Like all riding gear, you motorcycle jacket has to do two things: protect you and keep you comfortable. While you might spend a lot of time thinking about how it looks, you should really be more concerned with how it functions and fits. You ride a motorcycle. You're already cool. A fancy jacket isn't needed. Before you worry about how the hide you're wearing looks, consider these four things.
1. Size and Fit
Size and fit are probably the most important things when it comes to riding gear. A kickass jacket that doesn't fit you well will only hinder your riding and make you less safe. The same goes for helmets, boots, pants or any kind of riding gear.
If you're buying online, make sure you can return items if they don't fit. Try your best to look for sizing charts, reviews and tips so you don't have to screw around with sending things back. If you're shopping in the store, see if you can sit on a bike once you try something on. That's the best way to know if whatever you're getting is really the right fit.
There are all kinds of materials out there when it comes to motorcycle jackets. We all think of badass leather motorcycle jackets, but some textile motorcycle jackets look just as good and can breath better than leather.
Something you should consider when thinking of materials is how you ride. If you're hitting the ton on a regular basis, get some thick leather gear that will really protect you. You know how MotoGP riders can pop up after they've slid 100 feet down the racetrack? A good goddamn leather riding suit, that's how. You don't necessarily need a full suit (although it couldn't hurt), but the tougher the material the less likely you'll be hurt.
3. Buy New, if You Can
Beginning bikers often are a little strapped when it comes to cash for gear, but buying new gear is almost always better than buying used. Sure, that old motorcycle jacket at the vintage shop downtown is cool, but it probably won't protect you for shit if your back skids across the pavement. There are plenty of places to shop for motorcycle jackets online or you can go down to your local bike shop. Most of them have a modest selection of gear or can order you exactly what you need.
4. Comfort and Protection are Paramount
If your jacket doesn't protect you and you get into an accident, say goodbye to riding your motorcycle for a while. Instead of feeling the cool wind on your face, you'll be home applying medication to your fluid seeping road rash. Trust me, it isn't fun.
Get a jacket that can withstand some abuse, and if you're really smart, you'll opt for something with space for removable motorcycle jacket armor. Removable protective padding in the jacket is great because you're going to be sweating in the jacket and cleaning those pads is smart and courteous to anyone who has to get close to you.
Looking for more great info on motorcycle jackets? Check out this article by Motorcycle Legal Foundation!