Motorcycle commuting? No sweat.
March 30, 2007 8:23 AM   Subscribe

No sweat motorcycle commuting?

I'm enjoying my new era of being a motorcycle commuter, but the weather is about to turn armpit hot here in the Southeastern US and I'm trying to find a way to arrive at work without looking like a sweaty beast. Are mesh motorcycle jackets a realistic alternative to heavier weight jackets? Any recommendations on good models? Any other advice?

Relevant info (maybe): 5 mile commute, urban traffic, max speed ~40mph, I'm a slightly taller than average fellow.
posted by 1f2frfbf to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Mesh is great. I've used the JR Phoenix for a while, and my roomie's wrecked in one without any ill effects. Check over at for good deals.

However, you still might want to wear a T-shirt on the bike and keep a fresh undershirt and your starched buttondown in the tank bag until you get to the office.
posted by SpecialK at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2007

Can you leave parts of the jacket unzipped? You know, so the wind shoots in there and cools you off? There's probably some harley forums where people could help you.
posted by GleepGlop at 9:18 AM on March 30, 2007

Yes, mesh, although mesh is still hot if you're not moving. (Not moving is the worst, because you don't just get no breeze, you get engine heat.)

Don't leave parts of the jacket unzipped, because you won't have time to zip them back up before you go down.
posted by mendel at 9:23 AM on March 30, 2007

Best answer: I've a mesh jacket, which I wear as I cycle commute two or three times a week in Washington DC summers.
IMO, they're ... OK. They're a compromise. They don't offer nearly the protection of leather, and despite the mesh they do insulate you and trap heat, but unless you're stopped dead in traffic, or the temp climbs to 100 (or both) they're reasonably comfortable and offer a lot more protection than no jacket. A good online source for them and other riding gear is New Enough
posted by mojohand at 10:09 AM on March 30, 2007

Mesh jackets work pretty well. I usually wear a perforated leather jacket for my summer commute (joe rocket blaster somethingoranother...) in NC.

I usually don't find the jacket to be as hot as the helmet, but then I wear a black full face helmet. Light colors are better heat wise of course, especially sitting at a stop light. But unfortunately motorcycle gear seems to come in "none more black" or "power ranger" as far as color choices go.
posted by alikins at 10:25 AM on March 30, 2007

If you have a stop-and-go commute mesh is going to be better than another type of jacket because it'll be a tiny bit cooler when you stop but I find that a regular jacket with lots of venting does a better job of keeping you cool because the wind gets trapped inside and blows around you.

Either way, do what Special K says: wear a t-shirt and have your businesswear in the tank bag.
posted by ChuckLeChuck at 10:32 AM on March 30, 2007

If you wear a full face helmet, it's worth it to pay for a really nice one with good ventilation. I got a Shoei X-11 after having a piece of junk for a while, and it was night and day. More ventilation means more noise, though, and of course it makes no difference if you're stuck in traffic.
posted by kableh at 11:30 AM on March 30, 2007

I picked up a mesh jacket from newenough for about $40 on super extra clearance. It does a great job of letting the breeze blow through while you're moving, especially if you open the vents. I do notice that the spots on my back and arms where the armor sits get a little damp, but my commute is only about 2.5 miles, so it's not too bad. I also commute at "off-hours" - 10:00 am and 7 pm, so there's a lot less sitting in traffic. Lane splitting helps with the sitting in traffic thing too, but I'm in California, YMMV.
posted by bendy at 12:35 PM on March 30, 2007

Best answer: Variations on this question come up all the time at forums like ADVrider. In fact, here is an ongoing thread called "the best mesh jacket."
posted by Forktine at 12:55 PM on March 30, 2007

Aerostitch makes strong suits that aren't leather or mesh. They will protect you if you go down and aren't as hot. They aren't cheap, though.
posted by SciGuy at 9:30 PM on March 30, 2007

Mesh is great.
Important is to stay moving for airflow regardless of what you end up going with.
I have the Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket, I crashed with the first one and got another one afterward (they cut that one off me) with any jacket I will say to make sure the sleeves are SNUG around your wrist when you ride - mine were and the right one still pushed up over my elbow in the crash.
Also have a tourmaster Cortech which is heavier and ballistic nylon water resistant/proof with a zip out liner and lots of vent slots you can unzip. Better for spring and fall riding and winter with the liner in. (Texas here)

I never ride without full gear and the JR mesh jacket does fine in 100+ degrees as long as you are moving.
posted by clanger at 11:16 AM on March 31, 2007

mine were and the right one still pushed up over my elbow in the crash.

This is a common problem with Joe Rocket jackets, Clanger. The forearms and biceps need to be tight, too.
posted by SpecialK at 5:38 PM on March 31, 2007

I'll second the Aerostich, it might not be as cool as a mesh jacket but you can unzip armpits, open side flaps and I've even heard of riders filling their pockets with water to help cool down since they're waterproof.

And the protection is superb. I love my Aerostich.
posted by fenriq at 12:01 PM on April 17, 2007

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