Best Cruiser Motorcycle Jackets of 2017
Hello! I’m RyanF9 and these are my favourite cruiser jackets.
First is a killer option for cruisers who ride without armour: the Black Brand Cutthroat.
Always buy a jacket the way you want to wear it. This Cutthroat was sold without pads, so it fits without pads. The shoulders are slim, the back isn’t baggy… Black Brand didn’t even sew armour pockets into the mesh liner, because they know this leather is cut to work without it.
On that note, the cowhide is thick – definitely north of 1.2mm. So even without a suit of armour’s impact protection, the sliding safety is admirable.
The cutthroat flows air better than most, with two big exhaust vents, two bicep vents and these chest vents, which can double as pockets. Also the cuffs have zipper gussets, and undoing those will get some air up your sleeves.
Staying warm is more of a challenge. This snap-out quilted liner is filled with hopes and dreams and not much else. I had to layer a hoodie underneath during the Low Rider S review, since we were filming in the middle of the night and the Cutthroat’s insulation is so minimal.
A couple complaints! Black Brand is Tucker’s new private label, replacing River Road which I doubt anyone will miss but unfortunately BB got rid of the cargo pockets that RR used to provide. How is Jax Teller going to store his handgun now?
Also Black Brand’s mascot is a skull, which is about as trendy as platform shoes and tie die. The love affair between cruisers and “badass” skulls is over – our penises aren’t that small anymore. Maybe I can stomach a few on the liner but to put skulls on the waist adjustment snaps and the zipper… you’re killin’ me Black Brand.
Finally, the leather is top grain so it won’t develop a natural patina over time. That’s a bummer for an heirloom-quality piece. But I still think this is the best armour-free jacket for 400 bucks and it fits great. I’m 6”3 with a 39-inch chest, and this medium is much less box-y than in the River Road days.
Next up is my fully-armoured choice – the Joe Rocket Richmond.
Before you freak out at me for recommending a purple cruiser jacket, know two things!
I’m told that this is actually “oxblood.” And it also comes in a very ordinary shade of black, so don’t stress.
Back to the reason I chose it – the Richmond is reinforced with a full suite of Vault CE-approved armour: elbows, shoulders and back. Just look at the size of this back plate – you could survive the Blitz under here.
It also has really solid belt loops, meaning you can hook the jacket to your pants and prevent it from riding up. That’s a huge safety benefit if you go for a slide – the world would be a better place if we saw those more often.
Pockets are boring – two hand, one chest, one napoleon. Ventilation is even worse – there isn’t any.
But the leather isn’t terribly thick, so this is still a comfortable jacket for middle temperatures. And unlike Black Brand, Joe Rocket does a gorgeous job of branding. The button closures at the cuffs, waist adjusters and neck are all stamped with a maple leaf. And on the right arm and behind the neck, “Rocket” appears in the underlying un-dyed leather. Pure class.
Fitment-wise, I wear a medium in Joe Rocket, which fits my 39” chest just fine. At 6”3 the arms are a bit short, but the Richmond has shoulder gussets, which help to keep the sleeves down when I ride. I’d also like to draw your attention to the quilted leather on each shoulder and at the lower back. No technical benefit at all – in fact the seams make it weaker – but damn that looks good. For 500 bucks, this is the best-looking fully-armoured cruiser jacket.
Now, what if I need a sportier cut from my cruiser jacket? Maybe I ride a café racer, a Harley sportster… whatever it is it necessitates a slightly tucked riding position.
The Alpinestars Oscar Charlie fits that stance well. It’s trim and slim – similar to A-stars’ sport jackets. These waist buckles even have three stops, which gives more fit precision than other leather jackets. Plus I get Alpinestars’ ultra-thin bio armour in the elbows and shoulders, so that keeps it tight. And these pre-curved sleeves are no strangers to reaching for clip-ons.
All in all, this is a great sport-cruiser jacket. Last year I recommended the Joe Rocket V-Sport instead, which I doubt any of you will remember. And to be honest, that’s still the better jacket, especially with its full back protector compared to Oscar Charlie’s empty pocket. But the V-Sport is getting long in the tooth so looking forward – this is the best option I see.
