Biker Chic: The 6 Best Motorcycle Jackets

You can find so-called “biker” jackets all over the place. Designers will throw a few zippers onto black leather and make you think you can take it out on the road. This can easily cost you a layer of skin. Then there’s your cocky friend who will hop on his Ducati wearing a hoodie and sneakers, just asking to get beat up weaving through traffic. Neither option is good, so don’t be the stylish but unprotected guy bleeding by the side of the road or the fool just asking to get hurt out of laziness.

Motorcycle jackets are tough to buy since they are going to work in conjunction with your base layer to offer protection not only from a spill over the handlebars but also from whatever mother nature feels like throwing your way. Striking the balance between comfortable enough to wear, and strong enough to keep all of your blood on the inside is a delicate line to walk that only the 6 best motorcycle jackets can achieve.

Joe Rocket Atomic 4 0

Joe Rocket Atomic 4.0

Pro: Versatile and inexpensive
Con: Terrible zippers

Multi-Season: The Atomic motorcycle jacket has earned its staple stand-by status, and the 4.0 improves on its forefathers with aplomb. It is totally waterproof thanks to the Rock Tex 600 shell for those times when a tour takes a turn for the worse and you find yourself out in the rain. The VariableFlow ventilation system gives you plenty of air movement for hot days, but locks down tight when the clouds roll in, so long as the awful zippers don’t fail. Each piece of integrated armor uses the 6-point SureFit system to grip and grab so that they stay in place and never shift and will be braced for impact if you ever need it. Changing out the armor is easily done, even on the fly since they are externally accessible in case you plan on turning a leisurely jaunt into a serious race. For the money, this is an attractive, safe, and durable piece of hardware that works well for riders of any level. [Purchase: $144]

Dainese Air-Flux Tex

Dainese Air-Flux Tex

Pro: Well ventilated
Con: Minimal protection

Summer Runner: Dainese always works hard to put safety first, but they also put style a close second. The Tex employs a set of extremely durable fabrics from D-Stone to XY Stum in a way that makes the style and protection look effortless while the boomerang mesh is top of the line for ventilation. It has composite shock protection in all of the impact G-spots so taking a tumble isn’t too terrible even though the jacket is light as a feather. The zip pockets are very utilitarian and have plenty of space for your folding pocket knife, multi-tool, phone, and your lucky pink hair tie. The collar, cuff, and waist adjustments work well at either cutting wind out or letting it in. During spring and autumn, when the weather changes every few minutes, this can work as a breathable layer beneath something warmer. Pit vents and a heat dump on the back make it capable of handling even the hottest tours. [Purchase: $160]

Alpinestars Valparaiso

Alpinestars Valparaiso

Pro: Warm and upgradeable
Con: Looks like a winter coat

Winter Wear: Cold and snow are no excuse for putting your bike under a cover until the sun shines again. The Valparaiso comes equipped to deal with the coldest of snaps with a waterproof Drystar liner that can be removed once the frozen months have passed. The sonic quilted sleeve liner helps trap air for added insulation without adding too much bulk to the chassis. Though beefed up for wintertime, there are also vents over mesh gusset for when you need to sink the heat on the inside. Each vent is a large, zippered intake that is angled to catch the wind and direct it comfortably around your body. The shoulders and elbows are tricked out with full CE certified bio-armor while the chest and back have PE padding that can be upgraded if you expect to do some street racing or extreme stunts in your spare time. Accordion inserts at the joints add to comfort and maneuverability while not sacrificing warmth. Just make sure you have a warm pair of motorcycle gloves to complete the ensemble. [Purchase: $430]

Roland Sands Ronin

Roland Sands Ronin

Pro: Armor ready
Con: Strange sizing

Style and Substance: For the rider that wants a weathered look combined with the protection of a racer’s gear, the Ronin delivers in style. The chassis is 1.2mm cowhide that has been washed and waxed for a look that is rugged and timeless. The extended back helps you look good even when you’re hunched down in riding position. In addition to having the look, it comes equipped for any aftermarket armor you can imagine with pockets in the elbows, shoulders, and the back. In order to keep the clean lines, Roland Sands wasn’t able to add chest protection, so make sure you tuck and roll when the pavement comes up to say howdy. If you are thinking of getting one, make sure to have it tailored since the company seems to be making all of their jackets bigger and broader for a wider audience. While this adds warmth, it can also put any armor out of place. [Purchase: $620]

Alpinestars Atem

Alpinestars Atem

Pro: Aerodynamic speed hump
Con: Looks like a track jacket

Track Star: The Atem is made for riders that want a good track jacket that isn’t only for doing laps, but can also make an appearance out on the road without being too tacky. It has its CE certification which makes it mummy and daddums so proud. The leather is 1.3mm that has been reinforced with elbow and shoulder armor and a speed hump on the back to give you less air resistance whether running in circles, running from the law, or just running for the sheer hell of it. The aramidic and accordion stretch panels make the Atem comfortable in just about any situation, but the snug body is intended to help enhance performance and protection for riders who plan on pushing their bike to the limit. Perforated panels improve ventilation while riding without the need to fiddle with a lot of zippers while head down over the track. A security strap helps keep the jacket low in the event of a slide to keep your core from getting torn up. [Purchase: $700]

Belstaff Knockhill

Belstaff Knockhill

Pro: Sleek style
Con: Loose fitting

Retro Recommendation: When you’re ready to get on a classic Triumph or get your legs around a Vincent Black Shadow, then you have the throwback chops to sport the Knockhill motorcycle jacket. The belted look and increased length give it a 60’s or 70’s vibe that is not just groovy, but also good for keeping you warm during the cold riding seasons. This is actually a reboot of the old-school Trialmaster with fine Italian bull grain leather with reinforcement on the shoulders and elbows. The quilted lining can be detached and each cuff loosened for warmer weather, making this a good three season piece of kit. The multitude of large pockets give you plenty of storage for cell phones, road munchies, or ammunition, depending on how hard-core your destination is. [Purchase: $1,195]

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