The following seven steps will help you select a jacket that looks good and functions the way you want...
1 -- Determine which jacket style best matches the…
Way you like to ride...
Typical daily travel mileage you prefer...
Types of weather when you ride...
Time of year when you ride...
Condition of the streets or trails you ride on most...
Here are the major jacket styles you can choose from…
The "classic" is a heavy-weight, waist-length, cruiser-style leather garment that most people picture when you mention "motorcycle jacket."
The snug-fitting classic jacket's features typically include a
* Large, folded, snap-down collar
* Slanted, off-center front zipper
* Numerous zippered pockets and cuffs
* Decorative epaulets on the shoulders
* A wide, big-buckled belt
* Small snap-flap-equipped change pocket…
…and a variety of other snaps, zippers and adjustments that prevent the jacket from "ballooning" and its parts from flapping at high speeds.
You'd wear a casual fitting, waist-length cruising style motorcycle riding jacket for slow, easy jaunts down country roads on comfortable days.
The essential feature of a cruising jacket is its Oxford collar. This collar design functions a bit like a classic jacket's large, folded snap-down collar and a bit like the rigid, wrap-around Mandarin collar common to sportier jackets.
Cruising jackets range from no frills versions to belted versions with decorative braid and form-fitting stretch panels. Some have embroidered sections and leather fringe.
"Versatility" best describes the touring style motorcycle riding jacket.
This full-cut garment is designed for riders who spend long, consecutive hours on the road and travel in all sorts of weather. They want lots of comfort, ease of movement and good protection from harsh conditions.
The jacket's three-quarter length design covers the rider's lower-back and shuts out drafts.
Most have a removable cold-weather lining and are roomy enough to accommodate extra layers of clothes.
A mandarin collar and adjustable straps on the arms, cuffs and waist enable you to snug everything down for the long haul.
Other touring jacket features typically include
* Lots of easy-access exterior and interior pockets
* Front, back and side vents to let the air flow through
* A moisture-proof exterior or rain-stopping lining
Off-road riders want a lightweight, waterproof motorcycle riding jacket that gives them plenty of mobility, flexibility and lots of pockets.
But while such motorcycle riding jackets are more for weather protection than crash protection, body armor integrated throughout is okay.
Most come with reinforced elbows and shoulders. Some also have built-in or removable hard protection.
Replaceable protection helps to lengthen the jacket's lifespan.
Look for a jacket with reinforced zipper flaps and sealed seams that help keep moisture from penetrating.
On the other hand, because off-road riding is physically demanding, it's important for moisture to escape. That's why your off-road jacket should have an effective ventilation system.
Some motorcycle riding jackets have zip-off sleeves and convert into a vest, which will really help you to stay cool.
Racing motorcycle jackets are waist-length, close fitting and, traditionally, made of leather. Many come in bright colors to attract attention and reflect heat.
Some are perforated with numerous sieve-like holes that help keep the rider cool. Forced air penetrates the garment through the holes in front then escapes through vents in back.
Because serious racing jackets are intended primarily to protect your skin and bones in the event of a high speed get-off, they're designed to slide easily on asphalt or dirt without bunching or tearing.
They're equipped with fixed or removable body armor to protect your elbows and shoulders.
Some have a flexible plastic back protector -- or a place to insert one -- to protect your spine from hard falls, flying projectiles or from getting hit by a tumbling motorcycle.
2 -- Consider a motorcycle riding jacket made only for hot or cold weather
While on long trips you should be prepared to ride in cold, hot or rainy weather. And even during short day trips, you might get surprised by unpredictable temperatures.
But changeable weather conditions don't mean you need one jacket to accommodate all seasons. Consider having one jacket for hot weather and one for the cold…
Riding in hot weather while wearing a thick, black jacket intended mainly for cool temps can make you miserable.
In addition to the possibility of causing heat exhaustion, riding in hot weather without relief can distract you from your driving. It's dangerous.
If you do ride in hot weather, think about getting a jacket made to keep you comfortable under such conditions.
Good, lightweight, mesh-constructed hot weather riding jackets are light colored and breathable. They're usually waist-length and have air vents. Some also have a thin, removable liner.
While they're often made of cotton or lightweight synthetics, hot weather jackets are padded in the right places to give you adequate crash protection.
Winter Motorcycle Riding Jackets
Riding cold is a dangerous, bone-chilling, mind-numbing misery.
So if you're a cold-weather traveler -- or anticipate riding in cold weather -- you need a good winter riding jacket.
Most winter motorcycle riding jackets will cover your hips and some go as low as mid-thigh.
While such a jacket should be thick enough to keep you comfortably insulated from the cold, look for one that has a detachable liner and is also rainproof.
Your jacket should seal out cold winds at your wrists, waist and neck.
Make sure it has a collar with an adjustable closure that doesn't feel too tight over your scarf or when you're riding at speed.
Also, look for a motorcycle riding jacket with reinforced padding or armor on the elbows and shoulders. You're flirting with the possibility of taking a spill anytime you ride on roads made slick by rain or ice.
3 -- Do you want a leather textile fiber jacket?
You have many choices when deciding if you want a motorcycle riding jacket made of leather or textile fibers. Textiles can be synthetic or natural fibers.
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