Best Motorcycle Leather Jackets Under $700

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Roland Sands Ronin
Roland Sands Ronin Jacket – $590
The Roland Sands Ronin Jacket, especially in the tobacco color, is my favorite looking motorcycle jacket, period. A friend has had one since the first run, and it gets better looking every single day. 1.2 mm washed and waxed cowhide, pre-curved sleeves, and a dropped back length, this thing is vintage levels of cool, even when you’re in a riding position. The Ronin comes armor ready, with pockets in the shoulder, elbows, and back. Just a warning though, we’ve gotten some of the latest production run and it seems their fit has gone wide. We’re looking into getting the one they sent us tailored, with a more in-depth review on the way.

 

Vanson AR3 Model A
Vanson AR3 Armored Model A – $550 est. (Official pricing not released yet)
The people have spoken and their desires have been heard! Vanson released news at the AIMExpo a few weeks back that they would be releasing a production version of the AR3 they made especially for RideApart’s own Wes Siler, complete with armor. Competition weight leather that will last you your entire life, now with CE-rated armor stock from the factory. Go down in it and all you have to do is send it in for repairs, the only downside being you’ll have to put in all that hard work again to get it broken in just right.

 

Alpinestars GP-R Leather
Alpinestars GP-R Leather Jacket – $449.95
The Alpinestars GP-R Leather jacket is a 2011 Revzilla product of the year winner which, at it’s lower price point than the other jackets on our list, speaks volumes about it’s quality. It features 1.3 mm full-grain perforated leather combined with Aramidic stretch panels in the shoulders and arms to allow for a better fit and better range of motion. It has removable and adjustable CE certified Bio Armor in the shoulders and elbows, and padding in the chest and back that can be upgraded to a Bio Armor back protector and Bionic Chest Guards. It also has a waist connection zipper, so you can connect the jacket to Alpinestars leather or textile pants.

Had any experience with the jackets on this list? Tell us about it or your favorite leather jacket in the comments below.

 

Related Links:
Gear: A Beginners Guide To Motorcycle Gear
Gear: RSD Barfly Jacket
Gear: ICON Compound Mesh Jacket

  • luxlamf

    Love my Vanson Comet, bought it last year and cannot say how great it is, just ought my GF a Vanson Villianisse last month and its equally excellent. Have 2 Schott ‘s that don’t get worn very often any more. Tried the Roland Sands jackets on, great feel to them, light weight and comfortable but for $500+ I went with Made in USA.

    • Snowblind

      I have the Cobra 2, it is comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, which is important when starting in the 100 California Central Valley and riding into the 9K elevation 40 or 50 degree passes of the Sierras, then back down again.

  • stephen

    I have been wearing the RSD Ronin for 2 yearsish now – it is brilliant comfy and looks great

  • Guzzto

    always loved the look of the Ronin by roland sands , however every pic I’ve seen of someone wearing it looks baggy in the arms , does everyone in the states have massive biceps?. The revzilla video reviews always have a massive dude wearing it (great video reviews btw) I haven’t wanted to purchase such an expensive item without trying it on first (not possible where I live) especially if I have to get it tailored. Perhaps they’ll do a slimmer version ?(hint hint)

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Roomy’s prototype was perfect, by my production model is REALLY poorly cut. Looking into getting it altered.

      • Guzzto

        Good to know , Thanks Sean

        • KLV826

          I have to jump in here and share my experience with the RSD Ronin. It definitely looks great but I have to 100% agree that recent production has been TERRIBLE. I have gone through 3 of them before giving up. The first one had the stitching pop on the shoulder in about a month, the second one’s liner was sewn in improperly and tugged at the shoulder armor pocket to the point that it was not only uncomfortable but the armor would not sit properly on my shoulder, and on the third I went through 4 of them – all labeled medium – that each fit too large or too small in the shoulders and were too baggy in the arm…and I can’t justify spending that amount of money on a jacket and need to get it altered. Luckily RSD’s customer service replaced the first 2 jackets and RevZilla agreed to take the third back so I wasn’t stuck with it.

