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Leather or Not? How to Choose the Right Motorcycle Jacket for You

As a motorcycle rider, you have the right to choose whether or not to wear a motorcycle jacket. If you're the jacket-wearing type, you're aware that buying a motorcycle jacket can be overwhelming. There are hundreds of styles and colors to choose from. And then, there is the big question: leather or synthetic?

There is no perfect answer. It depends on you, the climate, and your riding style.

Let’s consider the climate first. In Wisconsin, we need to worry more about the cold than the heat. But if you do a lot of riding out-of-state in hot climates, you may want a synthetic jacket with an airflow system designed to keep you cool. Some airflow jackets are available with cordura (ballistic nylon) patches to provide extra protection from injury.

For most Wisconsin motorcycle riding, a leather riding jacket is just fine. But an all-weather synthetic jacket is also an option. Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

Advantages of Leather Motorcycle Jackets

  • Leather offers the best protection from abrasion in a Milwaukee motorcycle accident
  • Leather is very wind-resistant
  • Leather will last for decades with proper care
  • A good leather jacket is less expensive than a high-end synthetic jacket
  • Leather is available in a variety of styles and colors
  • Leather jackets are available with zip-in liners for extra warmth
  • Leather hides dirt
  • Leather can be worn when not riding
  • Leather has that cool, retro Fonz style

Disadvantages of Leather Motorcycle Jackets

  • A leather jacket may be stiff until it is broken in
  • Leather jackets are heavier than synthetic jackets
  • Leather is not completely waterproof. You will need to cover your jacket with rain gear in very wet weather
  • Leather is not as warm as a full-season synthetic jacket

Advantages of Synthetic Motorcycle Jackets (Keprotec, Cordura, Dynatec)

  • Synthetic jackets are available in a rainbow of easy-to-see colors
  • Synthetic jackets usually have reflective trim
  • Synthetic jackets can be 100 percent waterproof
  • Synthetics are available with a zip-in lining for warmth in cold weather
  • Synthetic jackets are lighter weight than leather jackets
  • Synthetic jackets are available in “airflow” fabrics for hot weather

Disadvantages of Synthetic Motorcycle Jackets

  • Synthetic materials do not last as long as leather
  • Styles can quickly become dated
  • Synthetic jackets show dirt and are difficult to clean
  • Synthetic jackets should not be worn when not riding
  • Synthetic jackets tend to be expensive

The right jacket for you depends on your needs and your style. If you tour around the country, an all-season synthetic may be right for you. If you prefer a classic look while you ride the Wisconsin roads, leather may be your best choice.

And, while we’re talking style, don’t forget to request your FREE Watch for Motorcycles bumper sticker.

The Wisconsin motorcycle lawyers at Hupy and Abraham provide legal help for victims of motorcycle accidents in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. To schedule an appointment, call us at 800-800-5678.

Jason F. Abraham
Managing Partner, Hupy and Abraham