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It can be difficult to stay warm while riding a motorcycle. There’s nothing surrounding you that protects you from the wind, rain, snow, and other elements that can make the riding experience a bit chilly.
I’ve lived in some extremely cold climates and had to figure out how to ride comfortably during the harsh winters. It is essential to stay warm when riding a motorcycle in these conditions. Here is a list of helpful tips and tricks that can turn a cold ride into an experience that’s much more enjoyable.
You should wear the right material
The key to staying warm on a motorcycle is wearing the right materials and the right amount. It’s a given you’ll need to wear a coat when it’s cold outside and you’re planning on going for a ride.
Let’s first discuss covering your body’s core such as your back, shoulders, and torso. While a winter coat can cover these parts, wearing one in winter is completely different than wearing one on a bike.
While riding a motorcycle, you’re adding an extra element to the equation: high wind speeds. This can make it seem colder than it actually is outside. That’s why wearing several layers of clothing is important. It is better to have too many layers than not enough when it comes down to riding in the coldYou don’t need to take off any layers to adjust.
The different layers you wear, especially the layer you’re wearing directly against your skin, should be fitted to your body but not so extremely tight that it cuts off circulation when you’re sitting in your riding position for a few hours.
You should first wear thermal underwear, long, or short underwear. “long johns” As they are called by others. These should not be made from cotton but from a polypropylene fabric. Cotton absorbs sweat, which can make the draft cooler.
Over the long underwear, you’ll wear your regular clothes. Again, avoid using anything that’s made out of cotton so you don’t have to worry about your clothes absorbing water. Wear synthetic clothing. Synthetic material has small inter-molecular gaps, making it difficult for water through.
Wool is a good substitute if synthetic sweaters aren’t available. Water repellent is also an outer layer of wool. This is because it protects the sheep it comes from. Wool also changes according to your body temperature. This means wool will keep you warm when you’re cold and will keep you cool when you’re warm.
Your third layer should be wind and water resistant. You can also add layers below if you feel that you require more warmth.
You should also ensure that zippers have covers and are insulated. Water and wind can easily get through zippers. Also make sure that any openings of the third layer (such as around the wrists, waist, and neck) have some sort of band that can be tightened so there’s no chance for wind to get in there.
Keep Your Face Warm
Many motorcycle riders are so focused on covering every part of their body before they go for a cold ride, that they forget to cover their faces. And by the time they realize they forget their face, it’s too late.
If you intend to ride your bike in the cold, make sure you take good care of your head. It can lead to severe discomfort and headaches.
First and foremost, always ride with a full face helmet if you’re going to ride in the cold. It will keep out a lot of the freezing water and cold wind that might be splashed on you. It’ll also protect your ears which are especially susceptible to frostbite because of how thin they are.
A turtleneck sweater, scarf or scarf will keep your neck warm while also keeping cold air out of your helmet. You can also keep your ears warm with thin headband earmuffs.
To keep your head warm while riding a motorcycle, you can also use a balaclava. Like these ones found on Motosport.com, it’s a fitted covering that goes over your head and only exposes your eyes. They are great for breathing and can be used under helmets.
How to Keep Your Hands and Shoulders Warm
Your core is the most important part to keep warm. This is because it houses some of the most important organs. But appendages are often the parts of the body that lose body heat the quickest since it’s the body’s defense mechanism to ensure your core is warm.
Your hands will be the first part of your body that will become cold if you don’t take the right measures to keep them warm during a ride. They’re the ones sticking out the furthest and are at the front of the motorcycle where the worst of the wind will be. Cold hands can also refer to stiff hands, which can be dangerous if you have to apply the brakes rapidly.
Wear waterproof gloves and windproof gloves. But just wearing gloves sometimes isn’t enough. Try adding hand warmers to your gloves, such as those you need to shake to activate.
You might also consider heated gloves. You can keep your hands warm while riding on a cold motorcycle with any of the Motosport.com heated gloves. They’re either battery powered or rechargeable and water proof. They’re also easy to use and don’t restrain your hands while trying to control your motorcycle.
Another option is to use handle shields. Attachable to your handlebars, hand shields can be attached to your motorcycle. These shields block wind and water from hitting your hands, which can cause them to become brittle.
Keep your legs warm
When preparing for winter rides, legs are often overlooked or ignored. But cold legs mean numb and stiff legs which is extremely dangerous; you don’t want any delay when you need to put your leg out to balance yourself.
If you heed to the long underwear advice given earlier in this article, you’ll already have the first layer of clothing covered when it comes to keeping your legs warm on a motorcycle ride. The same three layers will be required for legs as previously mentioned.
Refrain from using cotton products. if there’s going to be any water involved, your legs and feet will get the brunt of it. Wear waterproof clothing, including synthetic materials and wool, within your three layers.
