For new riders, the question often arises: How long should a motorcycle jacket be? This quest for the perfect gear fit is not just a challenge; it’s an essential aspect of motorcycling that enhances not only your safety but also the overall thrill of your riding experience, even for seasoned riders. When it comes to selecting the right motorcycle jacket, it should be long enough to perfectly rest along your beltline when you’re standing and provide full thigh coverage in your riding position, all the while hugging your body snugly—neither too loose nor too tight, akin to the fit of a high-performance helmet or a well-tailored racing suit.
Should the jacket err on the side of being too long, it risks restricting your range of motion, particularly during sportier or more aggressive rides, thus impeding your ability to skillfully maneuver the bike. An overly long jacket might even obstruct your view of the essential controls. Conversely, if it veers toward being too short, you open yourself up to the wrath of potential abrasions on your upper body, including the torso and lower back, should an unfortunate tumble occur. Furthermore, its abbreviated length could expose you to the elements—unyielding wind, unforgiving rain, and relentless road debris, particularly during adventurous rides.
A motorcycle jacket that clings too tightly can be equally problematic, stifling your movement on the bike and diminishing your comfort. Likewise, a loose jacket will flap around incessantly, becoming a source of unwelcome fatigue during those long days in the saddle. The best and only way to get a correctly fitting motorcycle jacket is to try one on—a journey that commences with sourcing nothing less than the finest.
In doing so, you’ll unlock the jacket’s full potential, which boasts an impressive 29.7% effectiveness in preventing injuries during a crash scenario. Even Dale Arenson, author of the captivating eBook memoirs ‘HANGMEN: Riding With an Outlaw Motorcycle Club in the Old Days,’ would know.
11 Best Motorcycle Jackets for Every Riding Style
Scroll to the right to find out where to buy, discover the best prices, and see if you might be lucky enough to get a discount from the sellers.
|Jacket Model||Category||Numeric Size||Get Yours|
|AGVSPORT Ascari||Best Overall||40-52||Amazon|
|Klim Dakar||Best Value for Money||38-62||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|Sedici Federico 2||Best Budget-Friendly||38-62||RevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles|
|Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air||Best Summer||38-58||RevZilla | MotoSport | CycleGear|
|Dainese Fighter||Best Race/Sport||44-60||RevZilla | CycleGear|
|AGVSPORT Flex Tex||Best Multi-Season||40-53||Amazon|
|REV'IT! Eclipse 2||Best Warm Weather||44-60||RevZilla | CycleGear | J&P Cycles|
|Scorpion EXO Optima||Best Winter||36-62||RevZilla | CycleGear | Amazon|
|Klim Induction||Best Adventure||38-58||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|Alpinestars Andes v3 Drystar||Best Street||38-62||RevZilla | MotoSport | Amazon|
|AGVSPORT Palomar||Best Vintage||40-52||Amazon|
I know, I know. With such an array of exceptional choices, the task of selecting the perfect jacket may seem daunting. But I’m here to offer valuable insights.
5 Critical Factors To Ensure Your New Motorcycle Jacket Fits Perfectly
Much like shopping around for a helmet, the material, level of protection, sizing and user comfort, versatility, and fit will greatly influence your jacket ownership experience, ultimately determining the value you get for your investment. I have ridden in budget and pricey gear, including leather and textile options of all cuts and sizes, and here is what I believe matters when selecting a safe and functional motorcycle jacket:
1. Material: Leather, Textile or Cotton?
|Material Type||Jacket Type||Description||Ideal Use Case|
|Kangaroo, goatskin, cowhide||Sport leather jacket||High-speed and track-ready with advanced protection||Sportbike, track days, spirited riding|
|Cowhide, goatskin||Casual leather jacket||Stylish on and off the bike with moderate protection||Everyday riding in fair weather|
|Nylon, polyester, spandex||Full textile jacket||Versatile and protective for various conditions||Adventurous, touring, commuting|
|Nylon mesh, polyester mesh||Mesh jacket||High airflow for hot weather with basic protection||Hot weather and protection|
|Polyester mesh, nylon mesh||Riding shirt||Casual style with hidden protection||City or around-town riding|
|Denim, oxford, waxed cotton||Cotton jacket||Comfortable and adaptable with limited stretch||Versatile for everyday use|
The Dominance of Leather
Leather reigns supreme as the go-to material for motorcycle attire, not only for its style quotient but also for its ability to age with character while providing unmatched protection against the harshest abrasive forces on the tarmac – the world’s roughest sandpaper. Leather motorcycle jackets can come with varying price tags, contingent on factors like the source material (whether it’s cowhide, kangaroo, or goatskin) and the grade of leather employed (full-grain, top-grain, or split).
Beyond these considerations, leather jackets fall into two categories: casual and sport. As their names imply, casual jackets, like, say, the Alpinestars Andes v3 Drystar, cater to various riding styles and prioritize both comfort and safety. On the other hand, race-fit jackets, exemplified by the AGVSPORT Ascari, are typically pre-curved to accommodate sport bike riding positions but might prove less comfortable for street use.
