Leathers vs Textiles
April 6, 2010 at 8:32 am #3844BlueTigerParticipant
I keep hearing conflicting views on which is better: Leathers or Textiles.
Could someone help me out?April 6, 2010 at 10:39 am #25451
I wrote a short essay comparing the two for a writing class last year. Give your email address and I’ll send it to you.April 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm #25459JackTradeParticipant
WeaponZero’s got it covered 10 ways from Sunday (maybe Ben will post your paper in the “recommended reading” area??) , but some basics:
Leather provides the best possible protection short of not actually riding a bike. And it can usually survive a moderate fall without having to replace it. It also looks damn cool…from a basic jacket to a full suit, nothing screams “motorcyclist” more. It is however expensive for the good stuff, and can be hot (even the perforated models) in the summer.
Textile provides less protection, but is less expensive. It’s designed to sacrifice itself in a crash, so you’ll (hopefully) come out unscathed, but your gear will be shredded. Can be hot in the summer too, but there is also mesh textile, which provides less protection, but is very cooling. Textile is often more bulky than leather, and you’ll make less-cool swooshing noises when you walk around.
I usually wear textile, but I do have a leather jacket for the fall/winter.April 6, 2010 at 2:19 pm #25443CBBaronParticipant
My reasons for textile were:
I wanted a jacket in Hi-Vis that was water proof/resistent, and had enough vents for riding in warm weather that wouldn’t break the bank. Basically a do it all jacket for a reasonable price. A textile was the only option.
I would not mind getting a nice leather jacket for cool dry weather and a mesh one for the worst heat, but those conditions are not that common in Ohio so those jackets can wait.
CraigApril 6, 2010 at 2:25 pm #25460ShamRock229Participant
It basically comes down to a balance of protection (and state of mind) vs comfort (fit, temperature, price). I have a textile fieldsheer bullet jacket and it protected me very well in my crash. Most textiles have many vents for temperature and are “lighter” than leathers. That being said, leather itself is stronger than textiles, but does tend to get hot (and sticky on those commutes where every red light is out to get you and you have so sit on your bike more than actually riding it…ughh). But it does offer better overall protection, although it is more expensive.
Now I’m in college and I see a lot of guys that wear no jacket whatsoever and they blame it on the South Georgia heat. In my opinion, its better to buy a textile jacket that is slightly cooler and wear it, than to wear nothing at all. Of course I dont know where you live, but the same is true in any place that is so hot that leather can be unbearable. Also, if your a new rider and are on a budget, a decent textile jacket will be less expensive than a leather jacket and will still offer good protection. So, in my opinion, it really depends on what youre looking to get out of the jacket and what you are willing to put up with temperature wise and financially.April 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm #25464
As far as functionality goes, leather’s only real advantages over textile are the obvious (more protective, can survive multiple crashes), and the fact that it’s easier to maintain. A leather jacket will also last longer the reinforced qualities of textile jackets do break down over time and the textile will weaken and lose its protective qualities somewhat over the years. Leather doesn’t have this problem.
Aside from those things, textile is better in virtually every way. It is arguably more comfortable, it can be made to adapt to a wide variety of different climate conditions whereas with leather you need a different jacket for each season, it can be made to be fully waterproof while leather can, at best, only be water “resistant,” and it can be made to fit different body types easier. If you can only own one riding jacket, it’s going to be textile because only with a textile jacket can you get one single “do-it-all” jacket for varying weather conditions. If anyone does own a leather jacket, it’s probably one of 3 or more riding jackets they own, at least one of which is textile. I own 3 myself, one hot weather leather jacket, one cool weather leather jacket, and one waterproof textile jacket that has enough climate control features to go from hot to cool weather riding as well.
The biggest downfall to textile jackets IMO is that they’re a pain to clean as they cannot be machine washed, dry cleaned, or anything. They must be hand washed and using very specific chemicals to avoid breaking down the protective qualities of the nylons that make up the jacket.
I could go more into detail about it if you wish…April 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm #25466ShamRock229Participant
“The biggest downfall to textile jackets IMO is that they’re a pain to clean as they cannot be machine washed, dry cleaned, or anything. They must be hand washed and using very specific chemicals to avoid breaking down the protective qualities of the nylons that make up the jacket.”
