Baby Steps – My First Riding Jacket

I am not sure if I ever loved clothes as much as the shopping experience. There is something about the stores that make me smile even if I get there in a foul mood. I might be quite rude to the first couple of store assistants that don’t know better and come to offer the most spectacular discounts in their store’s view but I calm down quite soon after and enjoy myself. My shopping trips last anywhere from 4 hours to a full day only because I have to try almost everything. I must be one of the most frustrating customers as I try lots but buy a few. This is how my husband eased me into the world that he loves. He took advantage of my weakness for shopping.

The first thing after we bought his motorcycle, and I swore I would never ride with him or by myself, he asked me to help him pick a jacket. He found this store Up Your Leather that sounded kind of dirty and funny at the same time. My interest was  peaked! Plus, when you say leather jacket, any woman suddenly is interested. It is something about leather that makes us giddy and bit naughty. We went to the Langley store and  I pretty much tried every jacket they had. Now, as a woman future rider, I did not find the selection was breath taking. There were maybe 7 styles, with one coming in a few colours. Even so, I forgot why we were there in the first place: to find a jacket for my husband. We ended up buying a jacket for myself instead. I chose my first jacket based on how well fitted me and based on how much I liked the style. At the time, I knew nothing about what you are to look for, when choosing a proper riding gear. It didn’t really matter as we went to a specialty store and they guided us to what we needed.

 

 

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Fast forward 1 year, on my way to get my own license and having been around a lot of experienced riders and a lot of research I learnt that there is more to what you should be looking for when buying a jacket. And here is what I now know:

  • There are 4 criteria your jacket needs to fit: style, comfort, safety features and performance. And yes, style and colour are as important as all the other features. I would never go for style only, but, I will not ever wear a jacket I find ugly.
  • Your jacket should fit your riding style: you are a weekend/occasional rider, you are planning a touring trip with long hours riding your bike, you like cruising around on country roads, you enjoy off road riding, etc. For each riding style, there are certain features you should be looking for in a jacket.
  • Are you riding only in good weather or maybe in colder, wetter weather? Vancouver is one of the most beautiful places on earth but, here, all you need is 5 minutes and weather will change; planning for wet weather is a must even for a few hours rides;
  • Leather versus textiles; while leather is more resistant to abrasions and weather, the textile fibre jackets are lighter and more comfortable; leather will last longer if properly cared for but again, textile is more flexible and lighter. If you want a textile with the leather capabilities, you should chose a jacket with Kevlar padding – which is a high strength material. Some of its uses: bullet proof vests, military helmets, car tyres, fire proof clothing…
  • Your jacket needs to have elbows, shoulders and back padding and while shifting positions on the bike or just moving around, the padding must stay in place and not shift. In case of an accident, you need all these pieces to protect you as planned
  • Reflective material! This is a very important feature of your jacket. We all know how easy it is for a motorcycle to get into the blind spots of the other vehicle they share the road with. Anything that can increase your visibility on the road needs to be considered. Most of the jackets will have already reflective features but, if you choose a black jacket, add reflective bands around your arms , wear a reflective vest over the jacket as soon as the sun prepares to come down;
  •  Inside pockets – if you need to hide a wallet, sleeves that can be locked around your wrist to protect you from the wind creeping up your arms,
  • No unnecessary add-ons like flaps or  outside pockets that can easily get tangled on your jackets. Sometimes fashion is not necessary safe. See the beautiful 10 inch high heels that are still so fashionable. Don’t fall for a bit of unnecessary glam that could put your life in danger. Style is good but too much of it can kill you!
  • In the Internet era, research is just a given! Every item for sale has a bunch of reviews. Even i everything seems to be perfect, take the item to research your choice. Read the reviews and then, make up your mind. And don’t forget to give back to the community! You have your own opinion? Please share it with everybody else. Write a review of the product. Knowledge is powerful only when it is shared!

One thing to remember is that the jacket will not fit the same when you are on the motorcycle. The best way to try it is by taking it outside and getting on your bike. Get in the riding position with the hands on the steering bars. If it feels comfortable, everything falls in the right place, then you know you found the best fit!

My second jacket is a Joe Rocket. I liked the vibrant colour, the very sleek design and the way the padding matches my body. It is still new and I wore it only once but I think I made the right choice.

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Have you found your jacket? What was the feature you could not live without? Let’s hope now for a sunny season! Safe riding everyone!

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