The summer months are finally upon us, which means it’s time to squeeze in as many motorcycle rides as humanly possible! Be it a weekend romp with your riding buddies on a ribbon of asphalt only locals know or a cross-country trip to your beloved rally, summer is a motorcyclist’s favorite time of the year. Unless it’s 100 degrees out and the only motorcycle jacket you have happens to be a chunk of black leather that weighs almost 10 pounds!
Getting baked alive in a jacket with no ventilation does not make for an enjoyable motorcycle ride. Luckily, there’s plenty of options out there which will make for a much more enjoyable riding experience, so we put together a handy little list of some of the best summer motorcycle jackets, five for men and five for women. Because even though it may be hot out, it’s still important to gear up. Accidents happen even to the most experienced riders, so it’s smart to play it on the safe side and dress for the ride.
I’ve worn plenty of Alpinestars jackets in the past and have always been impressed with their quality. They last forever, the materials Alpinestars uses is always top-notch, and styling is always on-point. One helpful tip when ordering based on personal experience – they do tend to run a little small, so you might consider ordering a size-up.
Based on its cut and style, Alpinestars SP-1 Airflow Leather Jacket definitely leans to the sport side of the equation. Pre-curved elbows, extra protection in the shoulders, internal pockets for chest and back protection (unfortunately sold separately) and flexible accordion panels in the elbows and shoulders. The majority of the jacket is made of 1.3mm premium leather that’s perforated in front and back. You can open up the sleeves, too, to channel a little more air up the arms if you’re wearing shorty gloves. The stretchy material under the arms and down the sides is a poly-textile material, and the collar and cuffs have mesh inserts for comfort and breathability. As far as summer jackets go, at $439.95 it’s on the higher end of the sliding scale but will undoubtedly last for years. Looks sharp, too. Cue ZZ Top, “’Cause every girl crazy ‘bout a sharped dressed man.”
The Alpinestars Eloise Air Black Jacket is a subtly styled jacket that’s made of poly-textile material so it’s lightweight. The majority of it is perforated so it should provide consistent airflow. It has CE-certified protection built-in to the elbows and shoulders and has pockets in the inner liner for chest and back armor. It comes from the factory with PE foam padding in the chest and back, but if you want legit armor, you’ll have to purchase it separately. The Eloise Air Black Jacket has pre-curved sleeves and is cinched at the waist and wider at the hips and breasts. It’s also a little longer in back so it comes down over a rider’s lumbar area if they’re sitting in an upright riding position. This jacket is definitely suited for summer riding at an attractive price point right at two Benjamins.
Speed and Strength’s Midnight Express Black Mesh Jacket is a combination of mesh and solid textile panels. The mesh is big compared to the Alpinestars SP-1’s small perfs, so it will undoubtedly allow generous amounts of air to flow through. Removable Vault C.E.-approved shoulder, elbow and spine protectors are part of the package, a bonus considering the jacket lists for only $129.95. The Speed and Strength Midnight Express Black Mesh Jacket has virtually no collar, a small padded roll of fabric in its place. The Midnight Express has both waist and sleeve adjusters to dial-in fit and the all-black jacket is balanced by a little reflective trim so riders aren’t invisible at night. Speed and Strength serves up a lightweight summer motorcycle jacket at a no-hassle price.
Speed and Strength Women’s Sinfully Sweet Black Mesh Jacket has a super-stretch fit thanks to its combination of “Fierce Mesh” and textile. While the upper chest, shoulders and upper arms are solid, the forearms are heavily meshed and the weave in the chest and back is breathable, too. There’s two adjustable Velcro tabs at the waist and wrist and it has belt loops so you can attach riding pants to it. Tucked discreetly inside the jacket is an Armed Response concealed carry pocket. The Speed and Strength logos and graphics are reflective, as is the trim, but otherwise the jacket is dark as night. Styling itself has a bit of the Dark Knight to it as well.
