Why Summer Jackets Are Better Than Sunblock



Why Summer Jackets Are Better Than Sunblock

First and foremost summer jackets protect your skin in case of an accident. The skin on your body is your largest organ, and the most subjected to the outside world. Your skin helps regulate your temperature, get too hot and capillaries near the skins surface enlarge to cool the blood, too cold and they shrink to keep the blood centralized to your core. This is where a jacket comes in, it helps the skin work more efficiently when riding a motorcycle. Let’s face it, skin wasn’t designed for high speeds or riding on motorcycles.

They added the sweating part. It’s not accurate, sweating is a natural action to regulate temperature. When you stop sweating in extreme heat your skin would be overwhelmed. Skin, when exposed to these conditions long enough, will also burn. We’ve all been a lobster at some point in our lives, haven’t we?

Wearing a jacket protects the skin from the sun helping to keep the skin’s surface temperature lower, opposed to being directly exposed to it. Yes, when sitting on a hot bike, on a hot day, on asphalt, you will be hotter in a jacket. No one is suggesting otherwise. Once at speed, however, a well ventilated jacket will circulate air over the skin to help maintain a more survivable temperature. This creates a cooling effect due to evaporation of the moisture from sweat and the air flowing over the surface making your skin more efficient at regulating temperature

Yes, someone reading this right now is saying, “Well, not wearing a jacket lets air do the same thing!”. True, the air will move over the skin creating a cooling effect. The difference is the water from the skin is evaporating much more quickly when it’s exposed directly to the sun. The skins surface temperature is higher as well. Combined, this causes you to dehydrate quicker as your skin dries out at a higher rate.

As the sweat gets wicked away by different materials in jackets, it remains close to the skin versus complete evaporation. Resulting in that wonderful cooling sensation when your shirt is soaked and nice breeze picks up.

Remember a jacket can save your skin in several ways. The most important is that it will keep it in place if you have an accident.

  • Jack McLovin

    Someone needs to introduce a new bike because these slow news days are getting more and more frequent. Next up water is wet and how well do you know your motorcycle, in the biblical sense.

    • William Connor

      Ouch. Not everyone understands the concept behind this or even thinks about the importance of proper protection. This site is about more than just the latest new motorcycle.

      • MrDefo

        This concept has been brought up on the site before, but repeating it is worthwhile. If anything, it gives “suns out, guns out” people another reason to wear their jacket, which they always should.

    • BobasBounty

      While it isn’t groundbreaking, comparing the cooling abilities of a jacket to nothing with water is wet is a big stretch. If that was common knowledge, you wouldn’t see construction workers in short sleeves all the time.

      Wouldn’t mind seeing some recommendations on good “egg frying temperature” jackets tacked on though! I know you guys did a summer jacket list a couple of weeks ago, but I think those were all sport jackets.

      • Stuki

        Construction workers generate lots of heat internally. Bare skin helps lose this heat better than covered skin. But, bare skin also increases heat from the sun. If you sit still on a bike, the incremental heat added by the sun, is possibly greater than the difference in cooling ability of bare skin vs covered skin. While for hard workers, the internally generated heat from all that work, may tip the scale the other way. Bedouins sitting on the back of camels cover themselves up, but when they wrestle, they strip down.

    • http://motorraderdreams.blogspot.com/ Eyvind Mondragon

      Actually, this article is important and far better than Siler’s “10 ways my boots smell now different than when new”.
      Far too many people forgoes the protection of a jacket in the summer. People looks at me as if I’m crazy wearing all that protection in this weather (90F). I wear it all the time. That’s the point of this article, rising awareness. Keep it Connor.

      BTW, since we are in the topic of jackets. Could you please run an actual (not of specs) review of the best -waterproof- jackets to wear in the hottest weather possible (90+F). I have a FirstGear Kenya waterproof jacket. I stopped wearing it because I would get more wet from my own sweat than from the rain.
      So, I would like to see some options that are – real life tested – for this application.
      Other than just getting a mesh jacket and just getting wet (it’s so hot here, that the rain is warm, but it’s awful to be all wet).