          All that being said I still have no jacket…I tried on a Schott 141 and the fit was terrific but still unsure as I’d like to try a Vanson A2 or Comet as it has armor…

      • jonoabq

        Talk to Alan at Johnson Leathers in SF. Horrible website, mad custom leather skills.

    • Lou Jacob

      Unfortunately, you are correct. Great jacket, cut oddly. The lower arm is a bit too narrow and the upper is cut too wide. In general, the Sands stuff, in my experience, is great design and poor execution.

      • martin

        I have normal arms and could not use it with the armour because it cut circulation to my hands. And then split along the seam so imaging it going down the road it would fall apart.

    • Dane[ger]

      I don’t have the source unfortunately, but I heard Roland Sands inked a deal with Harley shops to sell their jackets. In order to take care of the market they’ve gone with a boxier cut instead of the more “hipster” fit I guess. I love my RS Tracker jacket (not leather) but I got it over a year ago. Back then it came with armor as well. I think they might loose a few cool points making this business move, but I’m sure it will help grow the brand quite a bit so go them.

      • luxlamf

        No “Source” for it but you post it as “Fact” than make assumptions on their quality control because of the “Story” you are telling about the Co?” I know a guy who knows a guy who said..” Well here are the RS jackets at my local Duc, Triumph, MV, Aprilla shop, I wonder if the “Cool Points” will faulted more?http://store.proitalia.com/leather-jackets-c-21_67.html?filter_id=153&sort=4d

  • Rhett_Rick

    Great piece, Sean. Would there be any reason you’d suggest the Dainese R-Twin over the Speed Naked? I’ve seen pictures of Adey wearing the Speed Naked (and am considering it myself) but wonder how you might compare the two.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      They’re super similar, the differences as far as I’m aware are aesthetic. I had a bonneville at the time, so the panel on the back, across the shoulders, and the lack of the hard sliders in the shoulders fit the look I was going for a little better.

    • Ben W

      Worth noting that the Speed Naked offers a perf version if you’re somewhere hot.

  • Faysal Itani

    I have the GP-R, love that thing. Looks bad-ass, feels top-quality. Haven’t crash-tested it thankfully, but I feel invincible wearing it.

  • http://www.motopraxis.com/ Aakash

    I’m loath to recommend Dainese jackets (or their gear in general). I have a Dainese Touring Pelle leather jacket, which apparently cost over $900 when new. The quality of the leather is good, but the quality of the stitching is terrible. I’ve had multiple corners come undone and a wrist-snap button break off from just a year of normal use.

    This is not the only piece of Dainese gear which has proven to have quality control and craftsmanship issues. My pair of the Steel Core Carbon gloves are also starting to fall apart along the seams.

    My problem is this: if Dainese is going to charge a premium price for their gear then the issues with fit and finish I have been experiencing with their products is inexcusable.

  • Campisi

    The Roland Sands Designs jackets are lovely things, but be warned: they’re shaped oddly. My old Ronin (back before the EMTs had to cut it up) had particularly odd sleeves, with the elbow armour pockets too far down the sleeve for my tastes. I developed a habit of bending my arm and checking my elbow to see if the armour still covered it or not (which it would, but just barely).

    That said, my elbow survived the wreck, whereas my humerus didn’t. So, there’s that.

  • Piglet2010

    Out of all these, I would get the Alpinestars GP-R:
    - Lowest price;
    - Zipper to attach to pants;
    - Last but far from least, does *not* look like a “fashion” jacket or something a biker would wear (at least the one on the left and the two on the bottom).

    Why doesn’t someone make a hi-viz yellow leather jacket?

    • Thatmanstu

      Vanson does,as well as a “glow in the dark” model….

  • Jason 1199

    <——— Avro

  • Jeremy Piner

    2 Dainese, 2 A-stars, no Rev-it? I love my Ignition 2 Jacket! Their product are all excellent. Spread the love around.

    • Jay

      Rev’it has some great looking stuff, I almost went with the Rebel before settling on the RSD Ronin .

