A motorcycle jacket that is too tight will restrict your movement on the bike while a loose jacket will flap around annoyingly, causing fatigue over a long day in the saddle.
The best and only way to get a correctly fitting helmet is to try one on. Never buy over the internet unless you have previously tried that particular helmet on first.
Similarly, you should always try on a jacket first before buying over the internet.
Or best of all, try the helmet and jacket on in a store and then support the store by buying there. Otherwise your local motorcycle shop might not be there much longer!
Fits for purpose
But trying on a motorcycle jacket is more than just putting it on and seeing if it fits.
You need to make sure it will fit when you are on your motorcycle.
And that depends on what sort of motorcycle you have.
A cruiser with ape hanger bars is going to put your body in a different position to say a sportsbike where you are crouched over.
You need to either sit on your motorcycle or adopt the same posture when you try on the jacket.
That is going to look silly in the motorcycle shop, but it’s better to suffer a bit of embarrassment in the shop than find the jacket is uncomfortable when you are riding.
I’ve been sent many jackets for review that seem fine when you first try them on, but there can be fit problems that are only revealed when you ride a motorcycle.
Here are the main fit issues to look for:
Your jacket should be a firm fit, not only so it doesn’t flap around when you hit the highway, but also so the armour doesn’t shift out of position if you crash.
A tight jacket is good, but does it have stretch panels to allow you to move?
Pizza and beer can also cause jackets to shrink, so look for jackets with adjustment straps and zippers.
Waterproof and thermal liners are great, but consider whether the jacket will become too loose when you take the liner out.
Sleeves that fit perfectly when you try a jacket on might be too short when you reach out to the handlebars. So you might need a jacket with sleeves that are slightly long when you are wearing the jacket normally.
However, race suits and sportsbike jackets usually have short sleeves as they go under the long gauntlet race gloves. Long sleeves would bunch up under the gloves.
A high collar might keep out the cold, but when you leave forward to the bars, does the collar stick into your throat?
Most jackets have vents for summer thermal comfort, but there is no point in buying a jacket with chest vents if you have a big windscreen. Check that the vents will actually get some air when you are on the motorcycle.
You can also check to see how the jacket rates for comfort and safety by checking the MotoCAP website.