Along with your motorcycle helmet, a decent motorcycle jacket is likely to be one of the most expensive items in your riding gear garb. What defines a good motorcycle jacket is a topic that’s up for debate. For us, it’s one that takes safety seriously, tackles the elements with ease, and is effortlessly stylish in any situation.If you’re looking to invest your hard-earned in a quality motorcycle jacket, here are a few of our top picks to consider.
Best Casual Motorcycle Jacket: Merlin Axe Riding Shirt
Technnically the Merlin Axe Riding Shirt isn’t a jacket. It’s more akin to a flannel shirt, but no flannel shirt you’ll find at a fashion store will offer this level of protection.
Effortlessly cool and casual the Merlin Axe Shirt disguises its protective qualities under a classic checkered flannel exterior. Hidden beneath the flannel is a tough as old boots (probably tougher) layer of 220gsm DuPont Kevlar. Running the entire length of the torso and along each sleeve, the Kevlar provides rugged 360-degree abrasion resistance. In order to hold things together all of the Axe’s seams are double stitched and the shirts snap stud front closure covers a hidden YKK zipper.
Merlin provides additional accident protection for the Axe Riding Shirt in the form of removable CE Level 1 armour. Included in the purchase price are shoulder and elbow armour and there’s a pocket in the rear for an optional back protector.
Unlike regular flannel shirts, the Axe Riding Shirt also includes several rider-centric features. These include a snap-down collar to prevent uncomfortable neck whips at high speed, internal storage pockets and a smart jacket-to-jeans zipper.
RRP: $179 USD
Best Winter Motorcycle Jacket: Icon PDX3 WP
In Icon’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, an average year consists of around 164 rainy days. As a percentage that’s close to 45% of the year. It’s enough to make any fair-weather rider hang up their helmet for good, but for diehards like the Icon crew, a little bit of rain isn’t going to spoil their fun. As you’d expect from a riding gear brand situated in such a wet climate, Icon makes some very good wet weather gear and the PDX3 textile jacket is the embodiment of their comprehensive approach.
Effortlessly doubling as streetwear, the hooded PDX3 jacket has a relaxed, urban wear fit and comes in 4 colourways of black, olive green, grey and a blue/black camo. The jacket’s steadfast waterproofing can be attributed to Icon’s use of a Hycor chassis. The waterproof and breathable fabric is a staple of their wet weather gear range and it quite literally sheds water like a duck’s back. For added protection against the elements all of the PDX3 jacket’s seams are taped and the main zip closure is backed by a waterproof drainage channel.
Since most rainy days are accompanied by cold weather, the PDX3 comes with a removable thermal liner and cinch straps on the arms and cuffs to keep the chill out. Conversely, to extend the PDX3 jacket’s use into warmer months, vents in the armpits can be opened to keep you cool.
Boasting a Class A EN 17092 safety rating the PDX3 jacket will also keep you safe. Stashed away inside the jacket’s lining is removable D30 armour on the shoulders, elbows and back, and best of all, it’s all included in a very modest purchase price.
RRP: $215 USD
Best Summer Motorcycle Jacket: Rev’it! Eclipse 2
In hotter climates, it’s common to see riders risking their skin to stay cool. Personally, I’m an ATGATT kind of guy so season-specific riding gear is a must. This of course means spending more money on gear, but thanks to brands like Rev’it! there are some affordable options that don’t skimp on safety.
The Rev’it! Eclipse 2 jacket is the latest iteration of the brand’s entry-level summer riding jacket. Featuring 600D-denier mesh polyester panels on the front, rear and sleeves it breathes as freely as a cotton tee. In high-impact areas, like the upper torso and shoulders, you’ll find full-weave 600D polyester that’ll keep your skin safe. To soak up hard knocks Rev’it!’s added Knox Flexiform shoulder and elbow armour and you have the option of adding your own armour in the back. The inclusion of a reflective Rev’it! emblem adds an extra element of safety in low-light conditions.
Practicality is paramount in the design of the Eclipse 2 jacket. Waist and internal pockets offer plenty of storage space for loose valuables. The cuffs, biceps and waist are all adjustable for optimum comfort and there’s a jeans loop to prevent the jacket from riding up.
RRP: $151.99 USD
Best Four-Season Motorcycle Jacket: Thor Range Jacket
Genuine four-season capability comes at a cost. So if you’re serious about owning a riding jacket that can pilot you through an entire year without sacrificing comfort, practicality and most importantly, your safety, be prepared to cough up some serious cash. If you’re flushed for cash that won’t be an issue, but if you’re looking for something that won’t completely obliterate your credit card, the 2023 Thor Range jacket may be just the ticket.
