Without a doubt, leather is the best choice when it comes to motorcycle jackets, but over the summer months, it can get mighty warm on the back of a motorcycle. This begs the question is leather the choice for the best summer motorcycle jackets over the summer months when the temperature is getting up towards the 90s.
Leather alternatives – What to look for in the best summer motorcycle jacket?
When it comes to crash protection and safety, you can’t beat leather, but the disadvantage with leather is that it doesn’t really accommodate the hot summer months. Although many manufacturers have tried to incorporate things that will make the jackets cooler like vents and perforations, they still remain a heavier option than many textile jackets. There are several things that you should look for if moving to a textile jacket:
There are a few key safety features you need to think of when you move away from leather over the summer months. The reason for a jacket is primarily safety, to preserve your skin should you hit the gravel. The CE scale is a good way of accessing a jacket’s safety.
All Jackets receive a rating because they are considered personal protection equipment (PPE). The ratings are in letters; from C, B, A, AA and AAA, the latter being the most protective. You should also ensure that they contain armour at least on the shoulders and elbows. Armour receives a level 1 or level 2 rating with level 2 offering the most absorption and protection.
The most important thing is to look at the things that are going to keep you cool, that is after all the main reason for moving away from the leather. Vents or mesh in the low impact zones is common. This helps keep the airflow moving on those hot days. It’s also worth looking for one with a removable thermal liner as it’s not hot 24 hours a day over summer and this gives you some options when it’s a bit nippy out.
Top 6 Best Summer Motorcycle Jackets
The following are some of the more popular summer jackets out there:
1. REV’IT Sherwood Air Leather Jacket
There had to be at least one leather jacket among the pickings. The Sherwood lair leather jacket is made of perforated cowhide and comes in sizes S to 3XL. It’s CE certified in the elbows and shoulders, with a pocket for back armour if required. The perforations help with the airflow while retaining the abrasion resistance.
This resistance is enhanced by increased stitching in the high impact areas. With curved elbows, this jacket is perfect for those longer rides and for staying comfortable. The Sherwood Air comes with an inner removable, sleeveless vest for those rides when there’s a bit of a chill in the air.
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2. Dainese Air Frame D1 Jacket
This is a textile jacket made with quick-dry fabric and mesh. In addition to the mesh panels, the fabric has been perforated to improve airflow and keep you cool over summer. The Dainese’s Air Frame D1 jacket comes in sizes S to 2 XL and is CE certified in the shoulders and elbows, with a back pocket for armour, similar to the Sherwood Air.
The D1 is arguably unmatched when it comes to airflow according to some experts and presents a very lightweight summer option. There’s been no scrimping on safety, with the body armour in the impact zones CE certified level 2 and reflective inserts also a feature.
3. Alpinestars Viper V2 Air Jacket
This is an upgrade of the V1 version of the Alpinestars Viper jacket and is noticeably more style with some subtle improvements in the technical aspects. It carries CE level 2 certified armour in the high impact areas of the shoulder and elbows but it has been well designed and is less obvious to the untrained eye.
The inner removable liner is ideal for those days when it is not quite as hot as you’re expecting. In addition, the Viper has massive mesh panels on the front and back which keep the airflow circulating and you nice and cool. At $199, a Viper is an affordable option.
4. Belstaff Macklin Jacket
The Belstaff Macklin jacket is a lightweight summer version of the popular four-pocket Crosby jacket. It’s made from Urban Mesh which is a textile created by Belstaff and unique to their products. While fitted for elbow and shoulder armour, the Macklin has a pocket for the back protector option similar to other jackets on this list.
The Macklin is waterproof to a degree with a PU spray and sealed seams. It’s certainly enough to get you home without too much water damage, but you probably don’t want to be out in a downpour. While it carries an EN17092 rating of A in respect of tears and abrasions, experts have questioned what this actually means due to its lightweight nature.
5. Icon’s Upstate Riding Shirt
The Upstate Riding Shirt is made from Icons proprietary textile, Iron Weave Mesh. With the elbow shoulder and spinal impact areas strengthened using CORDURA canvas overlays, it offers reasonable abrasion resistance. Armour is inserted over the shoulders and elbows. And spinal region for added protection.
Unlike many of the other options on this list, the upstate riding shirt has two colour options, a black and an olive. The design of the jacket is such that there is impressive airflow thought.
6. T.Ur J-Four
The T.Ur J-Four is perfect for off-road or adventure riding. It has a CE rating of AA with Level 2 armour in the elbows and shoulders, and the option of back protection with a pocket available for armour if required. The J-Four has multiple pockets and a drink bladder. The waterproof thermal liner is designed to keep the cold and wet out.
Made from Nylon and CORDURA has an excellent cooling system, with mesh fitted to allow good airflow. While it isn’t strictly made for summer riding fits the brief perfectly.
About the author: Michael Parrotte was the Vice President of AGV Helmets America, and a consultant for KBC Helmets, Vemar Helmets, Suomy Helmets, Marushin Helmets, KYT Helmets, and Sparx Helmets. In addition, he is the founder and owner of AGV Sports Group.