      In this weather, wearing the appropriate protection is paramount, because “the best protection is the one you always wear”. So, it doesn’t matter how awesome some gear looks, or protects. If it’s hot, cumbersome, etc, and people doesn’t want to go through the trouble and wear it, it’s useless.
      That’s why I force myself to use my best protection: my summer leathers (Dainese Alien Estivo, and BMW Kushitani)… but they are HOT, I want to have a summer alternative that is as protective.

      • BobasBounty

        Aren’t most or all waterproofing technologies going to be warmer? Some breathe better than others, but you’re never going to get waterproof that vents like mesh because… mesh is holes lol.

        Why not get and under or over waterproof layer to keep on hand while wearing a mesh jacket?

        • http://motorraderdreams.blogspot.com/ Eyvind Mondragon

          Yeap, you’re right.

          I do have a few sets of waterproofs (just light wp fabric) to go over stuff. It’s so cumbersome, I just ride wet, and have a change of undies. I don’t mind getting wet… it’s just the sensation after you step off the bike.
          I also ride everyday everywhere. Even to business appointments… (my car has been almost retired).
          I even saw the Aerostitch Transit (all waterproof leathers). Everybody who’s wore them can’t get enough of them. Truly WP, and “not so hot” they say.
          Also, I’m not really a fan of those “layered” solutions. It’s like dealing with WP overs, but they are inside your jacket. It’s just awful.

          So, I’ll get a good Dainese mesh jacket. You’re right. I will never get something WP and cool in this part of the world.


          • BobasBounty

            Yea, anything over 90F is just going to feel like a hair dryer no matter what you’re wearing. I have gotten a little clever and started adding ice to the water bladder in my backpack. It’s pretty much a godsend in traffic on a hot day!

      • Stuki

        Staying cool requires air to circulate over your skin so that sweat evaporates. In order to prevent water from getting in, a jacket will be impermeable enough to also prevent air from getting in. In laboratory conditions, it is possible to get an occasional air molecule through a membrane that is generally not permeable to liquid water (Goretex et al), but in real life, it just doesn’t work well enough to matter. You just have to take your pick; keep rain and air out, or let the both in. Make a judgement call depending on the weather on any given ride. Or, wear a breathable jacket, and carry a packable rain coat.

        Wearing a very lose fitting raincoat, that baloons at speed, does somewhat work, but has all manners of other drawbacks.

        For max protection mesh, Motoport’s kevlar mesh are probably the best there is. Popular amongst cops, amongst others. I don’t believe them for a second when they claim their mesh wear is “more” protective than racing leathers, but I doubt anyone else makes more protective mesh.

      • Gabe Cosarca

        I have a textile mesh jacket and leather mesh jacket, both have “water proof” liners which bake you alive. Keeping the liner unzipped in front helps airflow and keeps you cooler but you are letting water in and your back and arms are still sweating. I’d rather be soaked by the rain then by my sweat.

      • eddi

        I’ve tried a cooling vest. the kind you soak and wear. Messy but very effective. Two or three hours before you have to re-soak it. Depending on how fast you’re going and how dry the air is. I save for the summer heat waves here when temps hit 100 F for a couple days.

        Here’s one that uses ice packs. http://www.amazon.com/Body-Cooling-Cold-Pack-Systems/dp/B000S89HGC
        Here’s the one I use. http://www.revzilla.com/product/fieldsheer-iceberg-vest

        • Sportbike Mike

          I have two. One for riding and one for working on stuff outside. It works really well here in Arizona where its dry. I wear one over a moisture wicking long sleeve shirt to become impervious to mosquitoes why working in the yard or tinkering on the bike.

    • http://www.rideapart.com/ Nolan Zandi

      New bike reviews next week brother. Being ridden as we speak (or type).

      • Heath Collins

        I’ve always wanted a touring-farkled ZX14.

  • MichaelEhrgott

    ATGATT: The Article

    • Davidabl2

      Summer edition.

      • http://blog.duder.net Stephen Wuebker

        2: Electric Boogaloo

  • Reid

    Yes, see someone reading this right now is saying, “Well, not wearing a jacket let’s air do the same thing!”.

