Buying A New Motorcycle Jacket? Check This Out First!
The cold weather has arrived and the forward thinking amongst you may already be dropping some hints to your loved ones about the possibility of a new riding jacket for a certain holiday celebration towards the end of the year; if you haven’t started dropping hints, do so now otherwise you’ll run the risk of getting something that you may have accidentally shown the slightest bit of interest in instead. If you’ve got the go-ahead for a new jacket, it’s time to think about what you really want, for what purpose you want it for, what style you want it in and where you’re going to buy it from.
Buying a new motorcycle jacket isn’t as simple as you’d think; what looks good and affordable may be a real waste of money in the flesh; what looks good and tough in the showroom may fall apart in an accident situation and finally: what feels comfortable when walking around on two feet may be a real pain when straddling two wheels. Buying the right jacket is a difficult process and with the amount that they cost, you should really take the time to research, try on and compare all the jackets out there.
So what should you look for in a jacket?
Obviously, above anything else, the jacket’s purpose is to protect your body in the event of an accident. Depending on how you ride, what you ride and where you ride, there are a lot of different styles and materials to choose from; if you want a jacket that will protect you, keep you warm and fair well at high speeds, then you’re going to want leather; if you need something that will protect you, keep you cool and fair well at reasonable speeds then you might want to opt for a textile composite jacket. If you do an internet search, you’ll quickly find out from some sites that there are three types of motorcycle jackets – the third choice is denim, if you’re an idiot. You have to take in to account that there are a lot of ‘information’ centres that cater to audiences from areas with a complete disregard for safety. If you’re unsure about wearing denim, put a denim jacket on and go and run down the road, purposefully falling over when you reach your top speed. Useless isn’t it?
With a rough idea in your mind of what you want, head down to your nearest motorcycle apparel retailer; all good bike shops will have a selection of different protective jackets for a wide range of purposes. Jackets might be expensive but it’s better to pay more and go for a brand that you know rather than pay less for a lesser known brand; if you have an idea of what you’re after, ask the nearest sales assistant to help you try on your first jacket.
A good jacket will fit you perfectly in every possible way. The neck, wrists and waist should be as snug as possible without restricting your movement of comfort; the sleeved should be long enough to cover your arms and wrists completely, even when holding on to handlebars; the shoulders should allow you to move your arms, rather than pin you in place.
For a jacket to be truly effective, it will have to be equipped with some degree of armour. Armour is inserted into jackets to help absorb shock and reduce the chances of abrasion in specific trouble areas. When you’re looking for a jacket, make sure that the armour is CE-approved and that it’s in the right places. The armour shouldn’t be annoying to you or stick into or rub you in any way that provides even the smallest degree of discomfort. If it’s annoying when you’re trying it on, it’ll be annoying when you’re riding.
The Build Quality
Okay, now that you’ve found and adequately armoured and comfortable jacket, the next thing that you should look at is the build quality. Your jacket of choice may be made of the highest grade leather and equipped with top of the range Kevlar armour but if it’s not put together properly, it will all count for nothing. Open the jacket and look at the stitching; ideally the stitches should be overlaid or triple stitched along the seams – anything less and they may break apart during a collision. You should also pay attention to how many whole pieces the jacket comprises of; if the jacket is made up of a lot of small, individual panels, then they’re more likely to tear and split at the seams in an accident. Generally, the less panels, the better.
If you’ve got a jacket that seems ideal up until this point, it’s worth taking the extra time to investigate the extras that a jacket has to offer: we’re talking about the practicalities, such as the fastenings, the fixings and of course, the pockets. Most modern jackets come equipped with a zip that runs around the circumference of the waist; this zip is used to attach riding trousers to the top half. If you’re buying a new jacket, it’s worth checking that your trousers are compatible with the jacket. This is useful if you’re in to track days because all circuits will insist on either a full racing suit or a two piece leather set that zip together completely.
After the zips, it’s also worth looking at your ventilation options and how easy they are to access; are there Velcro straps or zip vents? These things are important.
Pockets are another important thing to pay attention to and you should ask yourself some questions when you’re trying on your new jacket: can I fit my wallet in here? Are the pockets easy to access at the petrol station? Will anything fall out of them? Will the wind penetrate through the zips or coverings?
The Comfort Factor
Almost every jacket will be comfortable while you’re wearing in front of the mirror in the showroom – providing it’s the right size, of course – but you won’t be wearing your jacket walking around the shops, will you? You’ll be wearing it on your bike. The only way to truly test the comfort factor of a jacket is to wear it whilst sitting on your bike. As the majority of motorcycle apparel shops also sell motorcycles, you can ask to sit on a showroom model of a bike similar to yours to get an idea, if you’ve left your bike at home. Jackets are often designed for purpose, so a sports bike jacket will be tailored to the racing position – this will be uncomfortable to an upright commuter or long distance tourer, so bear that in mind.
For added comfort, you should also look at the practicality of the jacket and weigh up the pros and cons and thinking of solutions to any problems. Does the jacket come with a waterproof liner? Can you wear thick clothing underneath it in winter? Does it have enough ventilation for the summer? These are questions that need answers!
Don’t immediately fall in love with the first jacket you see; it might look the coolest and tick a few of the boxes but it’s a wise idea to try as many different jackets on in as many different shops as you can. Jackets are expensive things and you don’t want to end up buying something that you don’t want. Finding the right jacket is difficult and it shouldn’t be easy; when it comes to safety and comfort (and the price tag) it doesn’t pay to have a ‘that’ll do’ attitude.
So, after shopping around and finding the jacket of your dreams, all you have to do is buy it. Now here’s the problem: you could buy it from the shop you found it in or you could find the same model and brand online and pay a cheaper rate for it, what do you do?
Obviously, shopping online is the cheaper and most cost-effective option but if everyone starts buying their jackets online, these motorcycle shops are going to have to close down and you’ll never be able to try before you buy again! It’s a dilemma but one that you’ll have to overcome. We recommend buying from a physical retailer because you’ll be able to know the inside and out of the exact jacket that you’re going to buy. If you buy online, you may get given a factory reject – we’re not saying that things like that happen all the time, but they do happen, and it’s sods law that it’s going to happen to you!