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      Haven’t had much experience with them yet and didn’t want to discuss anything we couldn’t sand behind. I have a touring jacket from them that’s fantastic, and we’re working on getting some of their other lines in.

      • APG7

        Currently wearing the Galaxy, and it’s my favorite jacket I’ve ever worn.

        • Lourens Smak

          I’m also a Rev’it fan, the leather CR jacket is the jacket I wear the most. (now discontinued) I have several other Rev’it products (textile pants, 2x gloves) and they’re all excellent.

    • HammSammich

      Haven’t had any experience with their jackets but I have a pair of their gloves and they seem to be a great value for the quality and protection.

    • aergern

      Agreed. My Ignition2 is in the top 5 I’ve owned over the last 25 years. I’m also fond of my Spidi Track leather … no mention of Spidi either. But then again Astars and Dainese are what all the cool MotoGP guys wear … eerr … are paid to wear. ;)

      • Piglet2010

        Or maybe they are custom suits carrying the logo? – Heck, if I had a spare million or two dollars lying around, I could get a MotoGP rider to wear a suit with my name on it.

  • Jay

    I wish more companies could resist the urge to put their giant logos all over their jackets. Even the subtler tone on tone ones would be much better without.

    I have the Ronin and love it. Fits me perfectly, very comfortable and it looks great with everything. The elbow armor sits too low though, I still need to figure out a fix for that.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      we’re seeing companies get better and better every year.

  • charlie

    Vanson and the Ronin all day. I can’t stand logos and neon colors.

    • Justin Penney

      The Ronin should come with armor, not just the pockets. Otherwise, the best two looking ones in the post.

      • chupa

        For the price, yes, indeed it should.

    • Ben W

      My concern with the RSD jackets come around the protection of the relatively thin leather (Ronin is .8mm-1.1mm per RSD site) and the armor coverage. I love how they look, though they just concern me when viewed in person.

    • Deeds

      My Ronin is alright. A little baggy in the upper arms, and the wrist zippers won’t stay shut all the way, but I am happy with it nonetheless. I treated it with some Snoseal after I got it to little effect, but it gives it a nice worn in color. I have the clay.

    • Matt Mason

      I love my Ronin, I wear it on and off the bike and it’s insanely comfortable. Get a ton of compliments on it too. Can’t really see the armor when it’s in but you definitely have more shoulder flexibility when it’s out. Awesome non-track jacket.

  • charlie

    Sean, anybody you recommend that does alterations that knows what they’re doing? A lot of places have never worked with leather. I’m assuming you can give them a list of measurements if they’re not nearby after sending the jacket.

    • Mike Lin

      Z Custom Leathers in Huntington Beach. Adolf is a pro.

    • Justin McClintock

      Why not just go with somebody like Vanson or Fox Creek who will custom fit it to you to begin with? No alterations needed!

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      there are lots of people all over who do that kind of work. Anthony’s Leatherworks in Corona Del Mar is who I’m speaking with about some upcoming project.

  • HellomynameisAG

    What’s the stitching like on the RSD stuff compared to the others? I want one but have been hesitant because I have yet to hear/ read / watch an actual review of the quality of the line (except for the crew selling it). I know I will probably go down again – that said I want to make sure I pop up like last time. Dainese has been good to me, but need something I can wear everyday for everyday things.
    Oh and I don’t understand why vanson didn’t go with D3o…..

    • martin

      stitching is very weak. I went to a racing leather maker and they pointed out all the faults so I never wore it again as it would not have held up.

      • HellomynameisAG

        Thanks for the insight man. Guess I am still in the hunt, to bad because the rsd line is awesome looking.

    • Piglet2010

      Any proper riding gear has double inseam stitching for the major protective panel joins, and either single or double top stitching – the double inseam stitching makes for a strong connection that is protected from abrasion.

