How to Soften New Leather Motorcycle Jacket

How to Soften New Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Posted by Team Motorcycle on Feb 17th 2024

The material can feel stiff and uncomfortable when getting a new leather motorcycle jacket. While there are products made specifically for softening leather, you can also break in your new jacket using things you likely have at home.

With some simple techniques, you can soften the leather in your new jacket quickly. You can make your jacket feel more supple and comfortable while riding in just a few steps. Follow the techniques in this blog to learn how to soften your new leather motorcycle jacket at home.

Why You Need to Break in Your New Leather Motorcycle Jacket

A new leather motorcycle jacket requires a breaking-in period to become comfortable and conform to your body.

Fit and Flexibility

When first purchased, leather jackets tend to be stiff and rigid. Regular wear softens the leather and becomes more stretchy, contouring your shape. This improves the overall fit and range of motion. Give your new jacket 2 to 4 weeks of frequent use to break in for ideal flexibility and fitfulness.

Weather Protection

New, untreated leather does not provide maximum weather resistance. As you wear and condition the leather, it builds a protective finish that helps repel moisture and wind. Treat your jacket with a quality leather conditioner or oil, especially after the first few wears. This will waterproof the leather and strengthen weather protection.


An unbroken-in leather jacket can feel stiff and scratchy against the skin. Breaking in the jacket softens the leather, increasing comfort and breathability. The leather molds to your body, reducing stiffness and abrasion. Regular care and conditioning will make your jacket as comfortable as your favorite jeans.

Investing in a high-quality leather motorcycle jacket is a long-term decision. Taking the time to break in your new jacket properly will reward you with an article of clothing to provide comfort, weather protection, and longevity for years of riding adventures. With regular use and care, that stiff new jacket will soon become a trusted and valued part of your riding gear.

Tips and Tricks to Soften Your New Leather Motorcycle Jacket

To speed up the softening process of a new leather motorcycle jacket, there are several techniques you can employ.

Apply Rubbing Alcohol And Vaseline

Apply a mixture of rubbing alcohol and Vaseline to the jacket with a soft cloth, rubbing it into the leather. The alcohol will help loosen the fibers while the Vaseline moisturizes the leather. Wipe away any excess and let the jacket dry completely. Repeat this a few times to achieve the desired softness.

Using a Commercial Leather Softener:

Purchase a product specifically designed to soften, condition and protect leather. Follow the directions to massage the softener into your jacket. These products contain emollients to soften the leather and wax to protect the surface. You may need to apply the softener a few times for severe stiffening.

Natural Oils:

Use natural oils with moisturizing properties to help soften your new leather jacket. Oils such as jojoba, coconut, olive or mink oil can be effective. Apply the oil with a soft cloth, rubbing it into the leather. Let it soak in for at least 30 minutes, then buff away any excess oil with a clean cloth. Reapply as needed until you have reached your desired level of softness.

With regular use and care, your new leather motorcycle jacket will become suppler and more comfortable over time. Combining these techniques will help speed up the process, allowing you to enjoy your jacket even sooner.

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Different Types of Leather & Their Stiffness

There are many types of leather, each with its unique characteristics, including stiffness. The following are some common types of leather and their stiffness levels:

Cowhide leather

Cowhide leather, typically used in motorcycle jackets, is stiff when new. Cowhide comes from cattle, usually cows, and is one of the most common leathers used for jackets and clothing. To soften cowhide, apply a leather conditioner and break in the jacket by wearing it around the house. The natural oils in your body will help ease the stiff cowhide.

Deerskin leather

Deerskin leather is soft and elastic. Jackets made of deerskin are naturally comfortable and do not require much breaking in. Deerskin is a premium leather that feels buttery soft to the touch. If deerskin leather stiffens over time, apply a high-quality leather conditioner to restore suppleness.

Lambskin leather

Lambskin leather is the softest and most supple of leather. Jackets made of lambskin are highly comfortable and flexible from the start. However, lambskin leather is also the most delicate and requires frequent conditioning to maintain softness and prevent cracking. Due to its softness, lambskin leather may provide less protection than cowhide or deerskin.

The leather type used in a motorcycle jacket determines how much breaking in, and conditioning is required to achieve an ideal level of softness and comfort.

In summary, stiffer leathers like cowhide require more effort, while softer leathers such as lambskin call for extra care and maintenance. Regular use and proper conditioning make any leather jacket smooth and supple as a well-worn favorite.

Tips for Keeping Leather from Becoming Stiff

To maintain leather items' quality and appearance, they must be soft and supple. Keeping leather stiff can be prevented by following these tips:

Condition Regularly

To keep leather supple, apply a quality leather conditioner every few months. Conditioner moisturizes leather and replaces natural oils lost through environmental exposure and regular use. Follow the directions on the product packaging and massage the conditioner thoroughly into the leather with a soft cloth.

Avoid Extremes

Leather can become stiff when exposed to hot or cold temperatures for prolonged periods. Avoid leaving your leather jacket in extreme heat or cold, such as in a hot attic or freezing garage, when possible. Keep the jacket at room temperature in a closet or storage area when not in use.

Wear and Use

One of the best ways to prevent leather from stiffening is simply wearing and using the item regularly. Putting a jacket through its paces, so to speak, helps keep the material flexible and pliant. If you cannot wear the item often, gently flexing and manipulating the leather occasionally can help. Storing leather in a folded position for long periods can lead to creasing and stiffness.

Professional Care

For stubborn stiffness or if the leather has become very dry, it may require professional conditioning treatment from a leather care expert. A leather specialist has the proper products, tools, and expertise to restore leather suppleness and moisture. Professional care can revive leather and add years of life to your favorite jacket.

Following these helpful tips and adequately caring for your leather motorcycle jacket will help keep the material soft, supple and comfortable for years of riding enjoyment. Regular conditioning and use will make your jacket more pliant and molded to your body, like a second skin.

How long does it take to soften a leather motorcycle jacket?

The time it takes to soften a leather motorcycle jacket depends on the type of leather. Softer leathers like lambskin or deerskin typically soften faster than rigid leathers like cowhide. Regular wear and conditioning make a leather jacket noticeably softer in 1 to 3 months. For thicker, stiffer leathers, the break-in period can take 6 months to over a year. Patience and consistent care will yield the best results.

Will a leather jacket soften on its own?

While a leather jacket will soften slightly with regular use, conditioning treatments help accelerate and improve softening. Leather conditioners penetrate the leather fibers to moisturize and soften the material from within. They also protect the jacket from environmental damage that can cause stiffening. For the best results, condition a new leather jacket once a month during the break-in period after the jacket has reached your desired softness, 2-4 times a year to maintain.

Can you over-condition a leather jacket?

It is possible to over-condition a leather jacket, especially with frequent or heavy applications during the initial break-in period. While conditioning is essential for softening leather, too much can make the leather feel greasy or spongy and clog its pores.

Generally, do not wear a leather jacket more than once a week. For most leathers, conditioning once a month is typically sufficient. Be sure to wipe away any excess conditioner with a clean cloth after application and allow the jacket to dry completely.


You now have the tools to soften that stiff new leather motorcycle jacket and make it as supple and comfortable as your favorite old one. You can massage with patience and elbow grease in conditioners to soften the leather. Hang your jacket to dry properly after treating it.

Repeat the process as needed until you've achieved your desired level of softness and suppleness. Your jacket will soon conform to your shape and move with you quickly. With the proper care, your leather jacket will only improve with age. Follow these simple steps, and you'll be cruising the open road comfortably.