A jacket is an important article of clothing when riding a motorcycle. While the basic solid leather jacket has long been a staple of motorcycle riders, more options are now available. Among the contemporary riders’ choices are mesh and Cordura fabric.
Cordura is a trademarked brand name for durable fabrics. The company that makes Cordura fabrics is Invista. Cordura is often referred to as ballistic fabric and is used for various applications. A mesh jacket can be made of either synthetic materials or leather. Rather than being a type of material, mesh refers to the perforations in the material.
A solid Cordura jacket is wind- and water-resistant. Thermal linings can increase the warmth of the jacket. Some styles have interior pockets for body armor, which adds protection. Mesh jackets usually are worn in warmer weather to provide protection yet increase air flow to keep the rider cool. They almost always come with body armor, because they do not have as much protection as a solid Cordura or leather jacket. Mesh styles come with thermal and rain-resistant liners to expand the use of the jacket.
Mesh jackets without a liner allow more of the elements to get through, but a 2-in-1 or a 3-in-1 can provide as much protection against rain and cold as a solid Cordura jacket. Protection from asphalt in the case of a spill depends on a couple of factors. Cordura material itself is very strong so, if the jacket is made well, it should withstand the friction; added body armor will provide even more protection. A mesh jacket reinforced with armor will also provide good protection, but a solid Cordura jacket is likely to fare better against road rash.
Cordura and mesh are not mutually exclusive in a jacket. A style can employ both Cordura and mesh. Jackets are constructed with solid Cordura in critical areas such as the shoulders and elbows, and have mesh sewn into the underarms and sides of the torso for air flow.
Cruisers, tourers and sport bikers have options in both mesh jackets and Cordura fabric jackets. Because sport bike riders tend to lean forward while riding, jacket backs tend to extend further and usually provide zippers to attach riding pants. Tourers sit more upright and often have back rests on their motorcycles for comfort on long rides, so the zipper in the back of a sport jacket can be uncomfortable. It’s important to buy a jacket that is made for the type of riding you’ll be doing.
Cordura and mesh jackets come in a wide range of prices. Harley-Davidson makes some styles of leather jackets with panels that zip off to reveal a mesh jacket. These jackets can run as high as $500. On the low end, mesh jackets with limited features can be found for less than $100. The same is true for jackets made with Cordura. Search the Internet for reviews and prices on Cordura and mesh jackets; some sites are listed in Resources.