The Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets [For Protection] In 2018

Looking for the best leather motorcycle jackets on the market? Our 5-minute guide has got everything you need to know to make a purchase (and to save money).

Confused about which are the best leather motorcycle jackets in 2018? No problem. This 5-minute review has everything you need to know.

And, this guide doesn’t just focus on leather motorcycle jackets that look cool. We’ll be focusing on the best brands that offer:

  • Outright protection through built-in armor
  • Comfort
  • Breathability

Whether you’re looking to ride track days in hot weather, or a beginner riding in winter, these are the jackets you want to be looking at.

The Big Debate: Leather Vs Textiles

But first…

There’s always going to be a big debate when it comes to deciding on whether to buy leather or textile motorcycle gear.

99% of the time, leather motorcycle jackets (and pants, for that matter) are going to offer more outright protection than the textile equivalent.

In fact, if you’re planning to take your bike on a track day, it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed to wear textile motorcycle gear. If track day professionals are forcing riders to wear leathers, that’s kinda’ telling us something.

So, why do people wear textiles, if leather is safer?

New Technology

The gap in terms of protection when it comes to leathers vs textiles used to be huge. But, that gap is quickly closing. Motorcycle jacket brands know that a lot of people like the look and feel of textiles, but want the protection of leathers. 

So, these brands are now focusing on producing something that’s a middle-ground.

A perfect example of this would be jackets using 600 denier poly-fabric. Sure, it’s not proven and tested to be as strong as leather, but it’s getting close, and it’s certainly stronger than the average textile.

One of the most popular motorcycle jackets using 600 denier poly-fabric is the Alpinestars T-Viper Air (which looks ABSOLUTELY awesome, by the way). But, there’s another bonus…

Leather is expensive. By buying motorcycle jackets like the T-Viper Air that use materials such as 600 denier poly-fabric, you’re saving a ton of cash. Consider the fact that an Alpinestars leather motorcycle jacket is going to put a $400+ dent in your bank account.

The T-Viper Air made from 600 denier poly-fabric? You’re looking at around half that. And, there’s plenty of similar jackets under $200.

Practicality

Not everyone uses a street bike for pleasure only. In fact, not everyone owns a street bike. If you’re planning on touring, travelling, adventure riding, ride supermoto, or are driving just a few km to work, there’s a good chance you’re going to like the practicality of textiles.

Essentially, if you’re looking at riding in a range of weather conditions rather than perfect warm weather and clear roads, there’s a good chance you’re heading towards textiles or hybrid motorcycle gear (a mix of textiles and leather).

Besides the fact that textiles are comfortable, you’ll be able to carry more thanks to additional utility pockets, and even save time when putting on your gear; leathers are notoriously difficult to put on!

Are Leather Motorcycle Jackets Or Textiles The Best?

For all-out protection; leather.

For all-out practicality; textiles.

Leather Motorcycle Jacket Brands

If you’ve already started researching leather jackets for riding, you’ll have noticed there are quality (but sometimes, more expensive) brands like Alpinestars. But, you can pick up cheap motorcycle jackets from lesser known brands, for much less.

The question is, should you?

It’s rare I spend more cash than I should. But, I always head for the higher-end leather motorcycle jacket brands. And, that’s just because I’ve found they last a lot longer than the cheap brands online.

And, protection is the number one priority when you’re riding. If you want to take the risk of skidding down the road in a jacket that’s untested, from a brand you’ve probably never heard of to save a few $, I won’t judge…

But, even if you don’t like the specific leather jackets covered below, you should be purchasing yours from one of the brands in this list.

The Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket Brands

  1. Alpinestars
  2. Dainese
  3. Joe Rocket
  4. Richa
  5. RST
  6. Spidi
  7. Weise

The Best Leather Motorcycle Jackets In 2018

So, here are our top picks for the best leather motorcycle jackets in 2018.

Joe Rocket Syndicate

Our Pick For: The Best Hybrid Leather/Textile Motorcycle Jacket 

If you’ve ever ridden in a leather jacket, you’ll know they can get really-hot, really-quick. Typically, if you’re not spending $400, the R&D just isn’t there to provide all-out ventilation, alongside the protection you need in a crash.

The answer? A hybrid motorcycle jacket. These have become incredibly popular, not because they just look cool either.

A hybrid like the Joe Rocket Syndicate combines the protection needed (from leather) with the breathability we all need on those warm days (nylon).