Tell me about it! Trying to clean the white parts on my jacket are nearly impossible. What do you usually use when cleaning yours?April 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm #25468April 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm #25470TrialsRiderParticipant
You missed one for Leather …smells great
BTW when the sides of the vinyl seat on my K bike ripped, I sprayed the entire seat with contact cement and stretched black garment leather over the entire seat. This resolved one of the original complaints about the K100, that the original seat was too slippery, and has lasted for many years in perfect condition. I was originally concerned that it might either take on water or transfer black dye to my pants, but have found that neither of these concerns are a problem. The leather dries with just a paper towel and having the original vinyl seat cover as a backing, it doesn’t take on water.April 6, 2010 at 3:15 pm #25471IBA270Participant
Both have their place…Textiles are superior for all around riding and protection in varying climates. Especially the better designed/built suits and jacket/pant combo’s that are designed to be layered as well as waterproof. Also, better constructed textile products are fine at freeway speeds. Actually, Aerostich Roadcrafter products are approved by a few road racing organizations, so those obviously crash pretty well.
With the exception of a few waterproof or resistant leather products out there, generally, leather is a PIA as an all around choice. If you’re out riding and get your leather soaked, it won’t necessarily ruin it, but you’re going to miserable riding in it until it dries!
I’ve got both (actually more than a few of both…) and they have their respective places. Occasionally I’ll wear my leather on the street, but always at the track. The textile never on the track but almost always on the street…where I don’t worry about the weather, I just ride.April 6, 2010 at 3:48 pm #25473eonParticipant
I’ve read that the protective qualities of leather will break down as it goes through several (or many) wet/dry cycles. It will stiffen up which makes it lose some of its abrasion protection. I think you are supposed to do something with your wet leather jacket but I’m not sure what. Dry it off with a towel when you get home?
I have not heard of textile jackets breaking down over time. I’ve also not heard that washing them is to be avoided. My textile jacket has the hand wash symbol on it and many machines have that setting so I would comfortably throw it in the machine. I would never do that with a leather jacket so even if I don’t use my washing machine I don’t see how it is any worse than leather?
I think I’ve said this on here before but it is worth repeating. The higher price textiles claim better abrasion protection than leather. Having hi-tech materials, such as ceramic particles embedded in the material, makes these claims believable. I know professional racers all wear leather but their suits are hand made and sprayed onto their body. If you compare like with like, say a $500 leather jacket against a $500 textile jacket I don’t think there is a clear cut winner as far which offers more protection.
But I do think leather looks better.April 6, 2010 at 10:33 pm #25486MunchParticipant
On the leather side. If you are going to be spending a good amount on them . I would hope you are taking steps to keep the leather in good condition. Weather sealers/polishes…. cleaning etc. I ride with my leather jacket more then anything and in many a down pour ….. some times for giggles…and not even the slightest hint of aging on it. Just make sure you wipe it down from time to time and throw some mink oil or whatever your preferrence is to keep the water to a minimum on soaking in.April 7, 2010 at 1:55 am #25494Sean_DParticipant
… unless they have leather trim (which one of my jackets does around the cuffs, neck and belt on a 3/4) you can take out the armor and machine wash them just fine. I have machine washed textile jackets and pants on gentle cycle and hung them to dry. I use a textile wash rather than a standard detergent such as Revit Textile Wash..
Holmenkol Textile Wash
or similar productApril 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm #25662
Bottom line is that nothing is more versatile (as far as adapting to different weather conditions goes) than textile. And nobody demands versatility more in a jacket than the common commuter. If you plan on using your bike to get to and from work as your main means of transportation and don’t want to have to fork out money for at least 3 different jackets, textile is your one, single, solitary option. If, however, you use your bike exclusively as a pleasure vehicle and only ride when the weather is ideal, then you don’t need that kind of versatility in a jacket and can opt for the premium protection of leather.April 18, 2010 at 7:12 pm #25822RabParticipant
As a year round commuter myself, yes, Weaponzero hit the nail on the head.
I can only comfortably wear my leather jacket on certain days. Not too hot and not too cold and not in the rain (even one with vents and a removable quilted liner). They’re also not very forgiving for those of us who are at an age where we are fighting a constant battle with our waist measurement.
Textile is what I wear most of the time although I do have a lined textile touring jacket for the Winter and a 3 season mesh with wind/waterproof liner jacket for the Spring, Summer and Autumn.
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