While spending the big bucks on a helmet is typically the first priority for new riders or those who are upgrading their gear, we must not forget the importance of a quality jacket when it comes to rider safety.
Your helmet protects your brain – arguably the most important part of your body – but your jacket needs to be up-to-par to ensure the safety of the other vital organs that keep your body functioning.
With such a huge range of leather jackets available, there is one major issue when selecting a jacket that’s right for you: they all look way too similar. How can we judge which leather jackets are better than others when they all feature leather construction and look about the same? What does a $600 jacket have that my current $300 jacket is missing?
Today, I present you a list of what I have found to be the best leather jackets and split them up into three very important categories: Casual, Sport, and Women’s jackets. I have included options for all pricing categories so riders of all budgets can make sure they are making the right choice when buying a new leather motorcycle jacket in 2020.
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Best Casual Leather Jackets
When it comes to leather motorcycle jackets, you really only get to pick from one of two options… Understated casual jackets for cruising through town or riding to a business meeting, or logo-blasted MotoGP-inspired race jackets designed for maximum protection at high speeds. Here’s what we think are the two best options for casual riders:
The Raider Leather jacket by First Manufacturing is the perfect casual option for riders seeking a stylish jacket that checks both boxes off for protection and style while maintaining features to keep your daily commute pain-free. What makes this such a ‘daily driver’ jacket? There are 16 pockets for functional storage. Anything you could need to stash away on-the-go can be placed into any of the 16 pockets provided. Just make sure you keep track of where things are going, of course.
The jacket features a Diamond cowhide construction for great durability and safety. Leather isn’t typically the most breathable fabric, so for those who naturally run-hot or live in warmer climates you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a removable zip-out liner and ventilation so you can stay comfortable no matter the season.
This jacket may not come with armor pads installed from the get-go, but have no fear, there are pockets in the shoulders, elbows, and back for armor pieces that can be purchased separately. A simply fantastic jacket given the features and price point.
Coming in at just more than double the price of the First Manufacturing Raider jacket listed above, we have the Roland Sands Design Ronin Leather Jacket. Roland Sands is known for great-looking, high-quality jackets with all the features we have come to expect from a high-end jacket manufacturer. The RSD Ronin looks like a cafe-race-style motorcycle was turned into a jacket. You can find 1mm thick cowhide construction around the entire jacket that has been finished and waxed for maximum comfort.
The arms are pre-curved which is a great feature knowing that you will be posted-up on your motorcycle the majority of the time while you’re wearing this garment. Unfortunately, taking into account the cost of the jacket it is slightly disappointing to see that it also doesn’t come with armor, but RSD has partnered with Forcefield and has spots for all kinds of D30 armor goodness that can be purchased separately.
The jacket comes in black and brown.
Best Sport Leather Jackets
If you’re a certified ‘Street Rossi’ or spend most of your time on the saddle at a speed faster than 150mph, a casual leather jacket just isn’t going to cut it regarding your safety when spending a day at the track or heading to the mountains to shred up some twisties. Here are some of the top sport-oriented leather jackets available in 2020:
The Alpinestars GP Pro V2 is bar-none the safest jacket on this list. The jacket was fully designed with Alpinestars’ Tech Air Airbag systems in mind, providing riders with the option to integrate the Tech Air system straight into the jacket making it the perfect option for riders who like to race on the edge.
The construction features full-grain 1.3mm premium leather, Alpinestars’ Dynamic Friction Shield protectors in the elbows and shoulders, and a snap system for an additional CE level 2-certified Nucleon Back and Chest Protectors to be added on the fly.
If you’ve ever watched a MotoGP race, I’m sure you have seen ‘the hump’. This hump functions as a guide for the air passing off your helmet to seamlessly meet your back for maximum aerodynamic streamlining. The jacket comes in both black/white and another colorway with some red accents thrown into the mix.
$1300 for your protection only. Dainese is the Ferrari of the racing-gear world and has been manufacturing awesome gear for years. Nobody complains about the cost of a Ferrari, because typically with high-end stuff you’re getting what you pay for. The Dainese Racing 3 D-Air Perforated Leather Jacket is the pinnacle of performance racewear. Much like the Alpinestars GP Pro V2, this jacket has the option for a full airbag safety system. Technically, it’s not an option because the system is seamlessly integrated into the jacket, hence the hefty price tag.
The D-Air airbag system requires a full maintenance overhaul every 5 years (the cost is on the owner, not Dainese) to ensure that it’s armed and ready to save your life on the racetrack. The jacket is jam-packed with sensors and features a GPS to gather data in the event of a crash, which will inflate the airbag to protect your neck and chest area.
Beyond the safety system, you can find EN 1621.1 Level 2 standard body armor on the shoulders and elbows. The jacket breaths well and has a few pockets; but probably isn’t your best option if you’re looking for a jacket suited for daily commuting.
Best Women’s Leather Jackets
Many manufacturers today are finally providing women’s options for their best selling motorcycle jackets. We have a few picks here, but see our sister site webBikeWorld for a much more expansive list of ladies motorcycle jackets.
Here are the best low and high priced leather jackets for our formidable lady-riders in 2020:
The Street & Steel Athena Women’s Jacket is a great entry-level option for women looking for a classy riding jacket that can be worn both on and off the motorcycle. The natural drum dried leather core makes this jacket robust and Street & Steel takes it a step further with the introduction of CE rated armor protectors on the shoulders and elbows. This jacket won’t come with a back protector off the rack though, but there is a pocket that allows for users to add their own armor sold separately.
The torso has perforated panels for increased airflow (not a strong suit of leather), and a mesh lining to keep this jacket breathing in the wind.
Are you a motorcycle-riding, gun-wielding badass chick? Well, this jacket features a pocket to keep your concealed weapon and ammo close to you at all times. BAM. You read it correctly; this jacket actually has a dedicated pocket for riders who require firearms storage while on the go. That, and granola bars.
This is essentially the women’s version of the RSD Ronin we covered in the men’s casual section of this list. It comes in both Black and Oxblood colors and is built with Blackstone supper top grain cowhide ranging from 0.8mm to 0.9mm thicknesses for a quality feel that cannot be topped. Just like the Ronon, the armor is sold separately but the jacket still has shoulder, elbow, and back pockets ready for D30 to be dropped in for extra protection.