      • HellomynameisAG

        Thanks for the info man, I assume RSD’s stuff doesn’t have any of that. Hopefully somebody will review it for once and address these issues.

  • Guy S

    even though its $700 im interested to know what yall’s opinion of the Union garage mash up with Vanson leathers called the Robinson? it looks amazing and comes with 5 piece set of removable D30 armour. I
    would never (or rather not with out a lucky lottery ticket or something
    involving a gun and a bank) be able to spend that sorta money on a
    jacket but it would be interesting to see you guys do a write up on it.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      They’re a real small company who don’t have much of a budget for sending product to motorcycle publications, but we’ll see if we can get our hands on one to review. Looks intelligently designed and well thought out, but ya never really know til you put it on.

      • http://www.UnionGarageNYC.com/ Union Garage NYC

        Hey man, never know until you ask! The first run of Robinson’s is just about sold out, but the next will be available before Christmas. We hope by the NYC IMS show Dec 13. Sean give us a call happy to talk RideApart test sample.

        Gus, yeah, $700 is not cheap. Sorry if it’s out of range and we honestly tried bringing it in lower than that, but U.S. made + D30 armor + all the damn leather we put in this thing (trim + reinforcements under the elbow and shoulder patches) and that’s what it comes out to. That said, this is a jacket that really does work off the bike, so if it helps to justify, it’s a regular barn jacket, AND a motorcycle jacket. :)

        Also, since this is in a leather jacket thread we’ll clarify here: This ain’t no leather track jacket. Nothing (outside double-layer SuperFabric) beats leather in abrasion, which is why we hid patches under the shoulder and elbow caps. But it’s not leather everywhere. It’s intended as a city jacket, where speeds are slower and impact is as important as abrasion. We do think the Robinson can go up against any other jacket in its class (waxed cotton contenders: Bellstaff, Barbour, RSD Tracker, Kakadu, Moto Ciclo, REV’IT! Melville) in terms of style, protection, and function (did I mention it has SEVEN pockets!?)

        Back on track: Great list here. The Vanson AR3 is a winner. So are REV’IT!’s leather options. The current Rebel is an amazing value at $380, and the company’s three new 2014 urban line leather jackets are all great looking, and all under $600.

        -Chris

        • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

          Thanks for weighing in, we love hearing from other people who have a chance to take a close look at a wide variety of options.

          You’ll be hearing from me some time on the 14th :)

    • HellomynameisAG

      I was at the shop (Union Garage) last week. That jacket is nice. If you are in the area go check it out in person. They have some other line at the shop as well – crazy thick horse hide – crazy expensive, but the jacket felt bullet proof.

      • http://www.UnionGarageNYC.com/ Union Garage NYC

        Ah yes, the Lost Worlds horsehide. A well kept secret. The jackets are amazing. Details blow most every other leather jacket out of the water. On part with only a couple other companies. Yes, a cool grand for a jacket, but it’s the best value in the shop. Your kids will fight over it. Guaranteed. Come try one on if you don’t believe :)

  • DRock

    One thing to keep in mind, do they zip into full circumference track pants? It sucks to buy a $700 jacket then want to do a track day and find out you’re going to have to buy another jacket or track suit. I’ve owned the previous iterations of the Icon and A* GPR jackets. The Icon was heavy, well constructed with a fuller fit, zipper broke, pretty hot in summer. The old A* TZ1 might be the best ever for the price it’s cut for a sportbike rider, zips into track pants, stretchy fabric, great cut, can wear it off the bike and not look like a power ranger. I’ve crashed in my old A* TZ1 nearly a dozen time between trackdays, minimotos (including a 90 mph get off), still holding up well. I’m pretty sure the GPR is of similar quality.

  • Justin McClintock

    Anything from Fox Creek, especially their Vented Racing Jacket. I’d say it’s probably got better ventilation than anything shown here (I live in Atlanta, we care about these things here!!!) a full sleeve zip out liner, ridiculously good leather, and they’ll custom fit it to you. All for under $500. Oh yeah, and it’s made in the USA and has a lifetime guarantee on top of all that.

