The gear you choose to wear whilst riding says a lot about you. Our squidly counterparts on GSX-Rs will invariably cloak themselves in patently absurd Power Ranger suits bearing countless corporate logos, splashes of fluorescent color not seen since the mid-1980s, and large knee sliders that are suspiciously devoid of any wear.
For those of us on the other side of the motorcycle community, the choice of jacket is a big decision—possibly even bigger than our choice of partner. At least we know our jacket will still be around in 20 years’ time, and will not have an affair with the tennis coach. Or complain that you spend too much time at the pub.
These five classic motorcycle jackets all have one important characteristic in common—they can be worn on or off your bike, without leaving you looking a whisker out of place.
Roland Sands Design—The Ronin This one has the look of a motorcycle jacket that could have been worn in any decade from the last 113 years, and not raise an eyebrow. I suspect that the team at Roland Sands Design took a leaf out of Ford Prefect’s book and had a friend at the Department of Motor Vehicles crash a car into it, you know, to give it that nice worn-in look. The Ronin has been designed with pre-curved sleeves and a café-racer style shorty snap collar. It also has CE armor-ready shoulder, elbow, and back protector pockets, and it’s constructed from hand-finished, washed and waxed 1.2mm cowhide. It’s available in black, tobacco and clay colouring (tobacco pictured above) with an MSRP of $590 (US) with armor available separately. [Buy]
Icon 1000—The Chapter The Chapter adeptly straddles the retro and futuristic schools of design. Call it ‘retro-futurism’ if you like. This jacket looks as though it could be worn by a guy in the mid 70s riding a chopper down a lonely highway; at the same time, it also looks like it could be worn by an X-Wing pilot in Star Wars VII. The Chapter Jacket is constructed from Brazilian cowhide with a hand-waxed finish. Internally it’s fitted with a full set of D3O® CE-approved impact protectors in the shoulders, elbows and back. It’s available in black (pictured), grey, red and brown, and sells for around $600 inclusive of armour. [Buy]
Belstaff—The Roadmaster The Roadmaster is the motorcycle jacket you wear when you don’t want to get your leathers wet, muddy or otherwise English-ified. Lawrence of Arabia was a fan of Belstaff jackets: it’s rumored that he came to his end while wearing one. They’ve also been worn by more modern motorcycle-riding celebrities like George Clooney, Ewan MacGregor and Brad Pitt. The waxed cotton construction is perfect for damp English weather, and its breathability makes it a solid choice for warmer climates. It’s available for £525 in just one color—traditional olive green. [Buy]
Schott NYC—The Classic Perfecto This jacket needs no introduction. It was worn by Marlon Brando in the 1953 film The Wild One, it’s been worn by Bruce Springsteen for the past 40 years, and it was worn by The Ramones at the height of their fame. Each one is made in the USA from deluxe heavy steerhide, fashioned into partially curved sleeves and a belted waist. This jacket was first released in 1928, making it one of the longest-running motorcycle jacket designs in the world. In 15 years it’ll be celebrating its 100-year anniversary. Which means that if you get a Schott jacket now, it should look just about right in time for the centenary. It’s available in black or brown with an MSRP of $570. [Buy]
Barbour—The International J Barbour & Sons Ltd started out making jackets in 1894 in the Market Place in South Shields, England. Today, Barbour is run by the fifth consecutive generation of the family, and each jacket is still made by hand in the UK. The International Original is made from heavyweight hand-waxed cotton, and sports a belted waist, corrosion-resistant brass fasteners and an angled top left pocket. (Perfect for holding a hip flask.) It’s available with an MSRP of £249 and comes in any color you like, so long as it’s black. [Buy]