Now there’s an elephant in the room and he’s wearing skinny jeans because yes, this is a hipster style – the brown version even moreso. But remember that the original café racers were some of the most ballsy riders in history – doing 100mph on hacked-up brit bikes. These vintage stripes point to them, not the Gen-Y wannabes.
Moving inside, I get a removable flannel liner. 80g insulation won’t be enough for march in Montreal, but it looks nice and feels comfy. Then I get a napoleon pocket plus three of those cargo pockets I was nattering about earlier. One of them is even finished in leather trim and all of them are accessible through the flannel layer.
My one complaint is the patching. This shoulder badge is fine, but the chest patch looks like it’s been chewed on. The rest of the jacket isn’t that distressed, so this is just uncalled for.
Fitment-wise, the Oscar Charlie has really long arms. You won’t run out of sleeve in a reached-forward riding position, which is why this is such a great sport-cruising jacket. Leather thickness is just south of 1.1mm, less than race grade so if you’re planning on going for a slide at 300km/h, don’t. Also this is full grain stuff that will develop a patina over years of use. Whether that makes it any easier to drop 700 bucks for Italian leather, I’m not sure.
Now, a cheap option.
This is the Z1R 45 and it MSRPs below 300 bucks, which is rare because cows are expensive.
Basically we’re looking at that Black Brand Cutthroat all over again. Armour-free, thick 1.2-1.3mm cowhide, great ventilation on chest, biceps and back, and a removable thermal liner that is more show than go.
Z1R does embarrass Black Brand in a few places. This piping is reflective, which is a safety benefit that BB forgot. Also there’s some ventilation holes under the armpits – not the most elegant solution but damn it makes a big difference for staying cool. Plus I have zippers for getting fat and a dropped back for covering my ass… neither of which came on the Cutthroat.
Also remember how Black Brand failed to offer those cargo pockets. Well Z1R gives me two – trimmed in leather. And they even have these internal elastic loops... although for the life of me I can’t imagine what they’re for.
So Z1R has pulled their usual move and undercut the competition. This is an aggressively underpriced jacket that consistently exceeds people’s expectations.
Only downside is that the cowhide doesn’t feel quite as nice. For some people, that’s all that matters when buying a leather jacket. The fit is good – I’m 6”3 with a 39” chest, wearing a medium. The arms are a tad short, but Z1R gave the 45 shoulder gussets, which keeps my sleeves down.
My two textile favourites are the same as last year. So watch the old video if you want a relaxed rundown, otherwise prepare for some speedy info.
Icon 1000 Basehawk – looks and feels like a hoodie. The main chassis is stretch fabric, cinched tight with elastics for a slim fit. Bigger guys should size up, but for scrawny folk this will be the most comfortable armoured jacket you’ll ever wear. Speaking of which, full D3O viscoelastic padding in elbows, shoulders and back. Plus the sliding zones are done in leather and ballistic nylon.
Cock-ups include not putting leather on the lower back… doesn’t Icon know most of us slide on our asses? Also the hood isn’t removable and even with the cinches tight, it slaps my helmet at speed. Then there’s amazing ventilation on the chest, above each shoulder and under the arm. But Icon forget to put an exhaust slit so the Basehawk is needlessly stuffy.
Then we have the Black Brand Street Team - replacement for the River Road Laughlin, which itself was a doppelganger for a Carhartt jacket. It has that casual, workman’s style, especially in the brown colourway which I much prefer to this dull black. The jacket has many jacket things, including a snap collar that won’t slap my face, reflective piping and looky-here Icon – exhaust vents.
Water-resistant nylon and polyester make this the best jacket on my list for getting wet. The liner is 37.5 Cocona – a fancy fabric that keeps you cool – whereas the old Laughlin had a thermal liner for staying warm. Apples and oranges really, so I can’t say which is better. But at least this new liner can fold into my jacket pocket. Also different from the old version is armour – Black Brand gives us a full D30 suite and that’s a big improvement.
The buttons? Oh for Pete’s sake … enough with the ruddy skulls already. First thing I’m gonna do is take a file to this shit.
Both of my non-leather options cost 350 dollars, give or take, meaning that they’re both slightly overpriced.
And that’s it for my favourite cruiser jackets. Thanks for watching.