It’s a scientifically proven fact that a wax cotton motorcycle jacket makes you look at least twice as cool as you would wearing a leather jacket.
Wax jackets and motorcycling have a lot history together but the wax motorcycle jacket was made iconic when it was worn by Hollywood star Steve McQueen, pictured above.
He was an avid motorcyclist and pretty handy too. McQueen used to compete in major races like the International Six Day Trials and Baja Rally. When his acting career flourished, his movie contracts would state that he couldn’t race motorcycles but he got around this by entering races as Harvey Mushman.
You can buy cheap wax cotton jackets on Amazon or eBay but these are mostly fashion-jackets, with no CE-approved armour, no back padding and more often than not, they won’t be built to withstand the rigours of motorcycling, with single-stitched seams and a lack of proper waterproofing.
The jackets we have picked for this guide are all made by motorcycle brands, offering great protection and safety and built to last.
We can all trade on a bit of ‘McQueen cool’ by wearing a classic-looking wax cotton jacket to our local biker meet or when we’re out on our modern retro or cafe racer.
I’m fairly sure the great man would approve.
Waterproof and featuring CE armour
This classic looking dry-waxed cotton jacket by Held features CE approved armour in the shoulders and elbows with the option to add chest and back protectors. Contains connecting zip for attaching Held jeans and waist, arm and cuff adjusters for a more tailored fit. The khaki colour and sleek design bring a modern twist to a classic style.
Fully waterproof, loads of great features
At under £200, this quality wax cotton jacket is a great buy. Featuring renowned Halley Stevenson waxed cotton outer, a thermal-quilted removable liner, CE armour in the elbows and shoulders, internal and external pockets with waterproof zips. It’s a quality everyday motorcycle jacket but with a stylish wax-cotton vintage look.
The closest you’ll get to being Steve
At £550, there’s no denying this Belstaff jacket is expensive but it’s made with quality materials and from the same brand that McQueen himself wore. Made from heavy-duty soy-waxed cotton, it features removable D3O shoulder and elbow armour, a Miporex waterproof membrane, four stormproof outer pockets. It already looks vintage but it’s the sort of jacket that will get better with age.
Women’s Wax Motorcycle Jackets
There’s a great selection of waxed cotton 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.
Featuring removable fur collar and CE armour
Coming in at under £200 this vintage-look waxed cotton jacket by Spada is really good value for money. Waterproof and featuring a tartan-patterned thermal liner, waist adjusters, a removable fur collar, CE-approved armour in the shoulders and elbows and vintage-look brass buckets and poppers. Top quality protection with ’60s style.
CE Approval for Motorcycle Jackets
There are a couple of standards that your motorcycle clothing can be tested to. Either EN17092 or EN13595.
It’s important to understand that you don’t have to wear kit that is tested to this standard. You can ride in a T-shirt for example and that doesn’t have CE approval.
However if you motorcycle clothing from a retailer it is classed as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and therefore requires CE approval.
For motorcycle jackets (and trousers, jeans and leather suits) the standard is the same. Either EN13595 (this is the old standard) and the levels are Level 1 or 2. Or it’s tested to the new standard EN17092. The new standard has ratings from AAA (the best) to C. Any ‘A’ rating means it has been tested to an impact and abrasion standard. If it is B-rated it provides the same level of abrasion protection as an A rated garment but without impact protection and anything C rated designates it has been designed to hold impact protection. The minimum you want is an A rated garment.
Wax cotton FAQs
How do you clean a wax cotton 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 don’t need to use any chemicals and you definitely shouldn’t wash it in a washing machine or tumble dry it.
Can you re-waterproof a wax cotton jacket?
Most wax-cotton jackets are ‘wet’, the wax is liquid. At first, they will be wet to touch but after a few weeks of riding the jacket will be dry to touch. If you see any areas where rainwater no longer beads up, then these will need re-proofing. Buy a tin of reproofing wax, lay your jacket on a flat surface and gently warm it with a hairdryer, apply the wax and re-warm the area. Work the wax into the area using a soft cloth and then leave it to dry naturally.
Can you fix a tear in a wax cotton jacket?
If you allow the cotton to dry out it is less supple and will be at a greater risk of tearing. If your jacket does tear, you will be able to get a new patch sewn on. However, it is not likely that this area will be fully waterproof.