1. Massachusetts-based Vanson Leathers has been hand-crafting leather riding gear for 40 years, in the process becoming one of the most respected names in the motorcycle apparel industry. Out on the track, racers literally trust their lives to Vanson jackets and pants, and street riders can benefit from Vanson quality out on the road with the new Vanson AR3. Based on the Model A, the Vanson jacket that started it all, the AR3 features competition-weight cowhide and brass zippered outer pockets and inner pockets. New to the AR3 is removable CE-approved armor in the shoulders and elbows. Made one at a time and individually numbered, this is a hardcore, no-frills, old school riding jacket. Like all Vanson apparel the construction of the AR3 is beyond reproach, with beautiful stitching and exceptional attention to detail. The leather is simply gorgeous, but like every Vanson product we’ve seen it’ll take some time to break in. The fit on our AR3 was perfect, and while it’s more than a little stiff when new, once it’s broken in we know it’ll be one of the most comfortable and protective pieces of leather gear we’ve ever had the pleasure to wear. Not cheap, but if you can afford it, worth every penny. $599.
2. Riders looking for traditional leather riding gear at a more affordable price should check out River Road’s Petro Vintage Jacket. Distressed leather means the Petro is fully broken in the moment you put it on, and it’s just light enough to double as a daily jacket on or off the bike. Features include zippered front shoulder intake vents and back vents for maximum air flow, and the sleeve cuffs feature perforated leather gussets and two-way zippers for extra ventilation. Outside are three brass zippered pockets, while inside there’s a zippered lining pocket and two hook-and-loop security pockets. The removable, insulated, fully-sleeved liner also features two hook-and-loop pockets, and there’s a snap closure on the collar. Simple, good looking and very comfortable, it’s also the cheapest jacket here and features a two-year warranty. $249.95-$289.95.
3. Editor Hall was particularly interested to check out Joe Rocket’s Speedmaster Leather Jacket, the upper half to the Joe Rocket Speedmaster 5.0 Pants we sampled last issue. Hall wanted to check out pants for track day riding, and the 5.0 Pants impressed us with their quality and fit, making it clear he needed to complete the ensemble with a Speedmaster jacket. Competitively priced, the Speedmaster Leather Jacket is an impressive piece of gear. The shell is made of 1.2mm-1.4mm drum-dyed top grain cowhide and features FullFlex expansion panels in the back and elbows. Integrated injection molded intake vents in the shoulders and zippered vents in the back ensure air flow for rider comfort, while CE-approved armor in the elbows and shoulders — plus titanium reinforced outer shoulder armor — provide critical protection. A removable insulated vest liner helps keep things warm when it’s cold, and an 8-inch zipper lets you attach it directly to your Speedmaster pants. The fit on our Speedmaster Jacket was excellent and the leather soft, making short work of break-in. Available in red (shown in the Slideshow), yellow, white/black and black. $349.99-$365.99.
4. Handmade in Guanajuato, Mexico, Gasolina boots and jackets have impressed us with their high quality and reasonable cost. The Gasolina Grand-Prix Jacket is the latest in the Gasolina line, which came about when former book publisher and vintage motorcycle nut Todd Fell decided he wanted to turn his love of vintage motorcycles into something more tangible, so he decided to go into vintage-styled leather motorcycle riding apparel. Made to order, you can specify brown or black sheepskin (brown sheepskin shown in the Slideshow) or cowhide leather, which is what we sampled. Fairly supple right out of the box, it will definitely get softer and more comfortable with age. The shoulders and elbows feature a second layer of padded leather for added safety and comfort, and the sleeve cuffs are zippered with leather gauntlets. The inside of the Grand-Prix features a vintage-style plaid lining, while the sleeves are lined in a soft black polyester. Features include two snap-closure breast pockets and a pair of zippered hand pockets on the outside, plus a zippered lining pocket on the inside. Retro-styled waist, neck and sleeve cuff belts complete the old school picture. Nicely styled, comfortable and well-made. $459.
5. Made of 1.2mm cowhide leather, the Corazzo Men’s Leather 5.0 feels thicker and heavier than its specification suggests. The cut is classic clean, and while stiff out of the box, the Leather 5.0 fits comfortably and should soften up and mellow nicely with riding time. Corazzo calls the 5.0 a motorcycle and scooter jacket, and while it seems a little heavy-duty for scooter work, riders of either variety will appreciate the 5.0’s CE-rated shoulder, back and elbow armor. Zippered underarm air vents aid warm weather riding, and there’s a pleated and insulated vest insert for colder days. Reflective 3M Scotchlite panels on the front, back and right arm give the rider enhanced nighttime visibility. Pockets are limited to two zippered hand pockets on the front and hook-and-loop interior pocket, but since this is more of a city/sport jacket than a touring jacket we doubt the average owner will complain. The sleeves feature zippered cuffs and the neck has a double snap-closure strap. An 8-inch zipper for attaching the jacket to riding pants is included. Nicely crafted, comfortable and undeniably good-looking. $379.
6. Handmade in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia, Fox Creek Leather apparel is among the best we’ve seen. Made from 1.4mm-1.6mm full-grain cowhide, the Grayson Motorcycle Jacket is, in a word, sumptuous. Incredibly comfortable right out of the box, this is one jacket that won’t need any break-in time. Classically cut with a low neck and tapered waist, the Grayson features zippered vents in the sleeves and two more on the back. There are two zippered hand pockets and a chest pocket outside, and two lining pockets inside: one snap closure and the other zippered. There’s also a full-sleeve, zip-out insulated liner, plus pockets for optional CE-approved Forcefield armor in the elbows, shoulders and back. (Fox Creek is currently equipping all Grayson jackets with armor pockets, but some sizes may not have them. Check with Fox Creek first when ordering.) Sleeve cuffs are zippered with leather gauntlets, and there are snap-closure adjustment straps at the waist. Beautifully made and comfortable, it also comes with a lifetime warranty. $462-$646.80 depending on size. Back, shoulder and elbow armor extra. MC