So you've just bought a brand new motorcycle jacket. But you've never shopped for one before, or you've been wearing your friend's/brother's/boyfriend's/girlfriend's/neighbor's jacket and have no idea how something should fit. The fit can also vary greatly from jacket to jacket, depending on what kind of rider it was designed for. 

I’m going to break this section out into several sections, and this is a work in progress so check back for updates:

  • Riding Style: How your riding style affects what you may choose including fit and feature differences

  • Protection: How to gauge what is right for you

  • Budget: How to choose how much to spend


Jackets will come in different forms depending on the kind of riding that you're doing. For example:

  • A sport leather can be more comfortable for sportbike riding position.

  • A touring textile jacket is more comfortable in upright / dual sport / 2up riding position.

  • A relaxed fit leather jacket may be more comfortable in cruising / standard riding position.


Also keep in mind that anyone can make and sell motorcycle gear. There are no guidelines or safety requirements in the US when it comes selling gear. So you can buy a "motorcycle" jacket at the mall but is it really for riding? Probably not. 

There are so many things to consider, and with all the options available it can be overwhelming. First I'm going to show you what kind of features you'll find in motorcycle specific gear, and how to figure out what fits and what doesn't using some guidelines that you can apply to all of the gear you wear.   

Here are a few questions I like to ask my customers when they're jacket shopping which might help you figure out what you want to search for:

  • What kind of riding are you doing? City, highway, backroads, etc.

  • What do you want your gear to do for you? Just look great? Or, keep you warm/dry/cool/etc.

  • What fit issues do we need to address and/or solve?

And don't forget to read my shopping rules before you get started :)


Revit Legacy GTX Women's Jacket with a handy loopback when it's toasty and I need a little air to my neckline.

Revit Legacy GTX Women's Jacket with a handy loopback when it's toasty and I need a little air to my neckline.

These are features that I find to be important when it comes to protective motorcycle jackets:

  • Adjustable snaps/velcro/buttons at the collar and wrists to adjust fit, depending on how many layers you're wearing

  • Sealed zippers either with velcro, or a silicone/rubber seal to keep water out on winter jackets

  • Vents on the chest and/or back

  • Cinching at the waist to adjust fit

  • Exterior and interior access pockets

  • Big zipper pulls on any vents so you can open and close them while riding

  • Accordian/stretch panels above the elbows and over the shoulderblades to give more flexibility and room to reach forward

  • Removable liners for layering

  • Articulated (fit) for riding position

  • Pockets for CE/EN rated back protection, shoulder and elbow armor


Now to the fun part, checking your fit! Up until now, you've been standing in front of a mirror and not considering how it's going to feel and fit on your Motorcycle. It's time to put your motorcycle's feelings ahead of yours. It should matter more how the fit feels ON the bike, not off. So jump on a bike, or assume proper riding position to check sleeve length, etc.

Rev'it Gear 2 Pants, My first pair in 2012. Clearly too big on my flat butt!

Rev'it Gear 2 Pants, My first pair in 2012. Clearly too big on my flat butt!

Sit on a motorcycle and check the following:

  • For a jacket, check that your sleeves are long enough to wear under the gauntlet of your gloves.

  • Check your armor (elbow, shoulder, knee) and make sure that they’re sitting snugly against you, without the ability to move freely.

  • Ask someone nearby to see if they can move the armor while you’re in riding position. If they can move it around, then you need to cinch something or it’s simply too big.

  • How much extra room is there in the torso? If you’re trying one on that includes a removable thermal liner, make sure that the fit is as snug as possible, because you may not wear it, depending on the weather. You won’t need to ‘layer up’ if you’re buying a winter textile with a thermal liner.

  • Check to see if excess bunching appears at the chest and shoulder (in riding position). If it looks as if the shoulders are pushing up while in riding position, then it’s probably too big or if it's the wrong cut/style for your body type.

  • And ladies, if you have ladies... then you know how difficult it can be to get things to fit over them! Remember that motorcycle jackets (protective ones) are *always* going to fit best in riding position. So you might need to bend over a little and bring your shoulders forward, while bring your girls back. Then you're going to get on your motorcycle and go riding!

Olympia Airglide 4 Jacket

Olympia Airglide 4 Jacket

It's difficult to break the habit of mall shopping, because that's what you're used to. Always pick a size and fit that works BEST in Riding Position. Since that's where you're going to be spending the majority of your time, you will want the most comfortable fit in this position.

Everything should fit better on the motorcycle

Everything should fit better on the motorcycle

More often than not, people buy jackets that are 1-2 sizes too large in order to layer up when it’s cold. A properly fitting winter jacket should provide insulation by: 1) being the right size and 2) the thermal liner.  If the thermal liner isn’t warm enough, substitute it for your favorite layer. But don’t buy it one size up so you can wear even more layers underneath. What’s going to happen when you decide to wear that jacket when it’s nice out? All of a sudden, without any layers, it’s 1-2 sizes too big.  Or, if you want to be as warm as possible, try a heated liner. You can never go wrong with heated!

So try it on with and without every layer and see how it fits in the various combinations. Think about how you’ll wear it the most and then choose your size.


So what kinds of jackets are out there? What are all the options? Here are the most common styles of jackets that you'll find, but of course there are variations of each type. I'm giving you the broadest categories so you have a starting point to narrow things down as far as which direction you want to go. First are the various forms of textiles, and then various forms of leather. 

multiseason; 3 season cold (fall, winter, spring)


And there are options like the Dainese Alice Textile which work in the middle, as far as warmth or ventilation. The Alice is neither waterproof, nor vented. So it's what I call a midweight. Since there isn't any venting, it's too warm when it's ~85-90F especially with humidity. (Unless you are REALLY coldblooded). I found this to work well in San Francisco when I commuted around town in the Summer/Spring (it never gets above 80 in the summer). But found it too cold when the temperatures dipped below 50F. 



A more casual looking jacket like this Maven is perfect for wearing out to dinner or going to a party without standing out too much as 'the biker'.

It has pockets so you can add armor in the shoulders and elbows and a pocket for an optional back protector.

The thickness is usually thinner (0.5-1.1mm) for more casual comfort off the bike. Heavier weight leathers are usually 1.2-1.3mm in thickness.

The fit is also more relaxed and more comfortable in upright riding positions.

Whatever you choose, choose something that works for you and actually protects you. Anyone can sell you a jacket and say that it's for motorcycles. But that's very different from something that will protect you in case you are in an accident. Remember that it's usually everyone else we are trying to protect ourselves from rather than yourself.