After an unexpected invitation this spring, following a childhood of telling my dad not to buy a motorcycle because I didn’t think it would look right or be safe, I took one of Harley-Davidson’s new rider courses, a three day thing that basically ended with me certified for a motorcycle license. There’s a classroom section, a written test and you spend 15 hours riding around a parking lot with an instructor; starting with a skill set somewhere between zero and “kick the thing, twist the thing,” I ended up with a strong grasp on how to cautiously drive around my neighborhood. Baby steps, but like, a tough baby. As a newcomer, driving a motorcycle is weird—like a combination of downhill skiing and using a jackhammer—but empowering. And as you get more into it, as I have, it raises some serious sartorial issues: you have to balance looking badass with the far more important need to protect yourself from an ungodly amount of potential bodily harm. While my abilities finally approach the levels of a speeding ticket candidate, it’s time to start ramping up my wardrobe. Here are my top six motorcycle jackets.
Love the black-on-black reflective lettering, both safer than a plain leather jacket and with some extra oomph. The back has a big, classic Harley crest.
Ultra throwback look, by the New York company whose jackets were worn by Brando and The Ramones.
Cool spin on vintage racing jackets, which even though it’s referencing a 1970s look reminds me of ’90s-era Ruff Ryders.
Priced high and without any armor or reflectivity, this one is totally impractical and basically unsafe for riding, but it’s got a luxe lapel like no other.
This one probably offers the best protection of the six, but my real favorite part is mixing in the slimer green while still staying subtle.
If you’re just into the look and shopping on a budget, Topman has a vintage-style black leather jacket for only $150.