Beyond being a fashion, the protective jacket is an essential garment in a motorcyclist’s wardrobe. For some it may not be necessary, but let’s face it, there is no need to expose our security for the simple fact of not wanting to “get involved” with it.In addition, the jacket is not a garment that appeared a few years ago, it has been a long time since an accessory began to be developed that would allow the motorcyclist to be protected without losing style.
Have you ever wondered where the beginnings of the protective jacket you use to ride go back to badass history of biker fashion?
Initially, the leather jacket began to be used by the aviators of the First World War, so that they could be protected from the cold since the planes had started to fly higher and faster and they needed a functional garment, with padded parts (usually lined with sheep’s wool) and thick collars.
From airplanes, the jacket passed to motorcyclists. The initial design of the jacket was a knee-length model, just like the German army used it, but since they were so cumbersome for driving, it was necessary to cut them short. It should be noted that the main feature of this jacket was the thick, hard and rigid leather to protect the skin in the event of a possible fall.
“NYC Perfect” Designed by Schott Brothers
The “Perfect” was the first and most famous leather jacket properly considered for motorcyclists. It was designed by the Schott brothers in 1928 and they named it “NYC Perfecto” for two reasons: NYC for New York City as it was the first city where this copy was sold and Perfecto was the Schott brothers’ favorite brand of cigars. This jacket had a diagonal zipper, flap pocket, and three other zipper pockets.
The jacket quickly became a popular accessory among motorcyclists and managed to attract the attention of renowned motorcycle brands such as Harley Davidson, which in 1930 became one of the first distributors of motorcycle jackets.
But world fame came in 1953, the year this jacket became a fashion icon when Marlon Brando appeared wearing one of these in the movie “The wild one” or “Savage”, in which he embodied the life of a leader of a biker gang.
In the 1950s, the leather jacket went from just a fashion icon to a cultural icon. The jacket was synonymous with rebellion and had become part of the clothing of rocker culture.
The rockers basically agreed in their musical tastes for the nascent rock and roll of Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, among others, who had attitudes similar to rebellious characters in movies, such as the one played by Marlon Brando.
This is how having a leather jacket and in turn owning a motorcycle, was adopted as a symbol of freedom among the youth of the time.But, for being associated with the world of motorcycles and its rebellious image, in many schools they prohibited the use of this garment.
The Cafe Racer was, and still is today, a popular style of motorcycling and motorcycle in Europe and especially in the United Kingdom, made up of supporters of the Rocker culture who customized their motorcycles putting speed and agility as a priority.
Those who were part of this movement used to wear a leather jacket with marked differences from the Perfect American. The Cafe Racer was more vintage, as can be seen in the image.The name of this culture comes from the fact that road cafes began to appear on British motorways, which were frequented by motorcyclists who did speed competitions between cafeteria and cafeteria.
According to urban legends, one form of competition was to put on a record, generally rock and roll, take the motorcycle, go to a certain point on the highway and return to the cafeteria before the song ended.The Cafe Racer were adapting to the full-face helmets of the time, which is why they stopped making them with collars. It was also normal to see them with all kinds of decorations like “motor clubs” patches.
Thinking about Protection
In 1968, seeing that the leather jacket was an element that motorcyclists considered essential, Lino Dainese began to manufacture protective suits for motorcyclists (mono suits). And starting this year, companies that made clothing for bikers began to place an emphasis on safety.
In the 80’s, the first protective gloves were launched (see protective gloves here) and knee sliders were also introduced. The boots, although they were used from the same time that the leather jacket began to be used, they began to be produced more ergonomic and with protections.
Specifically in 1983, the protection of a soft base and a hard shell appeared that allowed to absorb and disperse the force of the impact, which is why the jackets that were manufactured with protection were very rigid and did not allow the motorcyclist to have much mobility.
In the 90’s, the detail of the rigidity of the garment was taken into account and also the different conditions of use (winter, summer, trips within the city, long trips …), so accessories with soft protections were developed that they looked for the comfort and mobility of the biker.
At this time, the Moto GP saw the importance of adopting protections for its riders and made other sports other than motorcycling begin to implement protections for practitioners.
Between 2000 and 2015, the installation of the air bag system began in the garments used in the Moto GP, and thenit was available to the public. Safety is not a luxury, which is why there are constant studies to improve each garment that the motorcyclist wears.
It is true that the evolution of the motorcycle jacket has been marked by trends in style, fashion and culture, but in recent times and with the advancement of technology, it has become essential to give priority to the safety of the rider, so they have been developed materials that are super resistant to abrasion and tears.In addition, the basic protections for the back, shoulders and arms must meet impact and friction tests to meet the international standards and regulations that are quite demanding.
The current market offers an infinity of jackets in different materials and for different uses (sports, urban, for long trips, casual …) (buy yours here) the important thing and that you should always keep in mind, is that the jacket complies with the due certifications so that you can rest easy when shooting.