  • jian khan

    Look at the Helston’s brand. Extreme quality, full protectors, waterproof and good design. Like Belstaff, with less cost.

  • Gabe

    I bought a Vanson Drifter at the Chicago IMS last year after reading Wes’ lust-filled post about his own experience with his jacket. It was a great decision. They let me customize it they way i wanted (zippers, pulls, patches, leather, additional pocket, etc.) and I now have a 1-of-1 jacket that I wear daily that already has armor in it. It’s a bit of a wait to get one made custom (especially if you go with the brown leather) but it is worth every penny.

  • JerseyRider

    Do you think it looks stupid to have a classic looking bike like a Bonneville, yet wear ultra protective “sportbike” gear?

    • HammSammich

      Wear whatever style gear you are comfortable and feel safest in. But I think you can find gear that would fit the Bonnie’s retro aesthetic fairly well and still offer excellent protection. Regardless, if you stick with neutral tones, I think even the racing type gear would looks fine.
      And it really depends on who you ask – Many of the Cruiser-Pirates that ride around my area think anything other than the standard tassled leather vest with patches and assless chaps looks stupid…but I don’t give a squirt piss for what they think.

    • chupa

      The Triumph line of jackets have some quality “vintage” jackets that would go great with a Bonnie, with armor as well. Check them out online.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      What @hammsammich:disqus said.

      We make not apologies about appreciating aesthetics and we definitely like to match the style of our bike to our gear whenever possible, but believe safety is more important. I got the R-Twin above as an attempt to blend aesthetics and protection, but would have aired on the safety side if it hadn’t been available at the time.

      I started by wearing an open face on my cafe, but wear a full face now because it’s safer and more comfortable. Wear what you want to wear and what makes you feel the most prepared to tackle everything that comes with motorcycling, anyone who wants to say otherwise can go kick rocks.

    • Davidabl2

      Maybe “stupid” but at least not like a “fashion victim”(in ANY sense of that expression)…

    • Piglet2010

      I ride my Bonnie while wearing a hi-viz yellow Aerostich Roadcrafter Light.

      However, I have been thinking about getting the Aerostich Falstaff waxed cotton jacket and pants combination.

  • chupa

    I may be in the minority here but I find the Vanson jacket designs to be butt ugly. I’ve made the trip to the Vanson warehouse to try their stuff on and I just couldn’t find anything I like. Which is a shame since their quality is top notch. Just compare the design of the Ronin with any of the Vanson’s – no contest the Ronin is 100% better looking.

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      The beauty of Vanson jackets is that they don’t stay looking like they do brand new. They break in over time, adapting themselves to your individual shape and life. I know my well broken-in Ar2 looks a million times better than my buddy’s equally broken in (but mostly just broken) Ronin.

      • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald
      • Jonathan Berndt

        ill second that, ive had a Vanson Highwayman for 14yrs and its just a perfect jacket, took a looong time to break in but once it did it has just been fantastic, ive even crashed in it once, didnt even send it back!

        • chaser

          Fox Creek Leather right here in USA….heavy and no ” Branding just great protection and super outfit to deal with.

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      I’m with you. I’m not as into the looks of the AR3, while a broken in Ronin looks absolutely stunning.

      Everyone’s gonna have their personal preference.

      • Piglet2010

        For looks, I would rather wear an Aerostich Darien or Falstaff jacket.

        (Yes, I am aware neither is leather.)

  • Strafer

    I tried on the r-twin, liked it -
    Low key branding (for Dianese)
    Stretch panels (instead of extra flaps of leather on the back like in the Vanson)
    Good quality look and feel

    However like Sean mentioned in the article it is not really for people with a long thin torso like me
    Arms were very short, sits a little high on the waist (fixable with a long sweater underneath)

    Still looking, don’t want to spend that price for something that doesn’t fit well.

