A stylish choice for any rider

The RSD Ronin Jacket is my favorite leather jacket tested to date. It’s certainly the most stylish. The Roland Sands Design name bequeaths an aura of “cool” but branding on the jacket is understated. Tasteful logo monikers on the button snaps are the only exterior visual clue of the jacket’s maker. A more prominent patch is sewn into the interior, but even this is blends into the design. The jacket’s trim cut, clean lines and stressed leather make for a stylish offering.

Riders will definitely look the part, but the Ronin doesn’t shirk in performance either. There’s some substance to this stylish jacket. Fit is tailored to a riding stance, long arms and articulated elbows. I would’ve preferred another inch of coverage for my lower back, particularly on bikes with a forward-leaning sporty riding stance. But that’s a minor quibble, as overall I found comfort superb. The interior satin poly liner feels cool and inviting, with decent ventilation offered by the underarm perforated panels. On hot days, I zipped the front down halfway to increase airflow.

The Ronin’s leather isn’t particularly thick, but crash protection is bolstered by easy-to-access CE-rated armor inserts. The supplemental $90 armor kit comprises a back protector and a set of shoulder and elbow inserts, which I think are absolutely required for use as a real-world riding jacket. Getting the elbow insert in place is a chore, but the armor feels resilient and doesn’t overly affect fitment.

The armor inserts can be taken out quickly, making the Ronin a great looking jacket off the bike. And it looks every bit like a high-end jacket. I garnered several compliments from both riders and non-riders alike. Of the latter group, multiple positive comments were made by the fairer sex, and without any hint of sarcasm … alas, this sort of attention is a not common phenomenon for this humble reviewer, and I would submit the credit is due entirely to the RSD design team.

There are deficits to the Ronin. For starters, this is not an all-weather jacket, more of a perfect-weather-almost-every-day-in-California jacket. Get caught out in the rain and there will be tears mixed in with the raindrops if you don’t treat it with a good leather conditioner. I’ve fared pretty well with rain exposure here in Oregon, but wouldn’t pack the Ronin if foul weather is expected. But the biggest drawback to the RSD jacket is its $620 MSRP. It’s an extravagance to be sure, but it’s an extravagant jacket.