Types of Motorcycle Jackets: A Guide for Beginners

Picture this – it’s a Saturday morning, the weather is perfect, my bike has a full tank of gas and I’m ready to hit the open roads!

Donned in my boots and jacket, I grab my helmet and head out the door.

I go to put on my helmet – but – what’s this? There’s a huge tear under my right arm! It’s time for a new jacket.

It had been a while since I had to buy a new jacket and I was unsure of the options available and what would be best suited to my style of riding. I was about to head down to Barnes Harley-Davidson®, but decided to do a bit of research on my own first … Here’s what I found.

Types of Jackets

When deciding on a motorcycle jacket, there are two main categories of materials to consider; leather and textiles. Let’s take a closer look at the features and benefits of each style of jacket.Harley Davidson womens vented leather jacket


The classic look and style of Harley-Davidson® badass-ery. Leather jackets are generally recognized as a staple for Harley-Davidson® riders and rock’n’roll enthusiasts. Leather jackets are more then just a fashion statement though and provides other benefits to the rider while enjoying the open roads.

The largest safety advantage of leather jackets is their abrasion resistance. This means, if you’re ever in an accident, leather jackets will provide you with the best protection against road rash.

“the largest safety advantage of leather jackets is their abrasion resistance” 

The heavy material of a leather jacket however also gives this style a few disadvantages. Due to the weight, leather jackets can fatigue the rider faster than a textile jacket would. The thick material also does not lend itself well to hot weather conditions or rain. In the sun, black leather will soak up the heat faster than a salamander in the desert.

On the other end of the weather spectrum, leather doesn’t perform very well as a waterproof option either. Leather jackets can be treated to be water resistant, however the moisture will eventually soak through.

Triple Vent System™ Jackets

Triple Vent System™ jackets are Harley-Davidson®’s answer to leather jackets’ fore-mentioned overheating issue. Now you can look badass while staying cool AND safe!

This revolutionary style of jacket was introduced to the motorcycle world by Harley-Davidson® and allows the rider to control the amount of airflow that circulates through their jacket. Designed specifically for riders with large fairings and windshields, these jackets feature three tiered side vents that are designed to keep you cool.



These motorcycle jackets are considered some of the best jackets in terms of comfort, performance and protection. Because they are made of leather material, Triple Vent System™ jackets also feature extremely lightweight body armour to protect the rider.

The versatility of Triple Vent System™ jackets makes them ideal for all season riders or those who live in unpredictable climates (see: Vancouver).

You can find Triple Vent System™ technology on several Harley-Davidson® jackets.


Now for the textiles! This jacket material is much more versatile than leather. Because of its lightweight fabric, textile jackets are highly breathable and have good ventilation.

For the rainy seasons (so always if you live in Vancouver), textile jackets can also easily be made waterproof. Because of this, textile jackets are a good option for rainy conditions as they’ll keep the water off of you.

Additionally, because the fabric of textile jackets is easier to work with, there’s generally more features available than leather jackets.

The lighter fabric of textile jackets does however make them less durable and they do wear out faster than high-quality leather jackets.


The younger brother to the textile jacket. Mesh is a great option for those who love riding in the summer heat.

While mesh jackets are the best option in terms of keeping you cool in summer months, they definitely offer the least amount of protection.

Because of the light fabric used in mesh jackets, they are generally the cheapest option compared to leather and textile jackets.


Mix it up with a 3-in-1 jacket! These jackets are incredibly versatile as they can be worn as a light jacket, a heavy (lined) jacket, or a separate vest or sweatshirt.

Their different components give you the option to adjust based on the temperature and usage and are available in a variety of designs and materials.


Harley Davidson Mens Textile Leather Jacket


Body Armour

Body armour helps insure your safety in case of a crash and is very important.  Most riding jackets have armour built in, however in some cases you may need to purchase this separately.


If you’re riding in the rain it seems intuitive that you find a jacket that will also keep you dry.  While we have a few jackets that fit this bill, we also supply some rain proof liners and midlayers that allow you to keep your jacket and stay dry!

Mid-layers & Liners

Using mid layers and liners allow you to customize your riding gear for the colder months without buying a jacket for each season, you can find some great heated liners on our online store.


The “Ideal” Fit

Aside from looking good on Instagram models and providing a “timeless” style, motorcycle jackets are crucial when it comes to riding. While there are all sorts of lists out there for what you should and shouldn’t have when it comes to the fit of your jacket, one of the most important aspects of finding your jacket is comfort. Finding the right jacket for you is important, so we’ve come up with an easy set of guidelines to help you find the perfect jacket.

Mens and Womens Harley Davidson Jackets


Not too tight! There shouldn’t be (a lot) of stress put on the seams and zipper(s) of the jacket.

Not too loose! Put on the jacket and sit on bike in ready position and grab fistful of fabric from the chest of the jacket. If you’re able to successfully  do this, it’s too loose.

Finding a fit in-between these two “extremes” is completely dependent on your comfort and style preference.


When you are in the riding position, the jacket should cover your wrists. When you stand up and rest your arms down at your sides, the jacket sleeves will come to around your mid palm.


The right jacket will be level with your belt when you are standing. That way, it will sit on your thighs when you’re sitting on a bike.



Finding the right jacket can take time, and you should be picky! Don’t settle for anything less than perfection. Whether you want to ride in warm weather (See our tips on that here), cold weather or all year round, your jacket has to move with you!

Pop into one of our locations to try on your dream jacket, or if you’re still unsure, we can help you find the right jacket for you.

Since I live in Vancouver and do a lot of riding in the rainy season, I opted for a textile jacket to keep the rain off.

What jacket did you choose? Let us know in the comments!


Still looking to complete your outfit? Check out our previous blog posts on choosing the perfect helmet, and picking out your riding boots.


Info: https://topmotorcyclejackets.com/how-should-a-motorcycle-jacket-fit/

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