When you concentrate on the basics, everything else falls into place. The Joe Rocket Dakota offers a simple design that embodies the essence of a leather motorcycle jacket.
Joe Rocket starts the Dakota jacket off with cowhide ranging from 1.0 to 1.2mm thick. It’s highly pliable, so zero break-in is required. Featuring a relaxed fit that might not appeal to skinny hipsters, it’s comfortable right off the rack. Don’t worry—it’s a true-to-size cut. I wear Large, and Large worked for me.
It’s a bit roomy, which is done to compensate for the lack of flex panels. This is a jacket for the rider whose sense of style demands leather, and only leather. When riding with the long-sleeve quilted liner, the fit was appealingly snug, which is what you want for winter—keep it loose for the summer rides. Oh, there is a leather strap and snap on each side of the waist to fine-tune the fit. Joe Rocket added unobtrusive embroidered “ROCKET” logos on the right chest and just below the neck in the back—good, not gaudy.
The styling is traditional, with racing stripes on each side from the collar to your upper bicep. At the end of the racing stripes are nicely camouflaged reflective strips for night-riding safety. They look completely black in daylight, and only cars will see their magic. It’s a welcome safety device that doesn’t make you look like a highway construction worker.
Once on, you’ll have no problem storing your essentials on the Joe Rocket Dakota jacket. On the exterior, there are the two expected zippered hand pockets. The high-quality YKK zippers have appealing and convenient leather pulls, and the zipper is hidden behind a leather flap—classy. There’s a bonus left chest pocket that also zips open and closed. Your smartphone won’t fit in the pocket, but your wallet will, if that’s where you’d like to carry it. It might make a good pocket for toll fees.
Inside, you get a zippered Napoleon pocket, which is my preferred smartphone storage spot. There are also the two large square pockets inside with centered hook-and-loop closures. If you fill up all these pockets, you’re carrying too much stuff.
Your wrists and neck get snap closures, with a zipper for each wrist. That’s pretty much the only airflow management there is for the Joe Rocket Dakota jacket. It’s not perforated, and there are no vents—intake or exhaust. The snaps secure with a satisfying click, and are adorned with a tasteful R logo—nice touch.
The main zipper is also a heavy-duty YKK product, and it is easily manipulated thanks to a leather pull. At the top, the light-padded leather collar is completely comfortable.
The Dakota’s leather offers abrasion protection, should things go wrong, and that’s it. If you want shoulder and elbow impact protection, which I do, you’re on your own. Joe Rocket doesn’t seem to be offering its CE elbow and shoulder armor any longer, which could be had for $25 a pair. I had some sets lying around and installed them in the liner pockets, upping the price by $50. I also installed the ultra-flexible D3O Viper CE Level 1 back protector, which can be had for around $40. Ultimate Motorcycling strongly recommends CE-rated back protection. None of the armor compromised the jacket’s appearance—it’s installed in all of the photos.
The Joe Rocket Dakota jacket is for the motorcycle rider who wants a basic leather jacket with timeless style. It’s a jacket you won’t feel odd wearing off the bike, and you definitely look cool on two wheels.
Photography by Kelly Callan
Joe Rocket Dakota Jacket Fast Facts
- Sizes: SM – 3XL
- Color: Black
Joe Rocket Dakota Jacket Price: $325 MSRP ($415 as tested)