A well-fitting leather jacket should be snug but not overly tight, eventually molding to your body for the perfect fit after the break-in period. You can also intentionally stretch your jacket by up to 15%, depending on the leather type and thickness, without damaging it, though this will alter both the length and width, making it looser.
The Allure of Textile
Textiles are breathable, cheaper, lighter, more waterproof, and easier to dry than leather, making them an attractive choice for versatile and specialized extreme riding, especially adventures—perhaps why the Klim Induction, with its class-leading airflow for comfort in the warmest riding environments, stands out as a top choice.
They’re also reinforced with Cordura, Kevlar, Dyneema, Keprotec (a blend of Cordura and Kevlar), high-tenacity synthetic fibers that bring their resistance to road rash, nearly as good as that of leather, and provide better puncture resistance than anything practical on the market.
Similar to leather, a textile motorcycle jacket should also have a snug fit without being overly tight. Unlike leather, the fit of a textile jacket doesn’t change significantly with use or cleaning.
The Versatility of Cotton
Then we have cotton, the world’s most popular fabric, acclaimed for its comfort, adaptability, and longevity when blended with artificial fibers. Denim, oxford, and waxed cotton are some examples of motorcycle jacket fabrics made from this natural fiber, along with spandex, polyester, and Gore-Tex (waterproofed nylon).
Even when blended with elastane, a stretchy material, cotton motorcycle clothing will have limited stretch due to the nature of cotton fibers. So, you can expect that the length of your denim biker jacket will remain the same even after its 10th wash.
2. Level of Protection: How Much Is Covered?
From zippers and closures to CE-approved armor, every detail about a motorcycle jacket matters. But one overlooked area that I feel is even more important is getting a jacket that actually covers your skin.
A motorcycle jacket should cover your torso, from the base of your neck to the waistline, and the full arm length from the shoulder (or spine) to the wrists. Even AGVSPORT Ascari, the best motorcycle jacket in the world today, with the best set of CE-approved EN 1621-Level 2 Smoothways soft armor in shoulders, elbows, and back, reminiscent of the top-tier Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v3 Air, will do you no good if parts of your skin are exposed at the wrists or waistline.
A Description of Various Certifications for Armor Used in Motorcycle Jackets
Certification Description Key Information
CE Level 1 Indicates basic protection against impacts Typically found in areas like elbows and shoulders.
CE Level 2 Represents higher-level protection against impacts. Offers superior impact protection, often in key areas.
CE EN 13595-1 Certification for protective clothing for professional riders. Ensures garments meet rigorous standards for professionals.
CE EN 17092 Certification for motorcycle protective garments. Includes various classes (AA, A, B, C) for different levels of protection.
CE EN 1621-1 Certification for limb joint protection (elbows and shoulders). Specifies testing for joint protectors.
CE EN 1621-2 Certification for back protectors. Indicates that the back protector meets safety standards.
CE EN 1621-3 Certification for chest protectors. Ensures chest protectors provide impact protection.
Pro Tip: Waist and wrist adjustable straps really help, but too much fabric will sail in the wind and cause discomfort while riding and grab on the pavement in a fall, causing you to tumble along. A blissful slide gives you better odds of walking away from a crash.
3. The Three Numbers: Chest, Arms and Waist
|Chest||Measure around the chest and back with a soft tape keeping it level at widest||Breathe naturally, no need to size up for back protectors|
|Arm Length||Refer to the product page and size chart. Measure from shoulder or spine to wrist||Jackets may use different measurement points.|
|Waist||Measure an inch above your belly button||Waist sizes can vary, adjustability in many jackets|
To ensure I always get the correct fitting jacket hassle-free, I consider three body measurements important; the circumference of your chest around its widest point, the waist measurement when in a relaxed sitting position, and the arm length.
Usually, sizing charts reference arm length from the shoulder or from the spine (mid-upper back). You can distinguish between the two because the numbers will be in the 20s or 30s range, respectively. As for the waist and chest measurements, take three readings breathing casually and calculate the average without any regard for armor inserts as these take up almost no notable extra space provided the jacket is made to accommodate such.
Manufacturers often use alpha sizing (SM, MD, etc.) or numeric sizing (46, 48, 50, etc.), usually accompanied by a conversion table such as the one below.
Motorcycle Jacket Sizing: Alpha vs. Numeric
Alpha Sizing (SM, MD, etc.) Numeric Sizing (e.g., 48, 50, etc.)
Irrespective of the chosen size and style, I consistently prioritize the fitment notes provided in a jacket’s product description. These notes can be highly informative. Keep an eye out for terms like “regular,” “sport,” or “funky fit,” as they indicate the garment’s dimensions and how well it aligns with your body type and riding posture.
4. American vs. European vs. Race Fit: Which Is Best for You?
Depending on the type of riding and your style, you can get a European, Race Fit or American cut motorcycle jacket, and here is what each means:
- First up, European cut, also known as “slim” or “sport cut,” refers to motorcycle jackets with a slimmer fit and a taller, tapered profile. They feature a slightly longer torso length and neck profile.
