In terms of protection in the saddle, few fabrics can hold a candle to leather. A proper hide offers excellent abrasion resistance, flexes with the body and keeps the harshest elements out. Sliding your arms into a leather motorcycle jacket is also one of the quickest paths to cool we know: Brando, Dean, McQueen, Pitt, Beckham, Clooney — the most iconic and stylish riders have continued to embrace this truth. The confidence a leather motorcycle jacket delivers in the saddle is directly proportional to the levels of swagger its wearer can exude on the town — provided said jacket isn’t fuchsia, covered in sponsorship patches and sporting streamers. Here are the five best leather motorcycle jackets on the market today.

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Pagnol Moto M1

The Rakish Racer
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The Pagnol Moto M1 is the beautiful product of two designers getting together to sort out some frustration with feet firmly planted on pegs. Displeased with the cut and style of the protective options laid out for them, Paulo Rosas and James Yang set out to create a jacket with a timeless look and slimmer cut that would spoil the most discerning urban riders. This is an obvious example of where two heads are better than one.

In the Saddle:

The M1 fits slim, especially in the forearms. However, integrated articulated panels in the back and at the elbows allow a rider’s tuck. Elasticized reliefs in the armpit make movements easy (provided you don’t bench Goldwings) and provide ventilation. Pockets are on the small side and the main zipper could use a pull to make gloved operation easier, but it stays put like a second skin and looks incredible.

On the Town:

Paired with your favorite selvedge denim and a great pair of boots, the M1 delivers a timeless look — it’s arguably the most stylish of our selections. The pre-patinated finish of the cowhide leather gives the M1 a rugged appeal while the slim silhouette is both modern and refined. The lack of integrated armor in the elbows is welcomed here but the padding at the shoulders needs time to break in and soften up. That shouldn’t be an issue, as the M1 won’t rest on your hanger very often.

Spidi Dirty Seven

Polished Test Pilots Only
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Crafted from buffalo (bison) leather and featuring integrated CE Force Tech armor in the shoulders and elbows, the Dirty Seven jacket from Spidi takes rider protection seriously. Like many of Spidi’s products, the Dirty Seven underwent a rigorous testing process in Spidi’s in-house Safety Lab to ensure it would stand up to exaggerated use and abuse and keep even the most hardcore riders out there protected and looking good.

In the Saddle:

If Top Gun 2 ever gets the green light, Maverick will be wearing the Dirty Seven when the Tomcat’s parked and he hops on his bike. Sleeves are molded and fully articulated via relief panels at the shoulder blades, enabling comfort in multiple riding positions, and feature zippered cuffs to seal out elements. A snap-in thermal liner is welcomed for fall riding, as is the standout feature: a detachable, button-down zipper garage. Attached at the collar, it keeps you from being backhanded every time you speed away.

On the Town:

There is an undeniable, appealingly classic old-school bomber style about the Dirty Seven. Whether you choose to keep the collar folded down or pop it up, the jacket readily compliments denim, chinos or wool trousers; the muted sheen of the soft buffalo leather and unobtrusive armor hide its technical proficiencies so that they don’t clash with more casual articles. Paired with some aviators, a silk scarf and that lovin’ feeling, you’ll never crash and burn.

Perfecto: The One That Started It All

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The Schott Perfecto is credited as the first leather motorcycle-specific jacket — and the first to feature zippers. It was introduced in 1928. The creation of Russian immigrant Irving Schott, the Perfecto earned its stripes on the backs of returning troops and former fly-boys with a penchant for two-wheeled speed. It earned its fame, however, on the silver screen: Motorcycling’s most iconic movie, The Wild One, set a timeless trend in motion as a Perfecto 618-clad Marlon Brando defined the “biker” style. That notoriety even caused some retailers to ban sales of the Perfecto, cementing its status in motorcycling culture.

Roland Sands Design The Ronin

The Urbane Warrior
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The Ronin might just be the perfect urban moto jacket, looking just as good out of the saddle as in it. But with its .9mm-1.1mm waxed cowhide body multi-panel, pre-curved sleeves, zipped chest and side pockets and dropped rear hem, it’s primarily geared towards riders. It’s a bit more on the fitted side, but that’s more than fine since the perforations in the sleeves and body make it more of a mild weather jacket, anyway. It accepts Roland Sands Design armor in the back and elbows, making it as practical as it is handsome.

In the Saddle:

The Ronin is a moto jacket you can throw on for just about any ride short of serious racing, dirt riding or enduro. The paneled sleeves make any riding position easy, and the thickness of the leather is great for mild to slightly cool weather. The fit isn’t overly generous, but there’s room for layering if needed. Everything is made easy to use with gloves, including the leather-tabbed zippers on the pockets, cuffs and sleeves, as well as on the snap collar. Big interior mesh pockets keep your gear close, though the zippered hand pockets could use a bit more width at entry and slightly more depth.

On the Town:

The Ronin might even get more glances than your bike. Its slimmer cut looks just as slick for a night out as it does carving the backroads. Just don’t eat too much at dinner; anyone with a beer gut will likely feel slightly uncomfortable in this trim jacket. The Ronin’s best style partners are jeans, a t-shirt, boots, a classic pair of aviators and a couple of days’ worth of facial hair.

Rev’It The Redhook

Best for the Vogue Vintagent
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Rev’It excels at delivering refined form and protective function in their moto gear while hitting an affordable price point. The Redhook pays homage to the vintage racing scene with a style that would fit right in around its namesake neighborhood while delivering modern-day comfort and protection for today’s cafe racers. The 100 percent Arizona cowhide shell provides excellent abrasion resistance while integrated, flexible Knox CE-certified armor shrugs off impacts.

In the Saddle:

The Redhook is packed with essential rider-centric features like pre-curved arms, zippered cuffs, a Napoleon pocket and a rear-attachment zip that works with Rev’It’s new Safeway Belt to create a two-piece suit. The fit is on the roomy side but not overly so: there are button-down adjusters at the waist and neck to provide a bit of tailoring. A zip-in liner kept me warm on the road well into late November and every zipper is accessible with gloved hands.

On the Town:

The Redhook’s pebbled Arizona cowhide is a high-quality leather that should retain its good looks over time. That being said it won’t patinate like softer hides. However, details like the quilted shoulders, accentuated pocket bolstering and slimmer European cut should ensure that it logs as many looks as it does miles. The black version is probably more versatile, but the richness of the brown that Rev’It chose gives the Redhook instant hipster vintage appeal.

Icon 1000 Chapter Jacket

Best for the High-Class Hooligan
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The Icon 1000 product line is a marked departure for the Portland, OR-based outfit. Instead of being decorated with sponsorship patches and electric colorways, products bearing Icon 1000 designation are subtle and refined. And despite being last year’s model, the Chapter Jacket from the Icon 1000 line remains a high-water mark in the leather moto jacket field. Featuring a soft and supple Brazillian cowhide exterior and a silky smooth, heavily detailed, contrasting liner, the Chapter is proof that hooligans can rub elbows with high society.

In the Saddle:

The Chapter is the only jacket in this collection to come equipped with a full complement of (D3O) armor — including a back protector. That alone instills an air of confidence when riding around. Elongated, radial arms sit perfectly when behind the dials and the perforated detailing on the chest and sides provides just enough ventilation on warmer days. A zip-in vest is included for cooler weather, as is a leather wallet, complete with an emergency contact card — just in case.

On the Town:

Although other colors are available, Cutter Brown and Pursuit Black are the most classically versatile in terms of style. The lightly waxed brown version has been completely sold out for months; regardless, the drum-dyed black finish is damned exquisite and should only get better with age. The cut is slimmer than other Icon products and delivers a more tailored silhouette. The contrasting red zippers that belie every open panel may be a bit much for some, but not us.

METHODOLOGY: After pleading with our wives to justify our absence, we took to the streets to see how each moto jacket performed in full tuck. To make it up to them, we made dinner reservations and showed up, fashionably late, in the same tailored hides.