    • HellomynameisAG

      Holi sheeet man what happened to your neck? Why you staring at us?? Haha

    • forking

      Sounds perfect for a shorter built guy (shorter torso, wider chest, shorter arms).

  • APG7

    I’ve actually got a Vanson Manx in size 44 that doesn’t fit me anymore. Would anyone here be interested in buying it? It’ll be an extremely substantial discount. Back protector included.

    http://www.vansonleathers.com/prod-MANX-391.aspx

  • Shawn McDermott

    I have the AVRO jacket, it rocks!

  • Mark Vizcarra

    Stupid arm bend vents. I have that on my jacket and when I ride. I get mad airflow which makes my arms cold, which makes me wear layers. I commute every morning with my bike and the stupid wind goes right through them

  • martin

    i had the Roland Sands Ronin and returned it because it was falling apart after 2 months. Surprisingly badly made in Indonesia. Dainese is worlds apart and so much better quality.

  • Davidabl2

    Guys, any review of jackets should include a description of their ventilation systems (if any)
    Sheesh, you guys live in Sunny SoCal after all

    • http://www.twitter.com/seanmacdonald sean macdonald

      When we review jackets, we will. This is just meant to point out our favorite options and highlight some of their key features. A full break down of each jacket would be exhausting to read, just pick the ones you’re interested in and click the links to read more about them

      • Davidabl2

        Sure…but I wouldn’t even bother to review anything that didn’t have good ventilation. Unless it was in a “winter jacket Roundup” :-)
        If the jacket gets too cold, you can layer up, if it’s too warm you just won’t ride in it.
        And we KNOW how that turns out…

        • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

          Well, I wear that Vanson pretty much every day in Los Angeles and it has no scoops, intakes, perforation or any of that jazz. It was 91 degrees today, know what what I did? unzipped it a bit. Works up to about 100 degrees or so.

          • Davidabl2

            In that kind of heat I’d have to take it off and tie it around my waist ;-)

          • luxlamf

            Agreed, I find I wear my VAnson much more than any other jacket I own prior and since no other states allow Lane Splitting like here I never find myself sitting and stewing in traffic etc… here.

  • markbvt

    Personally I think the best leather jacket value available today is Fox Creek Leather. Outstanding quality, super thick leather, made in the USA, and they can custom tailor the jacket to your specs. And the price is way under $700. And yes, they make a variety of styles, not just cruiser-oriented ones.

  • ian

    I’ve had the RSD ronin in tobacco for nearly 2 years and the fit on me is excellent. I’m medium to thin with longish arms. No problems with quality but I haven’t gone down with it. It looks fantastic and I get compliments all the time on or off the bike.

  • owen

    What about the BMG Montana? it is, in my opinion the best looking (and priced) deal out there.

  • David Magallon

    A bit surprised the Icon Overlord isn’t on this list after it’s been so well regarded by RideApart staff. Replacement sku coming up?

  • Rowan

    Roland Sands Ronin +1. Awesome jacket. My girlfriend has the female version, ‘Maven’ and she loves it. The aftermarket RS armour is a bit chunky compared to Dainese but it does the job.

  • Zachary Laughrey

    Is there a reason that D3O isn’t more widely utilized? Is it cost prohibitive?

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      It’s not the best option out there. D3O requires a very form-fitting fit to be effective and the company itself is notoriously difficult to work with.

      • Zachary Laughrey

        I knew there had to be a reason. Thanks, I guess Ill stick to getting the Vanson

  • Austin

    Triumph makes nice jackets. I’m 6’1″ and most jackets are too short in the torso for me but both triumph jackets I’ve owned fit great.

  • Ben W

    The Icon 1000 Federal should dominate that list. Same thing here – we had a really hard time finding a good jacket for my wife that fit well.

  • Igor Belopolsky

    Any ideas when the ‘AR3′ Vanson is coming out? Hopefully before Spring? I need that jacket..

  • WhiteLight64

    What do y’all think of the Rev’it Roamer jacket?