Several countries require motorcyclists to wear protective clothing. This may include helmets, jackets, pants, gloves and boots. This is done mainly to protect the motorcycle rider from serious injury in case of an accident. Motorcycle jackets are a common piece of protective clothing worn by riders and are generally made of tough materials such as leather, nylon or Kevlar. Compared to fashion jackets, these jackets are heavier, thicker, and often include an extra layer of heavy padding on the elbow, spine and shoulder regions.
Ross Langlitz, a resident of Portland, Oregon, invented the classic American motorcycle jacket with epaulets and diagonal zipper in 1946. This jacket became highly popular after it was worn by Marlon Brando in the movie, The Wild One (1954).
Besides offering protection from serious injuries, some motorcycle jackets also provide protection from the weather elements. A motorcyclist is often exposed to chilly winds and rain. Ordinary jackets offer little or no protection in bad weather, whereas motorcycle jackets are waterproof and do not allow wind chills to affect the rider.
Leather motorcycle jackets are usually made from buffalo, cow or elk hide and vary in thickness. Compared to leather jackets, protective motorcycle jackets made of man-made material such as nylon and Kevlar are becoming increasingly popular, due to their ability to offer better protection from heat, cold and rain. These jackets can have more pockets and vents, offering greater utility and more comfort, especially in summer.
Trail bike riders usually prefer to wear a range of plastic armor to protect against injury from falling off, collision with other riders and running into track barriers. This armor helps protect a rider from suffering fractures, spinal injuries and other serious injuries of a similar nature.