- Then we have the Race Fit, designed for the aggressive sport bike rider, with pre-curved arms for three-quarter to fully tucked-in riding positions. I wouldn’t miss to mention that most sport-oriented motorcycle jackets have shorter sleeves to accommodate gauntlet gloves.
- And finally, we have American-fit motorcycle jackets with more generous room around the waist, shoulders, and arms. They may also call it “regular” or “touring fit.” But normally, it means the same thing, relaxed with more fabric and room for adjustment on the sides.
|Feature||American Fit Jackets||European Fit Jackets||Race Fit Jackets|
|Fit||Relaxed and roomy||Snug and secure||Snug and aerodynamic|
|Waist Fit||Extra room||Tapered||Snug with pre-curved arms|
|Arm Fit||Roomier||Tapered||Snug with pre-curved arms|
|Length||Standard length||Slightly longer||Slightly longer with pre-curved arms|
|Design||Versatile design||Sleek and sporty||Aerodynamic and sport-optimized|
|Ideal Rider Profile||Riders preferring a roomy fit||Riders who want a tailored fit||Sport riders seeking high-speed comfort|
|Manufacturers||AGVSPORT, Alpinestars, Dainese, Joe Rocket||Rev'it, Cortech, Scorpion, Klim, Bilt, Olympia||AGVSPORT, Alpinestars, Dainese, Rev'it, Helite|
5. The Surefire Way Is To Try It On!
We can sit and derive equations for days, but ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all motorcycle jacket. To be sure, you have to order your jacket or walk in, and try it on. Luckily, RevZilla, MotoSport, CycleGear, J&P Cycles, and BTO Sports, all reputable sellers, will accept returns in case you don’t like the length and fitment of your new gear. You’re allowed to wear the jacket and seat on your bike in the riding position, but don’t fire it up just yet! Because once it has seen the outdoors, the jacket is officially yours.
Try the usual movements on the bike, reaching the controls and tucking in if that’s how you roll. If the jacket adequately covers your wrists and feels comfortable around your waist while allowing you to move arms with ease then, you have found a match — your new motorcycle jacket! This calls for a celebration, with a ride, of course!
Michael’s Summary and Conclusion
When it comes to choosing motorcycle apparel, personal preference often plays a more significant role than precise science. Nevertheless, drawing from decades of riding experience, I can summarize my answer to the question: “How long should a motorcycle jacket be?” The primary factors influencing this decision will be the type of riding and prevailing weather conditions.
For off-road adventures or street riding in adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, or cold temperatures, a longer jacket is the superior choice. It helps prevent dirt, rain, snow, or cold air from infiltrating between your jacket and pants, enhancing overall comfort. Longer-style jackets are more effective in achieving this than shorter ones.
On the other hand, for street riding, a shorter jacket is generally more comfortable and less restrictive, providing greater mobility, especially on sport bikes. Moreover, in hot weather, a short jacket surpasses its longer counterpart in comfort, with the most perforated or vented jackets typically being of the short style.
For extremely hot street riding conditions, a short, perforated textile jacket is the epitome of comfort, though it may not be the safest option. If safety takes precedence over overall comfort, a fully perforated short leather jacket becomes the top choice.
I've diligently categorized my motorcycle gear recommendations into all available categories, with the aim of providing you with a comprehensive analysis that showcases the absolute best options for all your needs. These items are the culmination of in-depth research, extensive testing, and personal use throughout my vast experience of 50+ years in the world of motorcycling. Besides being a passionate rider, I've held leadership positions and offered consultancy services to reputable companies in over 25 countries. To See Top Picks and the Best Prices & Places to Buy: Click Here!
FAQs — I Have the Answers!
Q: Should Motorcycle Jackets Be Short Or Long?
Motorcycle jackets should not be too short or too long; they should rest on your thighs in a riding position and cover the beltline while standing.
Q: How Long Should a Motorcycle Jacket Be?
A motorcycle jacket should be long enough to rest perfectly along your beltline while standing and gracefully cover your thighs in a riding position, all the while hugging your body snugly—neither too loose nor too tight.
Q: How Big Should A Motorcycle Jacket Be?
The size of a motorcycle jacket should match your chest, waist, and arm measurements based on the manufacturer’s size chart.
Q: How Should A Motorcycle Jacket Fit On A Woman?
A woman’s motorcycle jacket should fit similarly to a man’s jacket, snugly and providing good coverage.
Q: How Tight Should A Motorcycle Jacket Be?
A motorcycle jacket should fit snugly, but not too tight and not too loose, for rider comfort and crash protection.
Q: What Size Is A 50 Motorcycle Jacket?
A size 50 motorcycle jacket in typically corresponds to 2XL, edging on the larger side, and should be chosen based on your chest and waist measurements.
Q: Why Are Motorcycle Jackets So Short?
Motorcycle jackets are not supposed to be overly short; they’re intended to provide good coverage from the elements or a crash. Some race-fit jackets may have shorter sleeves to accommodate gauntlet gloves.
Information for this article was partially sourced and researched from the following authoritative government agencies, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations: