Let’s face reality here: it’s only really been in the past two decades that women’s jackets have been coming out in force. Before then, in what was historically a “male-dominated hobby,” women had to make do with either custom gear or modifying men’s gear to fit. We put the quotations there because ever since the 1970s, we know that women made up a good portion of riders, usually hovering in the 5 to 10% ridership range.
Flash forward to 2021, and now women account for about 22% of riders, worldwide. That is refreshing to see and has forced even a lot of the “old school” to recognize that there are badass ladies all over the globe that will swing a leg over and crank the right wrist. It’s also refreshing to see that in what was once traditionally a male-dominated sport, road racing and even MotoGP are seeing more and more women rising in their ranks.
What this means is that many of the big manufacturers and gear makers have had to adapt to provide proper racing suits and gear for these women. This, naturally, has led to the traditional trickle-down style of motorcycle gear from racing to street, which means that more and more jackets, pants, boots, gloves, and other pieces of gear are appearing every month.
Rev’It is one of those companies that has made women’s protective gear pretty much since their incorporation, as there are quite a few female riders in the Netherlands. On top of that, they have a history in both circuit racing and enduro racing, so both the full leather track jackets and hot weather mesh jackets are packed full of cutting-edge design.
The Eclipse is just one such example of this, with an open, flowthrough style mesh that would seem to not have any abrasion resistance at all. However, that mesh is made of polyester ripstop material, as is the main chassis of the jacket. While the solid panels are rated to 600D, the mesh itself commands a respectable 400.
With adjustable bicep and wrist closures, full YKK zippers, two external pockets, and one internal pocket, the Eclipse is also quite fashionable to boot. The armor comes in the form of Knox Flexform in both the shoulders and elbows, which feels extremely light but carries CE-rated impact protection. An optional back protector can be fitted to the jacket.
Roland Sands, with the Mia jacket, ticks off two-rider fashion styles in one go, without sacrificing any protection. The retro and cafe crowd will love the classic British asymmetrical styling, while the sport and the sport-touring crowd will love the aggressive fit with the included thermal lining that doubles as a hoodie when the leather is taken away.
That leather is one-grain style better than cowhide, as it is oiled buffalo leather at 1.0 to 1.2 mm thicknesses. In areas requiring stretch, premium-grade elastic ripstop polyester is used. The hoodie liner is also breathable and waterproof, meaning that even if you have to do a dash from the bike to your front door in a downpour, simply flip up the hood and you’ll get there dry.
Protection comes in the form of Knox micro lock CE level 2 armor at the shoulders and elbows, with the leather jacket’s inner mesh liner holding a back protector pocket for optional armor. Accordion panels at the elbows and a quilted stitch design around the shoulders allow the jacket to move freely, despite being pre-curved for a front tuck position. Ventilation comes via some very well hidden shoulder intakes and vents, which keep the jacket looking premium when zipped up.
If Roland Sands has the women’s cafe market cornered, it’s fair to say that Alpinestars, realizing there was a gap to step through, made a sporty cruiser jacket with the Alice. Carrying all the right looks of the double-breasted front flaps, the asymmetrical zipper, and the relaxed arm curvature makes this both a classic and a modern sports cruiser jacket, all in one.
Don’t let its old-school looks fool you into thinking it’s not armored to the nines. Alpinestars has included their super lightweight, breathable Nucleon Flex armor, which is certified to CE level 2, at the shoulders and elbows, with a forearm extension on the elbow armor. This is carried in a mesh-backed cowhide 1.3mm leather chassis, with a back protector pocket for optional armor.
As with other jackets of the sporting style, the thermal liner of the jacket is easily detached and serves as a hoodie. Ventilation is hidden well in the underarm stretch panels, allowing just enough air to pass to wick away heat without being overly cold.
This is a jacket that would look at home being used while riding either Honda Rebel 500 or an Indian Roadmaster. Classic, timeless styling with modern armoring deserves a spot on this list.
Roland Sands strikes again with a superb classic English cruiser jacket. Solidly in the retro cruiser fashion sense, the Riot jacket would look perfectly at home being worn in the crowd at an Iron Maiden or Judas Priest concert as much as it does astride a Royal Enfield or a Triumph Bonneville.
Much more of a summer cruise jacket, the Riot is made of microperforated top grain cowhide sourced from Blackstone, which means it is soft, supple, and abrasion resistant with a thickness of 0.9mm throughout. The asymmetrical zipper is, of course, full YKK, and is of the bronze classic style. Quilted leather highlights and aggressive cuff YKK zippers make the jacket scream “Rock n Roll!” in that quintessential British understated-but-loud way.
The jacket is also, of note, made with a very aggressive black dye process, as the color will lighten the more it is exposed to UV light until it reaches the classic light black that well-worn leather fashion jackets eventually reach. This is also the only jacket recommended on this list that does not come with pre-installed armor. However, pockets for elbow, shoulder, and back protectors are ready to accept your own choice of the best armor, from Alpinestars’ Nucleon Flexto Icon’s D3O and Rev’It’s SeeSoft.
With the increase in women’s participation in BSB, ASA, MotoGP feeder series, and the like over the past three decades, Alpinestars has had a lot of exposure to creating gear that is suitable to both genders, or those in-between genders. For the men, the T-GP Plus R v3 Air is one of the best mid-range sport and track rated jackets you can get, and by simply adding a Stella to the front of that name, that same legendary jacket is available to women.
The Stella T-GP Plus R v3 Air, apart from being one hell of a mouthful of words, is made of 600D highly abrasion-resistant polyester. Interspersed between these polyester panels, abrasion-resistant, tightly woven polyfabric mesh allows just enough air to wick away heat, but not chill you to the bone. A full mesh lining also helps boost that airflow’s effectiveness in carrying away sweat and warm air.
Protection is in the form of Alpinestars’ Nucleon Flex CE level 1 armor, with the shoulders being additionally armored with GP Lite slide shields. As sport riders will often choose between vest-style back protection or using jacket pockets, no back protector is included. However, Alpinestars has included both chest and back protector pockets, suitable for Nucleon KR-Ci CE level 2 armor.
A definite warm-weather riding winner, those that ride sportbikes where it never really snows have a go-to jacket that can be armored up as the need arises.
If you want a sport riding jacket that is both warm-weather rated and contains the abrasion resistance of leather, Dainese has you covered with the Racing 3 Perforated women’s jacket. The “mortal enemy” of Alpinestars on the MotoGP grid, Dainese uses a special treatment on all the leather they use for track and street gear, naming it “tutu leather.”
This leather is always 1.2mm or greater in thickness, while the treatment makes it highly water-resistant, supple, and reinforces the abrasion resistance through chemical bonding. And if that wasn’t enough protection for you, the stretch panels between the leather chassis panels are made of S1 bi-elastic, a Dainese and Cordura co-development that mixes the elasticity of regular polyfabric with the 500D+ abrasion resistance of pure Cordura.
The jacket is also microperforated in key areas and includes zip closure vents in the upper chest, with intake and exhaust vents on the sides of the jacket. Protection comes in the form of Dainese composite CE level II elbow and shoulder armor, with the shoulders being covered by an aluminum impact and slide plate that is mounted on a composite base, meaning the plate is replaceable. The jacket features a back protector pocket suitable for a Dainese G1 back protector, or a Dainese D1 airbag vest can be worn under the jacket itself.
It’s a premium leather and polymer jacket that passes CE EN 1621.1 and CE Category II – 89/686/EEC Directive protection standards, meaning it is ready for track use. Dainese themselves note that the jacket does tend to run on the tighter sport fit side, so they recommend buying one size up from your measurements.
If you have spent even two seconds at the local gear store’s ADV and off-road touring gear section, Klim is a name that is plastered literally everywhere. Specialists in the long-distance touring style of gear, both on- and off-road, the Artemis is a design that is not shared with any other jacket in their lineup, making this one of the very few women’s only jackets.
Named after the Ancient Greek goddess that protected nature, the Artemis does a very good job at protecting whoever is within its confines. A true three-season touring jacket, this jacket is made of Klim’s own Karbonite textile, which is rated at least 600D, and up to over 750D, abrasion-resistant across multiple certification tests. Behind the chassis sits a full GoreTex membrane layer, which itself is over a Klimatek mesh layer that acts to both wick away hot air and sweat, and supports the jacket on the body.
In making the Artemis specifically for women, Klim did not have to worry about ventilation for the male torso, so airflow has been mapped specifically for the female torso. Ventilation is controlled via two centerline chest vents, two cross-core vents, 2 forearm vents, and two bicep vents, all of which exhaust out two massive vertical back vents.
Protection beyond abrasion is reinforced by D3O level 1 armor in the back, shoulders, and elbows. The Karbonite fabric is also penetration resistant, so no sharp rocks on an off-road trip should leave much more than a small bruise and a memory. The collar is comfort-lined to not be abrasive to the neck, and both sides of the collars can be pinned back to the upper chest to allow ventilation air to pass down from the neck roll into the body of the jacket.
If you are going to be off-road for any duration, you really cannot get a better ADV jacket than the Artemis. It’s designed for, built for, made for the active off-road riding woman, and it shows!
The latest trend in protective gear in 2021 has been the major push forward with armored shirts and hoodies. Either out of a desire to not look “kitted up,” or purely for comfort, there are varying degrees of quality with these newer pieces of gear, and Merlin has been at the forefront of the highest-rated, best quality shirts.
Looking like your average long-sleeved plaid shirt that isn’t out of place on a farm, the Madison shirt is much more than just a fashion statement. The Buffalo Plaid fabric, itself tear-resistant, is backed by a full, interwoven, 100% DuPont Kevlar lining that is rated to 1000D abrasion. A light mesh lining keeps things comfortable, as does a relaxed street fit, while the kevlar holds CE level 1 elbow and shoulder armor in place. There is a pocket in the mesh liner for a back protector as well.
What looks like a button up front is in fact a storm flap closure over a full YKK zip, with YYK zippered vents cleverly hidden along the tops of the chest pockets. The pockets have small inner pockets designed to hold hand-warmer packs, and if that wasn’t enough, the whole shirt is water-resistant but breathes easily.
If understated but superb protection is in your checklist for gear, or if you just want a good all-around riding shirt that pairs beautifully with some riding jeans and boots, Merlin has just the shirt for you.
To say that this jacket is revolutionary is understating just how important it is. It may not look like much, it may even look bland compared to some of the other options on this list, but Helite has made a women’s fit jacket that has the single most important protection feature that any jacket can have. Enter the Xena, a leather sport touring and cruiser jacket with a built-in, tether deployed rider airbag system.
Made from premium 1.2mm cowhide leather, the Xena hides stretch polyfabric under a cleverly designed panel at the top back of the jacket, whose importance we will discuss shortly. As well, the sides and lower back feature floating leather on stretch panels, allowing the jacket to keep a tight, close fit at all times. The arms are relaxed in their curvature, making it comfortable for long-distance cruising.
The importance of both the large stretch panel at the top of the back and the stretch panels on the sides and lower back is so that if you do come off your bike, in any way, shape, or form other than stepping off of it when it’s parked, a tether attached to a solid point on your motorcycle yanks an activation valve open, inflating the airbag hidden in the liner of the jacket in 0.1 seconds. This airbag, along with the full Sas-Tec CE level 2 back, shoulder, and elbow armor, provides extreme impact protection into the high tens of G’s.
As it is a tether-operated system, with no fancy electronics or GPS sensors, it works every time you need it to. In fact, the airbag will self-deflate over about half an hour, and as long as the jacket has not been penetrated by any object or otherwise damaged, all you need to do to reset it is replace the spent 60cc CO2 cartridge in the right lower front of the liner, and it’s ready to deploy again.
For disguising a life-preserving safety feature in a fashionable cruiser and sport-touring jacket, while it is expensive, nothing is more expensive than your life. Either this or the wearable Helite Turtle 2 airbag vest, comes highly recommended.
Much like a couple of the other jackets in this list, if you’re going for a retro look that hides otherwise superior protective features, Dainese has a retro jacket for you in the Lola 3. Just looking at it, you’d think it was a slightly heavier track jacket, or a zip-up spring jacket to wear on the walk to the grocery store.
However, the Lola 3 is so much more. Combining high-grade Iride matte leather with S1 bi-elastic polyfabric panels and Dainese Pro-Armor impact zones, the jacket passes both prEN 17092 Class A jacket protection and EN 1621.1 armor class 1 standards. The Pro-Armor elbow and shoulder protectors are also rated CE level 1, which, while not as protective as CE level 2, allows for the armor to be more flexible and comfortable, while still being able to take an incredibly harsh whack without passing the impact to you.
And the piping on the jacket is not just for fashion, either. It is fully reflective material in an artificial shape, so the eye at night recognizes an artificial shape among the organic clutter of the environment in their headlights. A pocket for an optional Dainese G1 or racing G2 grade protector is inlaid into the TechFrame internal comfort liner just in case that person doesn’t see you.