Talk about bang for your buck, the Olympia Moto Sports Women’s Airglide 5 Mesh Tech Neon Yellow Jacket benefits riders on several levels. The outer layer is made from a combination of Cordura and ballistic nylon mesh. The mesh panels are strategically located front and center in the torso, on the sides and underneath the arms to help keep you cool. The protective panels are 500 denier Cordura. What’s really attractive about this jacket is its waterproof, breathable rain jacket that can either be worn over or under the main jacket. Olympia also says it can be worn alone. It has a removable full-sleeve thermal layer with Thermolite insulation as well that can be zipped into the main shell or the rain jacket. The Olympia Moto Sports Airglide 5 has a comfortable mesh airflow lining. Removable CE-approved elbow, shoulder and back armor come standard. The final benefit is the high visibility the neon yellow jacket provides thanks to 3M Scotchlite reflective piping on the front, sides and back. Multi-layered yet built to vent well and be seen, the Olympia Moto Sports Women’s Airglide 5 Mesh Tech Neon Yellow Jacket is a multi-faceted addition to your gear bag for $289.99.
If you live in a brutally hot area where you might benefit from a bit more cooling than the average rider, the entire torso and back of Icon’s Men’s Mesh AF Black Jacket is meshed for maximum airflow. The arms also have an above average amount of breathable mesh. The Mesh AF is made of lightweight textile, comes with pre-curved arms and has what Icon calls its figure-hugging Attack Fit. Zippers at the sleeves can be opened up to allow a little more air to circulate through while each arm has two straps to tailor in that figure-hugging fit. A buck-eighty gets you D30 shoulder, elbow and back armor. If you’re in need of maximum airflow, look no further than Icon’s Mesh AF Jacket.
The Firstgear Women’s Contour Air Mesh Silver Jacket has what’s called a poly-mesh main construction whereas the chest area is textile while the sides and underside of the arms is breathable mesh. It also has a couple of zippered vents in the shoulders to increase airflow. A waterproof, breathable, removable liner is part of the Firstgear Countour Air Mesh package. So is CE Level 1 Knox elbow and shoulder pads.
The jacket has abrasion-resistant panels in the elbows, too. Its collar is taller than some of the others, so it’ll be a little toastier around the neck. The Contour Air Mesh has a zipper at the waist so it can mate up with a set of Firstgear riding pants, which is handy because the jacket sports a short cut to it. Reflective accents round out a solid everyday riding jacket with a midrange price tag of $229.99.
If you’re looking for something a little different than the standard looking motorcycle jacket, the Roland Sands Design Men’s Duro Perf Waxed Cotton Black Jacket might just be right up your alley. It’s got what RSD calls a “café” style with a stand-up snap collar. The jacket’s made of waxed cotton panels, which gives it a unique texture. The panels in the torso and the underside of the arms are perforated, the small holes applied by laser no less, a process RSD claims “maintains the tensile strength and abrasion resistance of the material.” The arms are pre-curved while there’s a little extra length out back to minimize jacket creep if you’re in a leaned-forward sport or a clip-on café riding position. The RSD Duro Perf Jacket has some big ol’ pockets for those who like to fill ‘em up (like me). CE-1 Knox elbow and shoulder armor is included in the $350 price tag, but you’ll have to dig a little deeper in your pockets for a back protector because it doesn’t come standard.
The main shell of Alpinestars T-GP Plus R v2 Air Jacket is made of durable Denier polyester combined with mesh panels on the torso and arms. A full mesh lining facilitates the cooling flow and it has a breathable 3D mesh collar as well. Protection comes in the form of lightweight CE-certified elbow and shoulder protectors while the chest and back have PE foam padding, but upgrading it is the owner’s onus. It does come with a little extra protection in the shoulders though in the form of a molded TPU guard stitched under the fabric. The Alpinestars T-GP Plus v2 Air Jacket has Velcro wrist cuffs and a Velcro/D-ring combo at the waist to adjust fit until it’s “just right.” While a splash of white will catch your eye during the day, reflective piping will help people see you at night. Italian panache comes complimentary, but not until you shell out the $239.95 asking price.
Talk about perf! The large mesh in the chest area of the Joe Rocket Women’s Cleo 2.2 Wine Jacket has them all beat. Joe Rocket calls it FreeAir mesh and we see why. The fact that it doesn’t have a collar should keep the neck area nice and breezy, too. A textile strip does run up the arms to the shoulders, so it’s not quite all easy-breezy. Two-toned with fresh graphics on the arms and a cute cut to it, tapered at the waistline and long in front and back, the Cleo 2.2 Wine Jacket brings a little pizzazz to the party. It has CE-approved armor in the shoulder and elbows and a pocket for a spine protector but comes from the factory with just a pad. The jacket also features Joe Rocket’s 9-point SureFit system. A removable waterproof liner is included, sugaring up the deal in a sweet summer motorcycle jacket that will set you back only $166.49.