That means you get a jacket that looks cool, breathes well, but offers plenty of protection too.

Protection

When you eventually do need to rely on your jacket’s protection in a crash, there are only a few points of contact that need to be reinforced. Typically, that’s going to be the shoulders and elbows. So, why have a full-on leather motorcycle jacket? Technically, you don’t need one.

As you can see, the Joe Rocket offers plenty of protection in the key areas. And that protection comes in the form of 1.2mm leather.

That leather reinforcement is backed up by C.E. approved armor that’s incorporated into the elbow and shoulder area. And again, you’ll get additional protection in the from the C.E. approved spine protector.

Hybrid Materials

So, are the areas not covered in leather leaving you exposed? Absolutely not.

The Joe Rocket Syndicate uses a high tenacity nylon. Basically, if you make contact with the road with these points on the jacket, you’re still going to be protected.

Admittedly, not as much as you would be with leather, but still more than you would be compared with many of the cheap textile motorcycle jackets on the market.

Ventilation

And, it’s this nylon that helps to improve the breathability of the Joe Rocket Syndicate in comparison to a normal leather motorcycle jacket.

It’s fully flexible, with a snug but comfortable fit, incorporating an insulated but breathable liner.

Pockets

There’s plenty of storage with the Joe Rocket Syndicate. You’ll get your typical exterior hand pockets (x2) and utility pockets on the interior of the jacket (x3)

Zips

Let’s face it, most jackets get junked after a year or two because the zips…SUCK!

Joe Rocket don’t make their own zips. Instead, they import them from YKK. This is a company that specializes in making zips, and many of the best motorcycle jacket brands in the world use YKK.

Online Reviews

The Joe Rocket reviews online are exceptionally positive, and much better than many other jackets at this price point, so they’re worth checking out.

Who Should Buy The Joe Rocket Syndicate?

If you want something that looks cool, is breathable, but still offers the protection of a full-on leather motorcycle jacket, the Joe Rocket Syndicate is for you.

It’s certainly not the cheapest motorcycle jacket on the market, but it’s around $100 cheaper compared with the equivalent leather jackets from top brands such as Dainese and Alpinestars.

Buy The Syndicate On Amazon  

Joe Rocket Speedmaster

Our Pick For: The Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket For Protection 

Not happy with any compromise when it comes to jacket protection? You need a full leather jacket, not a hybrid.

And, our top pick is the Joe Rocket Speedmaster.

Protection

Like the hybrid from Joe Rocket, you’ll get 1.2mm-1.4mm leather throughout. And, that’s going to give you the protection you need, if you do ever fall off your bike.

There’s a lot more focus on durability and protection here than with the Syndicate jacket, and a ton more shoulder support. That comes in the form of reinforcement that’s created using titanium.

That additional armor in the shoulder, as well as the removable spine protector, are both C.E. approved.

Comfort

But, the Joe Rocket Speedmaster isn’t just about protection. They’ve focused on making sure that this is one of the most comfortable motorcycle jackets on the market. Using their SureFit system, you’ve got the adjustment on offer to make this jacket fit you perfectly.

There are six points of adjustment that are set in the sleeve, wrist and waist area. So, whether you’re a big guy or need a slim-fit, you’ll be able to adjust this to suit you perfectly.

Online Reviews

Like the Syndicate, the reviews for the Speedmaster are extremely positive. That said, it doesn’t have the volume of online reviews that their most popular Classi ’92 jacket has.

Who Should Buy The Joe Rocket Speedmaster?

If you’re looking for a cool motorcycle jacket, the Syndicate is my top pick. But, what if you want something that looks cool, but doesn’t compromise protection in any, way, shape or form?

That’s where the Speedmaster comes in.

The Speedmaster is the best leather motorcycle jacket for protection.

Buy The Speedmaster On Amazon  

What’s Next?

Thanks for reading our 5-minute review covering the differences between textiles and leather (from a protection and practicality stand point), and the best leather motorcycle jackets on the market.

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Written by
Grant Draper

Grant's a motorcycle geek, outdoor enthusiast & confirmed racing nut. He road tests all the gear he buys, and then gives his feedback here on NoobNorm.

He also details any quick fixes he stumbles upon, whether that's to stop brakes on motorcycles sticking, or unusual noises coming from gaming wheels.

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Written by Grant Draper