Usually, people aren’t keen on riding a motorcycle in foul or cold weather due to the lack of a cabin-like enclosure that would otherwise protect you from the cold wind, rain, or snow as it does in a car. The reality of the situation, however, is that with the right garment and gear, you can protect yourself from weather exposure and ride your motorcycle very comfortably.
How to Dress for Cold Weather Motorcycle Riding?
When you’re dressing to ride a motorcycle in cold weather, there are two effects that you need to achieve. The first is building up some amount of heat with the clothing you will be wearing and then keeping the moisture and wind sealed out to retain heat. There are two ways you can do this; by opting for the simple yet efficient three-level layering system or by wearing heated motorcycle gear.
Top Layer (Outer Shell)
Combating cold temperatures isn’t just a matter of keeping your comfort level high but also because if not fought against cold temperature, riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, especially for your health and safety. Cold temperature greatly slows your reaction time, and you also fatigue quicker than you would otherwise. Both of these situations aren’t safe when you’re riding a motorcycle.
When riding a motorcycle, you need to be alert and comfortable. The wind chill while riding is quite concerning because the cold is intensified when the chilly air keeps rushing against your body, creating convection current and taking body heat away.
The outermost layer will most effectively combat this wind chill problem, which is why it is important to choose clothing that is windproof. It is important to choose an outer jacket that is appropriately sized, which means it should cover your torso, neck, and full arms so that no frigid air can disturb the warmth.
The idea behind having a mid-layer is to retain as much heat as you possibly can to create warmth. Usually, mid-layer clothing is made of softer but thicker materials than base layer clothing such as polyester wool, fleece, merino wool, etc. Merino wool is an exceptional fabric for mid-layer gear as it has moisture-wicking properties, works as an excellent insulator, and tends to have antimicrobial properties.
Mid-layers can be of two types:
A softshell jacket is made from woven material. A fleece jacket doesn’t offer as much moisture-resistance as one would like, whereas a waterproof jacket isn’t as flexible. However, a softshell jacket provides the best of both worlds. It works as an excellent insulating middle layer for most outdoor gear since it is stretchable and breathable.
This might be a tricky one to pronounce, and it’s not to be confused with the sweet baklava. Even though not everyone would like wearing one, a balaclava provides a great way to retain heat and seal the cold air outside. It is worn under the helmet and covers pretty much your whole face, neck, and ears, and prevents cold air from going to the torso. Just make sure it fits you well and sits smoothly under your helmet before you purchase one.
The base layer is perhaps the most important one for all motorcyclists riding in cold temperatures, and it is also known as the second skin as it is supposed to fit snugly on the skin. It serves the vital function of recycling and retaining the heat so one can remain warm. The base layer is usually moisture-wicking and is usually made from a breathable fabric. They are supposed to be flexible and comfortable enough to be easy to move in.
For the base layer, traditional fabric and thermals work just fine in keeping the wearer warm; however, there are now synthetic material base layer clothing that helps enhance performance while remaining comfortable to wear. Do not wear clothing made from fabrics such as cotton, which tends to retain moisture; instead, make sure the clothing you chose wicks the perspiration away to keep your body warm and dry.
There are countless options for quality base layers, such as the Alpinestars ride tech winter pants, fly base layer heavy top, Alpinestars ride tech winter top, etc.
Types of Heated Gear
The following are some of the different types of heated gear you can get your hands on:
When the body gets cold, it constricts blood vessels to prevent heat loss from the limbs and prioritizes the essential organs: heart, lungs, and brain. So, the blood flow to your limbs is limited. The best way to counter this is by using a jacket liner. This retains heat from your core so that it can be evenly distributed to the rest of your body, including the limbs. Look for liners that are washable and strategically placed on the jacket to retain heat. They can be kind of pricey, but they tend to be worth the splurge if you plan to ride in low temperatures.
Heated Pant Liner
If you plan to ride in low temperatures, they should definitely consider investing in heated pant liners. These are usually made of spandex and are worn directly under your riding pants. They are designed to be form-fitting, so they not only act as a good insulator and keep warmth across your knee, thighs, and legs, but they also maintain the range of movement. It’s important to have a pant liner made of moisture-wicking material; otherwise, it will not retain warmth and might also be the reason for bacterial growth due to the availability of moisture.
As we’ve already mentioned, the body’s natural reflex is to restrict blood flow to the limbs and direct most of the warmth to the essential organs. This is our body in its survival mode. However, what does it mean for one to have cold limbs with limited blood flow? How does it affect you?
Your hands manage the operation of the bike, which means their proper functioning is important for braking, throttling, and clutch – basically for riding the bike. A cold or frozen hand will not be responsive enough to manage the bike, which can be quite a dangerous situation to be in.
There are times when you might need to make quick turns or suddenly hit the brake, for which you need to remain alert, and your hands need to be responsive. Therefore, it is important that you wear heated gloves to keep your hand warm while riding. Some heated gloves come with multiple settings, so you can choose one according to your comfort.
It’s important to protect your head from the cold air as well. Your helmet is essentially protecting against the chilly wind, but if you feel like it’s not providing enough warmth, it is best to opt for a helmet liner. They are pretty inexpensive, but they do wonders to provide you with the comfort you’re looking for. Make sure you invest in headliners that can wick off moisture, are fast drying, and are made of breathable material.
Heated Inner Sole
Getting cold feet (literally) can be a pretty uncomfortable feeling and people often underestimate it. They think opting for good boots will save their feet from feeling cold entirely, which is far from the truth. If you stay in the cold long enough, the material of the boot itself will start getting cold, and it’s just a matter of time till it reaches your feet.
Therefore, where you’re keeping the rest of your body warm, it’s important to pay attention to the feet as well. Heated inner soles are the perfect way to keep your feet warm as they have heating elements placed throughout their construction which will provide warmth to your entire foot.
Heated Over Socks
Heated over socks are great for providing heat to your whole foot and not just the sole. They are designed to evenly distribute the heat and keep your feet warm as you ride a motorcycle in low temperatures. This can be quite helpful in maintaining the body temperature as your limbs are the quickest to get cold at low temperatures due to restricted blood flow, and cold feet can be quite uncomfortable.
Heated Grips & Hand & Arm Warmers
What if you accidentally forgot your gloves at home because you were in a hurry? It can be pretty excruciating being on a long and cold ride without having something to warm your hands. This is where heated grips or hand warmers come into the picture.
Usually, bikes come with grips, but if yours didn’t, it’s fine; they can be purchased afterward from the market. Just make sure you invest in one which is compatible with your bike’s electrical system, so it doesn’t cause any trouble. Grip warmers do an excellent job in keeping your hands and fingers warm so that you can manage the bike well.
Seat Warmer Pad
If your bike didn’t come with a seat warmer, you can buy it from the market. It’s important to check the dimensions of your bike and research the seat warmer you will be investing in well enough so that it can work for your bike’s seat. Most motorcycle heating pads tend to be specific to the model or year of the vehicle, but there are some universal options available as well in the market. Invest in a unit that is thin and comfortable for you to sit on yet gets the job done.
Cold weather gear is incredibly important for motorcycle riders when they’re traveling in cold temperatures; you can’t just throw on anything and think it will protect you from the low temperature, wind, and snow. A cold kit is harder to put together than you think, as you have to find clothing that will provide insulation, be comfortable to wear, and, at the same time, doesn’t restrict your range of movement and dexterity. This is particularly why we put together this ultimate guide of cold weather motorcycle gear to help you understand better what to wear. Hopefully, you now know what you need!