How do I measure the size of a motorcycle suit, jacket or pants that I have?
(related link: How Do I Measure MYSELF For a Motorcycle Jacket, Pants or Suit?)
Key Measurements of a Jacket or Suit
Getting a MAX chest and MAX belly measurement from a jacket or suit are the two key measurements you can take. These two key measurements will help you to choose a size of new gear if you have some old favorites in your closet. You’ll want to be sure and only consider the sizing of old gear for this purpose if it is generally the same style of gear that you want to buy new. For example, don’t compare the chest and belly of an old bomber style jacket when trying to buy a new sport jacket. Knowing how to measure a jacket might also help you troubleshoot a fit issue for gear you may have bought that doesn’t fit as you expected.
1) Lay a jacket or suit flat on a table, front side up, with the main zipper fully closed.
2) Smooth the torso of the jacket and flatten as wide as possible on the table. You can pinch the edges of the torso, just under the arms, and pull the material wide to make sure there are no hidden wrinkles in back.
3) Flip the arms up and out of your way so you can measure easily across the chest from one arm pit to the other.
4) Start by measuring slightly under the armpit at the widest part of the torso. Begin your measurement just a tad inside the outside edge. The idea is to guesstimate an “inside to inside” measurement to account for the thickness of the shell material and perhaps a thermal liner. So how much do you burn? Well, for a sport jacket that is meant to fit snug, about 1/2” per side will be about right. For not-so-tight fitting ordinary street jackets, about 3/4” per side is good. For bombers, and very loose fitting gear, it becomes more of a guess.
5) The length across the chest after you “burn an inch” or so, is one half the MAX chest size, so take whatever you get and double it. EXAMPLE: You have a sport leather jacket and you measure 22” across the chest with about 1/2” inch on either side to spare (total length outside to outside is 23”) which means you have a jacket that fits like a 44 MAX chest, aka, typical men’s large.
1) To get a MAX belly measurement, you’ll be measuring in a similar fashion across the lower torso approximately where your belly button would be. On a sport jacket that is very near the bottom edge. On a touring style, it would be about 2/3 of the way down the torso.
2) Begin by smoothing the fabric as wide and flat as possible. Be sure to loosen any adjustment straps to their largest or “neutral” position.
3) Measure straight across and “burn” a bit on either side as described with the chest measurement.
4) Double the result and that is the approximate MAX Belly of the jacket.
Drop: The “drop” of a jacket is the size difference between the MAX chest and MAX belly. An average jacket has a “drop” of about 4” from chest to belly. A touring style jacket might only taper about 2”, and an aggressive sport leather jacket could drop as much as 8”. EXAMPLE: For our example jacket that measured a 44 MAX chest, assuming it is an average street/sport jacket of some kind, you’d expect a MAX belly result of about 42”.
Race suits are measured in a similar way. Rarely would you burn more than 1/2” to get a chest or belly measurement since suits are cut to fit very snug. And if the suit has expansion panels along your path of measurement, or for example behind the shoulders, you may have to lightly stretch the suit’s chest area to get a good guesstimate of size.
Key Measurements of Pants
Key measurements of men’s pants is the waist and inseam. For women, add hips and possibly thighs to the mix. Unfortunately measuring hips/thighs isn’t so easy off the body, so I’ll have to skip that part.
1) Lay the pants flat on a table with the waist closed (snaps, Velcro, button, whatever), and zip up the fly. Also loosen any side waist adjustment devices to their fully open/neutral position.
2) smooth the waist band flat and thoroughly stretch to the widest position. If you are working with a material that won’t lay flat you may need an extra pair of hands to help keep the waist wide open and flat.
3) measure across the waistband “inside to inside”. if the waist has expansion panels or other stretchy aspects to it, you’ll just have to put an amount of tension on them that would simulate a comfortable fit to get a reasonable measurement.
4) Take your reading and double it and that is your waist measurement. EXAMPLE: you measure 18” across a pant waistband “inside to inside”. That means those pants have a 36” waist.
Is it larger than you expected? Or larger than the size tag says? That means you have “vanity” sized pants. Doesn’t that make you feel better… uh, I mean before you knew what they actually measured that is.
Measuring the inseam of your favorite pants is a good way to know what size inseam to look for in new pants.
1) Grab the leg of a pant at the crotch seam, which is below the fly where the four seams of most pants some together. Sometimes the seams of a pant don’t come together in one place but rather have a small panel in the crotch to give some breathing room. In those cases pick a spot that you’d guess would be “ground zero” if the pants were constructed normally.
2) Follow one or the other of the inside seams to the cuff of the leg. Grab both ends and stretch the inside seam snug and lay flat on a table to measure. Like the waist, if the material won’t stay flat, get some help to hold it flat and straight.
3) Measure from the crotch seam to the end of the leg and you’ve got your official inseam measurement.
Beware of Vanilla Ice pants, sweat pants, saggin’ jeans, etc as the standard inseam measurement means nothing. (Well, nothing as it relates to proper motorcycle apparel).
Measuring sport pants or the inseam of a suit is a bit trickier since the pants may be loaded with armor and pre-curved. You can still measure by holding the leg seam as straight as possible and measure along the seam following the slight bend at the knee. The inseam in that type pant has to be considered differently than regular pants since those pants aren’t designed to reach as far down your leg as jeans. For most sizes, the inseam of sport pants or a suit will be right around 30” give or take an inch over an entire size range of a product. And nearly half the inseam distance will be from crotch to center of the knee cap, with the other half of the distance from knee cap to the end of the leg, which typically ends around the top of the foot or ankle bone.