Best Street Motorcycle Jackets of 2016
I’m particularly thinking of urban riders like myself here. Sure I need an adventure jacket when I’m taking off for six days, and a racing jacket when I’m doing a night at the track. But for zipping around Montreal – meh. Just give me something waterproof and vented that won’t make me look like a Stormtrooper.
So – the Alpinestars Scion Waterproof Jacket. It’s essentially a rain shell with body armour and I love it. Obviously wet weather isn’t a problem, there’s also room to layer underneath when it gets cold and because the material is so thin and airy, it actually breathes decently in hot weather.
The Scion looks slick and understated; you actually wouldn’t know this was a piece of motorcycle gear and that’s the main reason I want to buy it.
Armouring is decent. CE-approved elbows and shoulders, while the back protector is good and bad. On the one hand, this is the largest back protector I’ve ever seen. It’s basically a mattress so coverage is not an issue. But the material is foam so I’d probably replace it eventually.
The Scion might bump well, but it slides like crap. The abrasion resistance of this material is – literally – almost nothing. I guess making a soft, flexy and breathable rain shell kind of necessitates that it won’t slide well. You can’t win ‘em all.
Features are fine. These front pockets are really tall. I’m not sure if that’s useful or if it just looks a bit weird. Stash pocket on the chest, two cargo pockets on the inside and this device pocket. On the back, these two vents annoy me. I like that they exist, but they’re not long enough to be major exhausts and if it’s supposed to be an armpit vent then it should be about four inches higher.
The hood is cool though. Fully detachable, you can also use this Velcro tab to hold it down while riding. Alpinestars says you can tuck it into the collar as well but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how to make that happen. Please comment below if you know how ‘cause I’m totally lost here.
Fitment-wise, this thing is one big elastic band. Cinches on the waist, around the torso, Velcro volume adjusters on the arms and cuffs and there are pull tabs that tighten down the upper zipper if you want to ride with the jacket partway open. On the back of the hood there’s an elastic cord too, which makes me look like a dork but I’d probably be grateful for it in a hurricane.
I’m 6”3, 175 pounds and this large fits me perfect. I wish the jacket wasn’t 250 dollars – that’s a bit much for a glorified rain shell. But I love the concept and it works great as an urban riding jacket.
River Road Laughlin
Another option that I’m a big fan of is the Laughlin from River Road. This one made my top cruiser jackets list and it makes this one too. If I had more places to rave about the jacket, I would.
What we’re looking at is a polyester and nylon blend that is treated to be water resistant. Not waterproof, mind you. But it’s a solid water resistance that is good enough for damp commutes. The material looks and feels like a Carhartt jacket and on that note, the whole garment is pretty casual. The Laughlin looks natural on and off the motorcycle and that’s the main reason I’d want to commute in it.
What this jacket does really well is temperature control. We have venting above the chest pockets and two big exhausts on the rear. But more than that, this material is pretty breathable all over. If you keep the full-sleeve thermal liner in place, it can also be toasty. I noticed this plasticized backing to the liner, which you don’t always get from river road. That takes the bite out of the wind and also acts as a sort of Plan-B if the shell soaks through.
The Laughlin is warm enough for a 0-degree ride to work in the morning, and cool enough for a +30 ride home.
Features are extraordinarily ordinary on this guy: two lower hand pockets, two snapped chest pouches, these vents can double as pockets as well. And on the inside, we have a stash pocket, a cargo pocket and a pouch … so pretty run of the mill there. The only things that stood out to me were that the pockets are mirrored on the jacket body underneath, and that there are snaps under the collar to keep it from flapping in the wind.
For a 200-dollar jacket, I think that the armoring is pretty sweet. CE approved elbows and shoulders, with an EVA foam back pad. EVA isn’t like other kinds of foam – it has a better impact absorption and doesn’t crack or degrade as much over time. You could upgrade it, but I probably wouldn’t bother.
Fitment-wise, the Laughlin isn’t quite as boxy as other River Road jackets. And for a broomstick like me, that’s a good thing. This is a medium, I have the snap adjusters done up around the waist and cuffs, and it’s a good fit.
Now – we’ve seen two practical city jackets. One disguises itself as a rain shell, and another chameleons as a working jacket.
The Klim Overland doesn’t try as hard to blend in. If I’m being honest with myself, this pretty much looks like a motorcycling jacket. But I love that Klim kept it muted. The Overland is slim, it’s lightweight, the pockets, features and logos are understated. I’d definitely be comfortable grocery shopping in it, I could meet my wife at Starbucks without feeling like a moto geek … and I’d certainly show up to work in it, but then again I do work at FortNine.
So the Klim is just subtle enough to work as an urban jacket. But everywhere else it exceeds what I would ask of it. With a Gore-Tex construction, it’s totally waterproof and totally breathable. Klim threw two colossal torso vents on the front, and two mammoth exhausts on the rear just to show off.
For pocketing, we get two front hand pockets and this chest pocket. Weirdly enough, Klim failed to stitch Gore-Tex into here so you’ll have to go inside if you want a truly waterproof place for your iPhone … and there it is. I bet you noticed that orange in here, I always love to see orange. It means D3O viscoelastic armoring – spine, shoulders, elbows – CE Level 1 certified all the way around.
I like to think of this jacket as a baby Badlands. Same Gore-Tex waterproofing and breathability, same exceptional build quality, same use of D3O armouring, same inclination towards dual-sport and adventure riding. But while the Klim Badlands has a bazillion features and costs a bazillion dollars … the Overland is trimmed down to the essentials: waterproof, breathable, comfortable, safe.
It’s good enough for the longest and gnarliest of commutes, but you won’t arrive looking like you’ve come from Dakar.
By keeping this jacket simpler, Klim has kept it slimmer and lighter too. 840-denier Cordura is reserved for high impact zones, so most of the jacket is movable and soft. I’m 6”3, 175lbs and this large is probably a half size too big on me. It still works though, because I have it cinched up with shock cords at the waist and collar, and Velcro around the arms and cuffs. I should be thankful for the extra layering room anyway, because there’s no thermal liner in this guy.
The Klim Overland isn’t the slickest-looking jacket for city riding. But it’s subtle enough and it’s definitely the most capable of all the options on my list. It better be too, because it costs 540 bucks.
And that’s it for my favorite street and commuting jackets! Product links down below, comments below that, and thank you guys very much for watching.