Anyone who rides knows how it goes: once warm weather hits, the temptation to go riding in jeans and a T-shirt is sure to rise along with the temperature. But doing so risks serious injury; as the old adage goes, “Dress for the fall, not for the ride.”
Yet while it’s in your best interest to keep your skin off the pavement, dressing for the elements is essential too; if temps are high and humidity is reaching Turkish bath levels, keeping layers to a minimum without sacrificing safety (or style) is key. In that case, you need to consider summer motorcycle jackets.
Leather jackets, regardless of the number of vents and the amount of perforation, will always be a slightly heavier option, but they tend to have the most style. Synthetic textile jackets tend to be the exact opposite, running much lighter but sporting a technical look to leather’s timeless one.
But it’s entirely possible to balance safety and style — all while staying cool. Consider this list of summer motorcycle jacket options a great place to start.
What to Look for in a Summer Motorcycle Jacket
- Material: Leather will provide better protection in a crash. But it can't be perforated as much for ventilation as synthetic materials
- Ventilation: You want a lot of mesh paneling on the jacket for maximum airflow
- Armor: Make sure the padding in the jacket is CE-certified at the shoulders and elbows. Ideally, there would be a pocket to add a back protector if there isn't one included.
Alpinestars Viper V2 Air Jacket
The V2 is the improved version of the Alpinestars Viper, with a little more style and added subtlety to its more technical aspects. CE Level 2-rated armor at the shoulders and elbows is less noticeable than the old version but still has you covered in the event of an impact. The massive mesh panels on the chest and back also allow for more airflow to keep you cool.
Should the temperatures take a dip and you don’t need maximum cooling, the Viper comes with a removable windbreaker liner. Luckily, the V2 comes with a zippered pocket on the lower back on the outside of the jacket, so you can store the liner when you don’t need it. And as a bonus, the Alpinestars Viper V2 is the most affordable option on the list.
Belstaff Temple Jacket
Belstaff is known for its leather and waxed canvas jackets, but you’ll be sweating gallons if you try to stick out the summer in your Tourist Trophy. For the warmer months, Belstaff has the Temple Jacket, a lightweight nylon shell with a mesh section along the arms for airflow.
Although it’s made from nylon, Belstaff still managed to translate its classic two-pocket, vintage moto jacket style to the technical construction — an achievement in its own right.
Aether Draft Mesh Jacket
Aether held off on creating a mesh motorcycle jacket for a long time — mainly because the material naturally lends itself to more tactical looks, which isn’t the brand’s M.O at all. As the company’s first mesh jacket, the Draft keeps with the minimalist, understated style Aether is known for, while still providing the full airflow benefits of the porous material.
The Draft also comes with a water and wind-resistant outer shell that stores in a zippered pouch in the back — the better to deal with the porous downsides of mesh jackets in inclement weather. The Draft isn’t canvas or leather as we’ve come to expect from them, but it’s undeniably Aether.
Dainese Fighter Perforated Leather Jacket
As a relatively heavy leather jacket, the Fighter should, in theory, have the toughest job of all the picks on this list keeping a rider cool. But Dainese used perforations throughout nearly the entire front and back of the jacket to maximize airflow; there are even extra perforated panels on the underside of the arms for increased circulation. Plus, when the weather gets chilly, you can pop the removable thermal liner back in for added warmth.
If you’re looking for sleek style but don’t want to sweat to death before you reach your destination, the Dainese Fighter Perforated Jacket is the way to go this summer.
REV'IT Eclipse Jacket
REV'IT's Eclipse jacket is a more affordable — but still stylish — mesh and polyester option. The jacket is made from durable 600D polyester. It comes with Knox CE Level 1 armor at the shoulders and elbows and comes equipped to hold a CE Level 2 SeeSoft back protector (sold separately).
If being lightweight and looking great weren't enough, the REV'IT Eclipse is also a very affordable option — yes, such a thing still exists — at less than $200.