist. It’s very annoying if your jacket rides up every time you get on the bike! Elasticized panels are an efficient solution, but zippers and buckles may be more appropriate to particular styles. The main thing is to make sure they work!

Pockets

Pockets are sometimes overlooked. Many jackets only have a couple, and an inside pocket (very useful for documents) is often not provided. On the other hand, there are “cop” styles that offer not only several outside pockets but also the facility to carry a concealed weapon and ammunition on the inside. Adventure jackets also tend to offer plenty of pockets.

Color

Textile/mesh jackets are easy to dye and offer lots of choices when it comes to color. It not only allows you to match your jacket to your bike, but it also provides added visibility, alerting others on the road to your presence. Even some black leather jackets incorporate subtle reflective patches.

Caution
Beware of fashion leather jackets. They might look similar to a proper men’s motorcycle jacket, but they don’t offer the same level of abrasion resistance. Lamb and calfskin are very comfortable, but they won’t protect your hide!
STAFF
BestReviews

Men’s motorcycle jacket prices

Inexpensive: There are lots of cheap men’s motorcycle jackets available, and if you’re just looking for a fashion item, you might only pay $50 or $60. If you’re looking for something that provides more safety on your bike, you’ll rarely pay less than $100.

Mid-range: Between $100 and $200 there’s huge choice, in all styles and from many of the top brands. Whatever your taste and riding style, you’ll likely find what you need in this bracket.

Expensive: Top European makers use high-cost materials (particularly Italian leather), and the construction can be remarkably complex. The results are undoubtedly some of the best men’s motorcycle jackets in the world, but prices often top $300 and can go as high as $600.

Caring for your motorcycle jacket

A leather men’s motorcycle jacket can last a lifetime, and most people think they actually improve with age.

A lot of the time you can just get by with hanging up your jacket, but the use of a leather treatment or conditioner can prolong its life. However, it’s important to check manufacturer suggestions in case a treatment has already been applied. A clash of chemicals is unlikely, but it can happen.

If your jacket gets wet, just let it dry naturally. Never hang it over a radiator or heater or the leather will crack.

Jacket textiles are increasingly varied, so it’s very much a question of following the maker’s instructions. Many jackets are washable, and some have liners that can be removed and tossed in the machine. Don’t just assume it’s machine washable, though.

There is currently no U.S. standard for motorcycle jacket armor. The best carry the European CE standard instead. CE Level 1 is good, but CE Level 2 absorbs twice the impact force.

FAQ

Q. Which is tougher: mesh or leather?
A.
This is an ongoing debate! The challenge is that material technologies change all the time. A quality men’s leather motorcycle jacket is always hard to beat, but multi-compound mesh jackets are constantly improving. Then along comes kangaroo leather, a fairly recent introduction, which offers even higher abrasion and tear resistance than cowhide. So, the needle swings from one to the other. If there’s a deciding factor at the moment, it’s perhaps that a leather jacket could still be wearable after a slide down the road. A mesh jacket would protect you, but it might well be damaged beyond repair in the event of a spill.
 

Q. How accurate is jacket sizing from online stores?
A.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty variable, but it’s not really fair to blame the store. As with any clothing, one manufacturer's medium might be another maker’s large! Check any provided charts and measurements carefully, and look at customer feedback. It will often tell you if buyers found the jacket larger or smaller than expected. Finally, make sure you can send the jacket back if it doesn’t fit properly, and do so within the time allowed!
 

Q. What is nubuck?
A.
It’s a suede-like leather made with cowhide (so heavy-duty nubuck is very strong) that’s sanded to produce short, raised fibers called a “nap.” With nubuck, the outside of the hide is treated so it’s tougher than suede (which treats the inside). Nubuck may also be waxed or otherwise treated so the nap is much less apparent. It’s more commonly a fashion material, but you can find high-quality men’s motorcycle jackets made from nubuck.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey

Our Top Picks