The Traditional Motorcycle Jacket

Traditional Style Motorcycle Jacket

This is the style that jumps into everybody’s mind when the term motorcycle jacket is mentioned. Necessity being the mother of invention, this style was first introduced in 1928 by apparel manufacturer Schott NYC. The Perfecto, as it was called, was the first leather jacket made that had an off center zipper that when closed, would create a seal through which no air would pass.

Other distinct characteristics of the horsehide Perfecto include zippered pockets and cuffs, a belt in the front, and the decorative epaulets on the shoulders.

The traditional “classic” style motorcycle jacket is built to protect the rider from the road and the wind, and to provide multiple secure storage compartments in the form of pockets that zip or snap shut. Snaps, zippers, belts, and various side adjustments are designed to provide for a snug fit, and to keep things from flapping around in the wind at high speeds.

The modern day traditional motorcycle jacket can include many variations on these themes, all as a means to the same end. Some jackets will loose the epaulets (not that functional anyway), utilize spandex, laces or buckles for side adjustments, feature a full or half belt, or none at all. Air venting systems are often included for the riders comfort, and some models include removable CE approved body armor for added protection.

Storage space is premium real estate on a motorcycle, and the traditional jacket can have any number of pockets in all shapes and sizes. Side pockets, D shaped pockets, cargo pockets; even large slanted “Pistol Pete” pockets are utilized in the style, zippered or snapped with heavy duty hardware to keep your valuables secure.

Typical of the traditional style is a small change pocket with a flap that snaps shut, great for cruising through toll booths. Of course, in the interest of extra storage, you will almost always find an inside pocket or two.

The traditional style leather motorcycle jacket first gained cult status in “The Wild Ones”, a movie starring Marlon Brando released in 1958. Subsequent portrayals by such disturbing figures as James Dean have elevated the jacket to a very cool, but seemingly outlaw status. Motorcycle clubs seen by the public more as gangs did not help the perception as they sewed their various club patches onto their jackets, and authorities have even banned students from wearing their motorcycle jackets to school.

Today the majority of Bikers are in the mainstream. Doctors, lawyers and other professionals that choose to spend their leisure time on a bike. They organize rallies, rides and events, pumping in millions of dollars to charitable causes and raising awareness on all kinds of issues.

Having gone in and out of fashion a number of times since its inception, the serious biker will be more interested in the utility and functional aspects of the jacket rather than its perceived status. Although the traditional classic motorcycle jacket will probably always remain a symbol of non conformity, they accept it for what it is; a heavy duty piece of motorcycle safety equipment that has passed the test of time.

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Next: The Scooter Jacket

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