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Why Do Bikers Wear Leather Jackets & Pants in the Summer?

Many assume bikers wear leather in the summer to keep up their look. After all, reputation is everything. But there’s much more behind why motorcyclists like it year-round than ego.

Although thick heavy material may seem daunting to the uninitiated, it makes sense, even in the heat.

Today we’ll try some leather lore on and discover the entire story behind the look.

Let’s ride!

Why Do Bikers Wear Leather in the Summer?

Protection and safety are the main reasons why bikers wear leather. When you ride a motorcycle, you’re essentially flying through the open air. So keeping your vital organs covered in case of a crash is essential. Jackets, vests, and chaps are designed with this in mind. 

Have you ever seen a chopper slide out from under a driver? It’s not pretty. The sturdy material gives your skin an extra barrier against falls.

In addition, motorcycle jackets are even thicker. Many come with armor pockets and padded elbows. You can even find some with removable pads. And the inner pockets are typically lined with quality zippers for extra security.

When you’re on the open road, you need protection from the wind and accidents regardless of how hot it gets. And cowhide does the job. It makes much more sense than a medieval stell body suit.

Plus, you’ll look unshakable if you can stand wearing biker leather in the summer.

Female biker in leather jacket
Many bikers will wear leather jackets while cruising about.

The Advantages of Bikers Wearing Leather 

Most motorcycle leather is made with cowhide, which provides excellent protection against abrasions. Plus, it’s relatively economical. But you can find jackets made from the hides of lamb, goats, bison, and pigs. Each has a distinct quality and reason why you might prefer it.

But no matter which kind you choose, avoid synthetic if you’re riding a chopper.

Studies show less protection means greater chances of severe injuries. And the artificial stuff won’t cut it.

Another reason why bikers wear leather, even in summer, is comfort. Rides can be long and exhausting. So wearing something that molds to your body is a plus. So even in the hot summer months, a vest or chaps can feel surprisingly pleasant.

And speaking of sun, the right gear can protect you from sunburn. Cowhides act as a great wind barrier as your speed into the sunset. And most jackets are well-designed, with plenty of ventilation holes and zippers to keep air flowing.

Although biker leather isn’t cheap, it can last for decades. Motorcycle jackets are one of the few products left in this world that are actually made to be kept for years. Maintenance is easy as long as you hang it up and treat it with a good conditioner now and then. So although your initial investment may sting a little, your dollars will likely go a long way.

Pro Tip: Ever passed a biker while driving? Find out Why Do Bikers Point Specific Fingers Down to Other Bikers?

The Disadvantages of Wearing Leather Biker Gear in the Summer

Discussing the advantages and disadvantages of wearing cowhide is like talking yin and yang. A good motorcycle-grade leather jacket is expensive. So you should be into it before you buy it. That said, you’re paying for something that could last decades, if not a lifetime.

Another disadvantage is the weather. This material is too hot in the summer and not warm enough in the winter. And it’s not waterproof. If you ride in a massive rainstorm, you’ll have to dry that jacket out for days.

That said, it does repel water. So when you’re riding, it can be beneficial. The trouble starts when you stop. It can be tough to repair if it gets too wet and wadded up in a corner. But if you dry and condition it right away, it’ll be fine.

And although biker leather isn’t ideal for summer, it’s flexible enough to let your body breathe. There’s no loose fabric blowing around, hampering your ride. And as for winter woes, you can always add layers.

Biker in leather jacket
A leather jacket adds protection while on the road.

What Other Leather Gear Do Bikers Wear in the Summer?

Helmets are the most critical motorcycle gear at any time of year. They significantly reduce the risk of brain injury and death. You should always wear it even if you’re driving one block away. Bikers often swap their black helmets in hot summer months for lighter colors. You can find vented ones for better circulation.

Gloves are another essential. You’ll probably extend your hands to brace the fall if you’re in an accident. And the right hand protection can buffer the impact. Fingerless ones with mesh backing are an excellent option for summer.

Also, you’ll want a sturdy pair of leather boots to guard against the bike’s hot pipes and general flying debris. Look for solid traction and a length that covers your ankle. Find a brand with vents and pair them with moisture-wicking socks for extra ventilation.

If you’re dying to avoid bikers’ typical leather pants in the summer, then opt for Kevlar-lined jeans. Or you can try vented mesh pants specifically designed for riding. But nothing will protect you more than a good ole pair of cowhide pants or chaps.

Bonus summer gear includes cooling neck wraps and vests. And most of all, remember to stay hydrated!

Pro Tip: Keep cool no matter what you wear with these 15 Ways to Keep Your RV Camper Cool This Summer.

Are There Summer Alternatives?

Although leather offers optimum protection against accidents, clothing manufacturers have devised clever alternatives to beat the heat. We’ve already mentioned Kevlar-lined jeans. These keep you looking and feeling cool while covering your legs with military-grade shielding.

Cordura is another manufactured textile used for summer biker clothing. It’s lightweight, abrasion resistant, and durable enough for military shirts. Many vests, pants, and motorcycle jackets are made with a Codura blend. That said, it’s not safe enough for high-speed crashes.

Two other sturdy alternatives are Dyneema and ballistic nylon, the distant cousins of Kelvar and Cordua, respectively. So any motorcycle gear you find made with these textiles will work. They’re lighter than leather and offer some protection.

And if you choose to go James Dean style and just wear denim, you’re playing a risky game. Don’t put your life on the line in fear of a bit of sweat and temporary discomfort.

It’s More Than The Look

Bikers wear leather in the summer just like they do in any other season. The rugged jackets, pants, vests, and gloves provide the best barrier in case of an accident. They also protect you from the gritty gusty wind as you fly down the road. Although some may choose alternatives, you won’t find a better material for motorcycling.

And besides, wearing leather just looks badass. It’s a rugged yet classic look. So why not sweat it out a little and bike with unbound vigor?

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