    Is there nobody in the office who knows how to proof-read?

    • William Connor

      I asked for edits to be made, they should be live.

      • Reid

        It’s not your fault. Anyone who has worked any length of time in a newsroom has had to deal with stuff slipping through the cracks.

      • http://www.rideapart.com/ Nolan Zandi

        Yeah, we try to get on it as quick as we can. Fixed!

        • William Connor

          It’s appreciated!

    • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

      Blogs don’t have editors, and the ones that do are lying about their job.

  • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

    I like the Joe Rocket Velocity jacket. It’s not the most stylish piece I own, but it has CE-rated armor, leather in “impact zones”, and mesh everywhere else. It’s a pretty decent compromise between protection and airflow.

    • PaddingtonPoohBear

      Not stylish?!? That looks like something Capt. Picard would wear! =D I have the high viz version of a similar jacket (Alter Ego 3) and love it – 3 layers for when it’s cold or just the mesh for when it’s hot. People point and sometimes even laugh but that’s the point – they see me! =P

    • LS650

      “Make it so!”

    • choerenz

      quick question – in looking at this jacket on revzilla, it looks like this jacket comes with minimal armor. Can you comment on the protection side of this jacket? Looks great and the price is definitely right.

      • Alpha_Geek_Mk2

        It’s minimal, but good quality. There are CE-rated elbow and shoulder pieces, and it has an internal compartment for a back protector. If I’m going to be spending a lot of time on the road at relatively low speeds I’ll throw in one of these ( http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/alpinestars-bionic-air-back-protector-insert ), for a little extra protection while retaining airflow. I wouldn’t wear it on the freeway but it’s awesome for commuting in hot weather.

        • choerenz

          Thanks – that is helpful.

  • William Connor

    There is more stories coming along the lines everyone is talking about. I went through a very tedious process selecting a weatherproof riding jacket that is also cool enough for summer.

  • Curious

    The bike on the photo … what model and brand is it?

    • LS650

      Recent Kawasaki KLR650.

    • Squabbles

      KLR 650, they’re beasts and not for the faint of heart. Massive power and instantaneous response making it virtually impossible to keep the front wheel down for all but the most well trained rider.

      • Heath Collins


      • Michael

        I had to put on 50lbs myself just to keep the front wheel from flying up all the time. And I only have 46,000 miles on mine. ;)

  • KC

    I picked up a silver summer mesh jacket and it’s great! It makes riding on a hot sunny day comfortable.

  • choerenz

    I’m convinced about wearing a jacket – I’ll never ride without protection anywhere. What I want to see is a well written piece that actually compares jackets for cooling effect and safety. I want to know which mesh jackets (if any) will hold up the best in a crash. Then once we’ve established that there are some decent options, then rank them on which ones flow the best air.

    • William Connor

      The crash part would be theoretical unless you get a manufacturer to allow you to destroy their gear in simulated accidents. Testing multiple jackets would be worthwhile. You can tell what has better adjustments, armor, and stitching.

      • choerenz

        I think top manufacturers should provide jackets for just these kind of tests. In the end the first and most important feature should be whether the jacket will hold up under basic crash conditions. Reviewers seldom seem to focus on the materials and more often on the style of the jacket. Discussing the materials used in high impact areas would be a start. I’m currently looking at several Dainese mesh jackets but can’t find any comprehensive review that compares top brands against each other in safety or any of the less important categories.

        • William Connor

          There are people willing to do that type of review and testing. I appreciate that insight and will make sure to keep that in mind during any reviews I do.

          • choerenz

            So William,

            If its really hot and you take something mesh, what jacket do you trust?

            • William Connor

              I don’t currently own a mesh jacket. I ride with a Klim Latitude jacket and pants. If I were to buy a mesh jacket I would look for a couple things. I would want a back protector standard, D30 armor is a personal favorite, and I prefer a mesh hybrid that has high flow panels and solid textile for the impact areas. Something like http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/revit-airwave-jacket is very good. Not D30 but good armor and you do have to buy the back protector separate but at least it’s an option. More money but my personal choice would be http://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/klim-induction-jacket , checks all the boxes I mentioned.