A CE approved jacket is a vital piece of kit for motorcyclists. Nobody wants to get road rash or broken bones and a quality jacket will literally save your skin.
The good news is, motorcycle jackets have improved dramatically over the years, and today’s modern jackets include shoulder, elbow and back protection to cushion your fall.
Not only that but the designs have changed too. No longer are bikers restricted to the choice of either a plain black jacket or a neon-snazzy one, covered in external plastic protection and adorned with an ‘aerodynamic’ hump.
Despite lots of high-tech materials becoming available, leather is still the go-to material for protective motorcycle clothing for motorcycle riding. It’s sturdy and durable so lasts a considerable amount of time if you look after it well.
Unlike the modern textile jackets, leather jackets may not be entirely waterproof, but they’re thick, natural and provide a good layer of protection from the road and the elements.
Some jackets come with added waterproofing which can help keep you dry for longer and if you’re worried about the cold, leather is very effective at keeping the wind out. Just ask your local Friesian..
When it comes to retro motorcycle jackets, for those who want a more classic or vintage look then there’s no better material than leather. You can get pre-aged leather jackets but the nature of the material is that it will age and age well. Especially if you look after it by treating it to leather conditioner once a year.
To help you pick a great classic biker jacket, we’ve created a showcase of our favourites from each budget range. Whether you’re after a plain black, brown or retro-design, men’s or women’s motorcycle leather jacket, we’ve got a pick for you.
CE approved back armour insert included
With an outer layer of durable buffalo leather that has an aged appearance, this unisex leather jacket comes in brown or black in sizes S to 4XL. Complete with a removable thermal quilted liner for colder days, it will keep you comfortable whatever the weather. Fully CE certified back armour insert, and shoulder and elbow protection, this short style jacket has two external and five internal pockets for the safety of your possessions. Fastening with front zip and snap buttons for wind protection.
Can be fitted with an airbag!
With a timeless look that is suitable for on and off your bike, the Merline Beacon long jacket is available in size S to 5XL. Made from the highest grade 1.6mm Brazilian drum rolled hide with a waterproof and breathable membrane to keep you comfortable. An additional removable thermal liner adds protection against the cold while its CE approved removable shoulder and elbow armour keep you safe. A concealed zip allows you to attach trousers to complete your gear. With multiple pockets with zipping or popper fastenings, and a soft collar, this jacket is stunning to wear. It can also be used with an airbag; mixing retro styling with modern tech.
Retro style with D3O CE approved armour
Made from high-quality buffalo leather, cotton lined and a removable thermal quilted lining, moisture is kept away from your skin whether you’re hot or cold. Available in two colour choices; brown or black and sizes S to 5XL, you can turn heads with this short, retro-styled jacket. Featuring D30 elbow, shoulder, and back protection that’s CE certified, you have ample protection out on the roads. With a concealed zip to attach Richa trousers, adjustable poppers on the arms and waist, the tapered design will fit your form effortlessly.
Vintage look, modern construction, high-quality finish
Constructed from Artemide refined full-grain cowhide with suede inserts, you can get a cool vintage look with this jacket while you stay fully protected. Complete with removable CE composite shoulder and elbow protectors with the option to add a Dainese back protector (sold separately). Removable thermal liner, TechFrame internal liner, and soft collar add layers of comfort on and off your bike. Plenty of internal and external pockets for your items and additional belt loops for attaching to Dainese jeans via a belt.
Ful-grain leather, Airbag ready
A personal favourite in the BikerRated team, this jacket oozes style with its timeless aged design and modern twists. Built to last, it’s compatible with Alpinestars Tech-Air airbag system (sold separately) for added performance. Fitted with a removable thermal liner, this jacket features rear and side stretch inserts for extra flexibility and pre-curved sleeve to reduce rider fatigue. Complete with CE certified Bio-Light shoulder and elbow armour, there’s also a pocket to insert a back protector keeping you protected all round. Plenty of pockets including an internal one and zip and snap cuffs for an optimal fit. A decent retro look but a proper all-season leather jacket.
Ladies Retro Biker Jackets
There’s a great selection of women’s biker jackets out there for you ladies. No longer do you have to order a men’s or unisex version in a smaller size – these have been designed and cut with ladies proportions.
We’ve not in a position to pick the best, because styles and tastes vary but our pick above ticks all the boxes in terms of CE approval, quality construction, women’s specific fit and owner feedback.
All you need now is a multi-coloured Honda Helix and you’re good to go!
Optimum fit for comfort and protection
Constructed from premium grade super soft leather, this jacket is designed to fit a woman’s natural body shape while providing to the right level of protection for riding. Available in sizes 8 – 22 and sporting a sleek and stylish plain design with strategically placed darts, the jacket hugs your body for the ultimate level of comfort. Including a removable thermal liner for those colder days, this jacket is fitted with CE approved D30 shoulder and elbow protectors with the option to insert a back protector. Zip and snap cuffs and collar are soft and durable for long-lasting wear.
Leather Jacket FAQs
Are leather motorcycle jackets waterproof?
No, but they can be rain repellant. Most leather jackets will withstand a light shower but a prolonged downpour will saturate the leather and soak in. Once they’re wet, they take a long time to dry.
You can buy products like Nikwax Fabric & Leather waterproofing which will hugely improve the waterproofing of your kit, from leathers to textile jackets or gloves but if you are caught out in a downpour and want to stay dry, you’ll need a waterproof motorcycle top to keep the rain off.
Can I upgrade the armour in my leather jacket?
The answer is most likely: yes. If your armour is removable then you can buy any aftermarket armour and slot it in. A lot of jackets will come with armour in the elbows and shoulders but many don’t have any back armour. You can buy soft CE approved insert back protectors from companies like D3O and Rev’it, which is well worth it.
Are leather motorbike jackets hot?
If it’s sweltering outside then yes, you’re going to e hotter than the guy (or gal) in a T-shirt. But any bike gear is hot o a hot day. Your best bet is to buy a jacket with vents or switch your leather jacket for a perforated air-flow textile jacket.
How do you clean a leather jacket?
Regular cleaning is a good idea as it prevents dirt from turning into a stain. Sponge wipe the surface with cold water and leave to dry for 24 hours. You can also buy leather conditioners and leather cleaners which will help nourish the leather as well as clean it.
Thanks to the following websites which helped us research and write this wax motorcycle jackets review