You know how the old song goes. “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.” Well, we’re here to tell you that there’s a third category that needs to be added here – motorcyclists. And that’s because ever since ancient Greek soldiers realised that going into battle in loincloths might make you look like a legendary warrior and keep you super cool, it sadly does diddly squat to keep you safe from danger.
Fast forward to the present day and that eternal tug-o-war is still going on. Sure, we know about All Of The Gear All Of The Time, but when the mercury really starts skyrocketing, who in their right mind wants to dress head-to-toe in toasty black leather?
So with that thought in mind, here are five killer options to keep you cool and safe next time you decide you want to enjoy a little summer motorcycling without the unwanted mobile sauna extras.
The ‘Just Get This One’ Option: Icon’s Mesh AF textile Jacket
No prizes for guessing what the ‘AF’ initials stand for here; and Icon aren’t kidding around, either. It’s not until you see this jacket in the flesh that you realise – surprise, surprise – it’s nothing but mesh across the chest, inside the arms and on the lower back. Yes, it may seem a little MC Hammer at first, but when worn with a suitably modest tee, it’s a really great option to keep you as cool as the Icon once the sun starts doing its thing. Although do note that if it rains, you’re totally taking a bath as it doesn’t come with a waterproof lining.
Of course, all those holes do have a downside, and that is much less abrasion resistance should you ever find yourself in an intimate encounter with some fast-moving bitumen. But being an Icon piece, the fit and finish is sure to please as will the company’s dedication to including top quality 3DO armour in all their jackets.
While uber airflow mostly means a reduction in abrasion resistance, it’s nice to know that you can still get both providing your pockets are deep enough. Enter the Helite ‘Free-Air’ Airbag Jacket. Equipped with their impressive-yet-comical-sounding ‘Turtle Airbag’ technology for maximum protection, it also has a 600D Cordura exterior with mesh panels for windtunnel levels of breeze. And unlike the Icon jacket above, the Helite comes with a removable waterproof liner for those unexpected downpours or cold snaps.
Put simply, if you plan on crunching some serious road miles in the summer months and you want ultimate safety, real cooling and max convenience, you’re going to want to get this one. Sure, it’s not as cool-looking as some of the other options here, but you probably won’t care after you step off your bike at the end of the day still cool, alert and comfortable.
Colours: Black & grey, black & hi-viz
MALE/FEMALE OPTIONS: No, but check out the Helite Xena for a leather airbag alternative
MATERIAL: Abrasion-resistant 600D Cordura
PROTECTORS: CE approved shoulder and elbow protectors, SAS-TEC CE 2 back protector
Airbag fully inflates in less than 0.1 seconds
Removable waterproof liner
Retro-reflective piping at front, back and arms
Abrasion-resistant 600D Cordura
Zippered cuffs with strap adjustment
1 60cc CO2 cartridge and 1 lanyard included
All sizes use the 60cc CO2 cartridge
The ‘I’m Not Wearing a Jacket’ option: REV’IT! Tracer Air Overshirt
Because sometimes in summer you don’t want to look like you’re about to ride across the continent; especially if you are just riding around the block. But staying safe isn’t about the length of the ride you’re going on, as accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. So here’s something from Dutch gear gurus Rev’it that’s lightweight, vented and safe – and it also just happens to make you look as casual as you like.
While technically it’s still a mesh jacket, its finer, tighter weave has the look of a solid textile while still allowing air to flow around your buff, sculpted torso. It’s also a great example of the so-cool-right-now ‘Work look’ moto gear. But unlike a factory shirt, this thing comes with elbow pads, shoulder pads and the option of a back protector. Over all this mesh, already? No problems, as it also comes in a non-mesh style and yes, those shirt-style collars are button-down-able.
FIT: Box cut
MALE/FEMALE OPTIONS: No, but check out the Eclipse
MATERIAL: PWR | Mesh
PROTECTORS: Seesmart CE Level 1 protection. Pocket for optional SeeSoft back protector Type RV
Triple needle stitching
Short connection zipper
The ‘Cheap & Cheerful’ option: Fly Racing Street Air Raid Jacket
If getting the job done with a minimum of coin loss is your jam, here’s a super popular option that’s ticking all the boxes without flicking all your cash. With a long Motocross heritage, these Fly guys really know a thing or two about warm weather comfort. Hell, how many dirt bike riders do you know who are out in the snow attacking sick jumps? With real two-season usability, it’s also a mesh chassis with 600D polyester on the bash zones to make sure it’s going to stand up against asphalt attack.
With this popular model at the end of its lifespan and currently available at remarkably reasonable prices, the Air Raid is soon to be replaced with the Flux Air Mesh Jacket, which is also very much worth checking out.
Colours: Black/black & white/black & hi-viz
MALE/FEMALE OPTIONS: No, but check out the Flux Air
MATERIAL: 600D Polyester
PROTECTORS: CE Level 1 removable armor in shoulders and elbows
Diamond mesh for maximum airflow
High abrasion-resistant nylon fabric used in impact areas for added protection
Protective PE back pad
360 degree high-visibility reflective panels for added safety
Removable HydraGuard liner for superior waterproofing and breathability
3D mesh collar for optimum breathability
Adjustable VELCRO® brand cuff and waist adjustment
Arm volume adjusters secure armor and provide customized fit
Belt loop snap and waist jacket-to-pants connection zipper
The ‘Dirt Superhero’ option: Alpinestars Bionic Action Jacket
For those of us whose tires have more knobs than grooves, here’s a tried and true summer option from Alpine Stars, the snow-gear-turned-go-gear maker and one of motorcycling’s best-known brands. Yes, it looks rad but it also is surprisingly affordable. And with more holes than even Icon’s potty-mouthed Mesh AF, this thing is quite literally all protectors and not much of anything else. But boy, doesn’t it look tough? Sadly, it doesn’t come standard with superpowers, but it will protect you like a superhero.
Designed to be a motocrosser’s go-to protection, the jacket should also provide superior safety for dual-sporters and flat trackers, too. And if the plastic muscles look doesn’t take your fancy, you can always improve things by throwing a MX jersey over the top, such as this tasty little Fasthouse Carbon number. But as with all off-road gear, it’s important to note that they aren’t designed for on-road use, and they probably won’t be staying in place should you come off at freeway speeds on surfaces that have much higher friction coefficients than good ol’ dirt or grass.
Colours: Black & red
MALE/FEMALE OPTIONS: No, but check out the Stella Bionic alternative
MATERIAL: High performance polymeric blend
PROTECTORS: Back protector CE certified against EN 1621_2:2014 Level 1
Divided chest protector CE certified against EN 1621_3:2016 Level 2
Back protector developed in three waist-to-shoulder dimensions in order to cover all body sizes
All shells optimized flexibility and excellent weight-saving properties
All shells are highly perforated for maximum breathability and air ventilation
Single injected shells constructed with a back integrated grid structure which absorb and dissipate impacts forces
Shells are vented and channeled to improve airflow and prevent heat buildup
Ergonomic protection shell contour following the natural curve of the back ensuring optimum fit while riding
Plates lock to prevent overextension of the back
Removable upper back panel for Bionic Neck Support compatibility
Soft touch BNS puller for convenient and safe engagement of the BNS
Shoulder and elbow adjustment straps for personal fitment
Lateral adjustment straps to tighten the back protector towards the chest shell for safe and secure fit
Kidney belt to tighten the back protector to the body
Technical elastane main construction is highly breathable and retains shape
Shoulder reinforcement for BNS attachment and position stability of protector