There has been a great debate going around for 30 plus years now on the topic of Leather vs Textile and which is better to wear while riding your motorcycle. AMERiders takes an in-depth look at the two materials to help you make your decision. Used to be, leather outperformed textile by a very wide margin in most all categories tested. Today, however, that isn’t the case. With all the new advances in the quality and construction of various textile fabrics, textile gear now has many qualities not only as good as, but in some cases far superior to, leather gear.
A well-manufactured textile jacket will often be superior to a low-end leather one, on the other hand, a high-end leather jacket will more often than not be superior to a low-end textile jacket. Whether you decide on leather or textiles isn’t really the question anymore. Instead, you need to know the difference between various grades of leather jackets, and between various grades of textile jackets. This is important to know when choosing your side of the fence with the Leather vs Textile debate.
Starting off with leather gear.
Quality leather products begin with the leather itself. High-quality products are made from large pieces of leather that are graded for blemishes, thickness and uniformity of grain. Virtually all leather has blemishes. To what degree and quantity of blemishes help to determine what type of product it will be used for and for how much.
Most deer and elk hides are called “naked leather” and are not treated with any sealant product which smooths and hides blemishes. Hence, products made with naked leather are much more supple and expensive as well. “Protected hides” are leathers that have combined the best facets of natural leather, yet utilizing tannery technology to create a product that is more consistent in appearance. They are also sealed to prevent staining from water and other liquids, so products made with protected hides have easier maintenance than others.
It is also important when buying leather to know what quality you are buying. However, the grading system used for this purpose is very misleading, such as…
“Top Grain Leather”
The most confusing term used in the industry is “top grain.” It is a total contradiction in terms, because it implies exactly what it is not. “Top grain” is the term that is used when the grain is not genuine! This is when the real grain was sanded away to remove or hide imperfections, and an imitation grain was stamped into the leather.
“Full Grain Leather”
Just as the grain, texture and markings of wood should reveal the nature of the tree from which it came, leather should display the natural markings and grain characteristics of the animal from which it was taken. The best leathers are clear, clean, and supple.
So when buying leather ensure that you check the type of grain if it is called “full grain” or “full top grain,” then it is true leather. However, if it says simply “top grain,” this is actually an inferior product don’t be fooled by inferior products. It is difficult to judge leather by a photo, as it really helps if you can feel it. However, just looking at a jacket you can tell that superior jackets grain and coloring are uniform throughout, and that the material is supple, as it easily folds and drapes. It would probably feel soft, and almost sensual to the touch. In which, an inferior jacket has varying grains and colors from section to section, possible lousy and mismatched dye job and will feel stiff as a board.
Looking at and going over each of these points can help you choose your side of the fence with the Leather vs Textile debate, or maybe you want to have one of both types of gear.
Now we will move on to textile gear.
Nowadays, there are multiple synthetic materials used in constructing motorcycle gear. Here is a short list of some common materials and some of the terminology associated with them, with definitions of each this is not a complete list there is lots more.
Breathability: Humans control their body warmth by perspiring and thus preventing their bodies from overheating. When you’re riding, it is necessary to transport at least two pints of perspiration (water vapor) through your clothes every hour.
CE Armor: “CE” is a European system of grading motorcycle protective armor that encompasses both energy absorption capability as well as pad shape and size. The armor or pads are designed to offer added protection to a rider going down with a motorcycle, particularly when sliding or facing lesser impacts. CE armor is made of hard foam pieces encapsulated in softer foam that compresses on impact. If your jacket has body armor in it (and it really should), insist on CE-approved armor.
Gore-Tex: Is a thin, lightweight membrane mounted between the face fabric and the lining that is waterproof, windproof and breathable. Gore-Tex was the original membrane of this type, and it totally revolutionized the motorcycle gear market with its use in jackets, suits, pants, gloves, boots, etc.
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride): Nylon alone is not waterproof. In rain suit and waterproof garment descriptions, you will notice the acronym PVC. This is a rubberized coating that is laminated to the nylon to make it waterproof.
We probably have you pretty well confused by now and wondering, “How in the H. E. double hockey sticks do I choose good textile riding gear or leather riding gear?” The best we can tell you is to look for a reputable manufacturer that uses a practical combination of the above items. Still, there are other manufacturers that make very good textile and leather jackets or suits that don’t cost an arm and a leg to purchase. Just look for the materials suggested in this article, and pay attention to how it is constructed as well.
Think you’ve made your choice on the debate of Leather vs Textile? You can find the reasonable prices and great styled jackets with us. Going with textile? Check out our great selection of textile motorcycle jackets for men or women. Or have you Decided on classic leather? Shop the highest quality leather motorcycle jackets for men or women at the best prices on the web with AMERiders.
In the end, what matters is your comfort and protection, ensuring that you have both is important when you ride. We hope we have helped you to make your decision on the Leather vs Textile debate.
And as always….
~Live Free Ride Hard~
When you are trying to decide between Leather vs Textile, let AMERiders help you out.
And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.
Like what you just read? Share it on social media with others and let them get the information and benefit from it as well.