Recognised as one of the world’s top off-road riding apparel brands, Thor knows everything there is to know about riding on the dirt. However, the brand’s new ‘Range’ lineup extends its offering to include road-going duties. So what makes a great on/off-road, year-round riding jacket? It’s all about premium materials and considered design.
In terms of comfort, the Range jacket has a relaxed cut and offers three points of adjustability (arms, waist and cuffs) so you can tweak the fit to suit. Thor has used panels of their flexible Dura-Motion fabric for restriction-free movement and the jacket’s high collar features a plush liner. During the warmer months, a series of strategically placed YKK waterproof zippers on the front and rear can be opened to allow cooling air to flow freely through the jacket. A mesh moisture-wicking liner also helps to prevent the build-up of sweat. When it comes to colder, inclement weather, the Range jacket ships with removable quilted thermal liners. Rain is kept at bay thanks to internal and external waterproofing in the form of taped seams, waterproof YKK zippers and a breathable laminated coating that boasts a 20,000mm waterproof rating. The Range jacket also has all your storage needs covered with 3 high-volume waterproof pockets.
As for safety, the Thor Range jacket cuts no corners. Starting with the exterior, Thor has placed rip-stop, abrasion-resistant panels in high-impact zones. Reflective details make your presence known to other motorists in low light conditions and all of the jacket’s seams are double or triple-stitched to prevent bursting. On the inside, you get a comprehensive set of D30 CE Level 1 impact armour which covers your elbows, shoulders and back.
Despite Thor’s off-road roots, the Range jacket won’t leave you looking like you’re planning on circumnavigating the globe. The modern styling will work just as well for urban commuters as adventure tourers making this excellent four-season riding for just about anyone.
RRP: $329.95 USD
Best Leather Motorcycle Jacket: Merlin Alton
Leather is the undisputable king of motorcycle apparel fabrics. Although its protective abilities have been surpassed by modern tech fabrics, leather offers timeless good looks and proven dependable strength. A well-maintained, good-quality leather jacket can also last over a decade which makes owning one a great investment.
The Alton leather jacket is produced by UK riding gear experts Merlin. Rather than your typical high-sheen black leather the Alton is made from supple 1.2mm to 1.3mm Aniline matte leather. A huge benefit of this leather is that it eliminates the uncomfortable breaking-in period of traditional leather jackets. Forming part of Merlin’s heritage collection the styling of the Alton can be described as neo-classic. Timeless details include ribbed panels on the shoulders, zippered sleeves and a button clasp mandarin-style collar. While other features like the asymmetrical chest pockets and slim cut bring the styling into the 21st century.
Inside the Alton jacket, you get a mesh moisture-wicking liner beneath a removable 100g thermal liner featuring panels of Marton Mills tartan. There’s a pocket for optional back armour and the jacket ships with removable CE Level 1 shoulder and elbow armour. The combination of the armour and the Aniline leather has resulted in the Alton being classed as a CE Level AA garment.
For improved comfort, the Alton can be cinched at the waist and the cuffs to limit or free up the flow of air. At the rear, you’ll find a jeans zipper to hold the jacket to riding pants and at the front, there’s a zipper guard to prevent any paint scratches. The Merlin Alton also offers both internal and external storage and branding is limited to a single Merlin shield patch on the chest.
RRP: $399 USD
Special mention: Saint Unbreakable Denim Jacket
Denim jackets are as timeless as leather ones. But unlike leather, denim won’t withstand a high-speed slide down the asphalt. That is unless it’s made using Saint’s UHMWPE Unbreakable Denim.
Australian outfit Saint have been perfecting their single-layer, abrasion-resistant denim for over a decade. The faux shearling collared Unbreakable Denim jacket makes use of this technology to create a bona fide riding gear garment. Despite this jacket’s light feel its black denim can withstand over 5.9 seconds of slide time. In comparison Saint says racing leathers can withstand 7 seconds, so that’s pretty impressive. Additionally, it can be fitted with D30 shoulder, back and elbow armour to step the safety factor up another level.
Saint has an “all day wearable” design approach with all of their riding gear. The Unbreakable Denim jacket is no exception with a look that is ideal for both on and off the bike. The jacket comes with 2 interchangeable black and white faux shearling collars or you can rock it with the plain denim collar. Sturdy riveted buttons secure the jacket in place and they all feature Saint’s winged emblem. The cut at the rear is low to keep your kidneys covered while you ride and like normal denim, this jacket’s classic look will only improve with age.
RRP: $450 USD