Every biker has to have a leather jacket; that’s just the way it is. Our view is that the best time to ride in a leather jacket is right now. In its natural state leather has little by way of thermal qualities, and it’s less than ideal in the rain. But in the summer a leather jacket can be perfect. But not all leather jackets are born equal. Some have been designed for the track, and are made from heavy, stiffer leather. Many jackets have thermal linings, and some even come with a waterproof membrane. But for us, at this time of year, nothing beats a simple, lightweight, back-to-basics jacket. Below we’ve selected our top 10 leather jackets for summer riding. We hope you approve of our choices.
THE HALVARSSONS EAGLE JACKET
The Eagle is made from a beautiful, lightweight, goatskin that has been washed for an authentic patina. The jacket is reinforced, in all the key areas of vulnerability, with a Hi-Art anti-abrasion lining that strengthens the leather by 200%. There’s CE armour in the elbows and shoulders, and a pocket for a back protector, although it doesn’t come as standard. We like the traditional padded kidney panel too. The jacket is quite short, but it has a zip that you can use if you‘re wearing it with one of Halvarssons’ leather pants. Using Halvarssons’ clever Waist Zip, you can also zip the jacket into any pair of jeans.
THE HELSTONS RIVER PERFORATED JACKET
The River Perforated jacket is constructed from waxed cowhide, giving a stylish two-tone effect. The leather is no more than 1.1mm in thickness to keep the jacket light to wear, and there are two large perforated panels on the chest to allow airflow through the jacket. As with all Helstons jackets you get all of the usual CE approved protection in the shoulders, elbows and back. It is lined with a mesh-style material to help air flow. As a summer jacket the River does not come with a waterproof membrane, but it is supplied with a waterproof jacket that can be worn over the jacket if required.
THE FURYGAN SHEPARD JACKET
A perforated jacket is always going to be a bit nicer to wear on a hot day. Cool air can get in; hot air can get out. The Furygan Shepard is made from a really soft, slightly-aged buffalo leather. The styling is what you would expect of a modern, blouson-style leather jacket, but what we particularly like about the Shepard is the colour of the leather. It’s just a bit different. All the other stuff is pretty standard. A removable thermal lining. Three external pockets; one internal. Adjusters at the waist. Zips on the sleeves. D3O armour in the elbows and shoulders. A pocket for a back protector.
THE RUKKA MARKHAM JACKET
For the Markham, Rukka has chosen a premium-quality cowhide because, for many, good old-fashioned bovine leather represents the perfect blend of wearability, longevity and strength. The hem can be adjusted with poppers, the cuffs with zips and poppers. The zips are YKK. There are two slanted, zip pockets on the outside of the jacket, and two inside. The Rukka Markham uses D3O’s latest Air Protect CE armour in the elbows and shoulders. There’s a pocket for a back protector, although it is not supplied. On the shoulders, and down the arms beneath the elbows, there’s ribbed padding which is partly for added protection, but probably equally for the look. Behind the shoulders, you get accordion stretch for comfort. From afar, the Markham, which comes in two colourways, looks just like any other leather jacket, but it is made from the best leather, with the best armour, the best YKK zips and poppers, the best stitching and so on. It’s a very cool leather jacket that is perfect for summer riding. But don’t forget; it’s also a Rukka!
THE BLACK ARROW LIBERTY WHEELS JACKET
The Liberty Wheels jacket from Australian manufacturer Black Arrow is a demonstration of how form and function can come together in perfect harmony. The Australian maker has come out of the fashion world, but the owners are bikers through and through, and so the Black Arrows Liberty Wheels jacket will work just as well on the bike as it will on the street. The super-soft leather is between 0.9 and 1.0 mm in thickness. It has been lightly tumbled for a slight vintage effect. This leather is reinforced in the key areas with real DuPont Kevlar for added abrasion resistance. Level 1 armour comes fitted in the shoulders, elbows and back. Everything else is detail, but that detailing is impressive. We're talking about a zippered gusset at the hem, stretch panels in the shoulders, perforations, quilting, and so on. Zips are by YKK. This really is an exquisite jacket. It fits like the proverbial glove, yet it's a proper motorcycle jacket in every respect.
THE HELSTONS SARAH JACKET
The Helstons Sarah has been designed to be worn in all conditions. The leather is perforated in the chest and on the arms for more breathability in the summer, but the jacket also comes with a waterproof membrane as well as a removable, aluminium-lined thermal gilet. The leather is between 0.9 and 1.1 mm in thickness, and has been waxed and oiled to give the jacket an authentic patina. The jacket has two internal pockets, two in the liner and two on the outside. To adjust the fit, the Sarah has two poppered adjusters at the waist. CE approved armour comes as standard, and is fitted in the elbows, shoulders and back.
THE SPIDI GARAGE LEATHE JACKET
The Spidi Garage is made from super-soft 1.0/1.2mm Italian tanned leather that has been washed for extra softness and a vintage look. The leather has been treated for waterproofing, and there are vents in the chest pockets to aid air flow in hot conditions. There's CE approved armour in the elbows and shoulders, and there's a space for a back protector. It's a back-to basics leather jacket with heaps of style and a good deal of practicality.
THE FURYGAN KRISTEN JACKET
This is the ladies’ version of a jacket that, in the men’s range, is called the Shepard. It is made from vented buffalo leather, so it is definitely more about riding on warmer days. But the soft leather also means that the Furygan Kristen fits beautifully. The colour may not be the most practical, but in it the jacket does look stunning. Other details are much as you would expect. Adjusters on the waist. Zips on the sleeves. Three external pockets and one internal one. A removable, thermal liner. D3O armour in the shoulders and elbows. And a pocket for a back protector. This is, in every way, a pukka bike jacket, but it’s one that looks amazing, and fits beautifully.
THE HELSTONS HEAT PERFORATED JACKET
Made of lightweight bovine leather, with a 0.9mm-1.1mm thickness, the Helstons Heat Perforated jacket is naturally soft, as the leather has been treated with oils and waxes for a matt finish and a vintage look. You will stay cool all summer long with the special perforated panel at front of jacket, on the back and down the sleeves, as well as the ventilated liner. There are adjusters at waist and on sleeves, so you know the jacket will fit properly. Removable CE armour in the shoulders, elbows and back.
THE HALVARSSONS DRESDEN JACKET
What the Helstons Dresden jacket has in common with a number of leather jackets in the Halvarssons range is that it is made from ‘tumbled’ or ‘washed’ goat hide. Goat is stronger than cowhide, but thinner. It makes for comfortable, lightweight, yet still highly protective motorcycle wear. As is always the case with the Swedish brand, you get a Hi-Art, anti-abrasion lining that increases the strength of the leather by 200% in all the key areas of risk. What we particularly like about the Dresden is that it’s a tad longer than some of Halvarssons’ other leather jackets. We also like its café racer styling. Obviously, it comes with CE armour in the shoulders and elbows, and you get a pocket for a back protector, although it’s not included. A zip runner means that you can attach it to any Halvarssons pant or, if you use their clever Waist Zip, to any pair of jeans as well.
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