A nifty little trick I’ve learned that have kept my calves warm is using a heated calf wrap like this one found on Amazon.com. These aren’t electrically powered, but if you put them in the microwave for a few minutes right before your ride, your legs will be set nicely for the next hour or two. These are pretty thin, but you’ll still need to make sure your pants are loose enough to fit them underneath your third layer.
Make sure the bottom of your pants have some sort of band that can snugly wrap around your ankles so wind or moisture doesn’t find it’s way in and up your legs. Check out my article here for more information about keeping your legs and feet warm when riding a motorcycle.
How to Keep Feet Warm
If it gets cold enough, frostbite can also affect the feet. And since your feet are the closest to the road, they’re more likely to get any water on them if it’s raining or snowing.
You don’t need to do several layers to keep your feet warm, but the layers you do have need to be the right kind. I have found that wearing wool socks are the best way to keep my feet nice and toasty inside my boots when I’m out for a motorcycle ride in the cold.
You’ll also need to make sure your boots cover your ankles and are waterproof. Keeping water out is essential when it comes to keeping your feet warm on a motorcycle, so don’t go cheap on the boots. If you decide to wear more than one pair of socks, make sure you aren’t wearing so many that it makes everything tight for your feet. To keep your feet warm, circulation is still important.
To keep the water from getting into your feet, many people suggest putting plastic on top of your feet. This practice seems unsafe because it’ll make your feet slippery on the clutch pedal and foot pegs and the plastic can easily get stuck on something and prevent you from being able to balance yourself.
5 Bonus Tips
As promised, here are some additional tips that’ll not only help you stay warm on a motorcycle, but also help you stay a little safer while riding in these conditions.
I have mentioned that wearing a full-face helmet in cold weather will allow your head to stay warm. However, it is possible to get condensation from wearing a helmet when you are in colder weather. Condensation can block your view and create a dangerous situation.
Use a defogging agent on the inside to counter condensation buildup. This will prevent any moisture or fog from building up and give you a clear view no matter how cold it gets.
Cold weather often means there’s some sort of water involved weather that be coming from the sky or from splashes from other cars. It’s so annoying having to constantly wipe away water that gets in the view of your helmet visor.
Rain-X can be applied to the outside of your visor. It repels water well. While water will still splash on the helmet, it will quickly disperse if this solution is used. You can now use both your hands to steer your motorcycle, and you don’t have to worry about getting anything on your helmet.
Though it’s completely doable to ride your motorcycle in the cold, there is a point where it may be too cold for you to be riding. Anything below 32°F or 0°C poses a lot more dangers for motorcyclists since this is the point when roads start to freeze. Consider rescheduling your trip if you know that any time during your ride you’ll be riding below freezing temperatures. See my other article here to learn more about knowing when it’s too cold to ride.
It can be difficult to start a motorcycle when it is cold. Machines, like humans, can be slow to respond when left out in cold temperatures for too long. You may need to park your motorcycle temporarily if you go out on a cold motorcycle ride. Try to place it so that it isn’t harmed by the cold.
This could mean parking it directly in the sun if it’s out, under some sort of covering, or placing a motorcycle cover over it while you’re gone. You will have a greater chance of starting your bike when you return.
There’s a lot of power in having a warm drink while you’re outside in the cold. It is a good idea to bring a thermos with hot liquid in it that you can use later, if possible. This will keep your interiors warm.
Before you ride
Here are some tips to help you prepare for riding on your motorcycle in winter. You don’t just need to be warm enough for a cold ride.
It can be painful to ride in the cold, and cause stiffness and numbness. As a way of keeping warm, our muscles can tense up to increase circulation and engage our muscles. It can be uncomfortable to do this for prolonged periods.
Before you go out on a cold-weather ride, do some basic and light exercises. You should do a few jumping-jacks and stretches as part of these exercises. This will increase circulation, and prevent sore muscles from the end of your ride.
Before going out in cold weather, make sure you eat a hearty, good-quality meal. The body uses calories and fat to protect itself against the cold. This can make you feel hungry quicker and more tired. This can be greatly helped by eating foods rich in carbohydrates and protein.
Remember to check the weather before you take off on any motorcycle ride. Even if it’s sunny outside, the temperatures can still be below freezing. Even though it’s sunny outside, snow and rain can sneak in quickly. You don’t want to be unprepared in these conditions.
If it gets too cold
If you ever plan to ride your motorcycle in the cold, you should be aware of some dangerous signs your body may be trying to tell you when it has reached it’s limits. Hypothermia will be your biggest worry. It should be avoided at all cost.
Hypothermia is when your body’s core temperature drops below 95deg F. Your body loses more heat than it can produce. A normal body temperature is around 98° F. Hypothermia begins to set in when your core body temperature gets below 95° F. That’s only a 3° F difference.
Wind is one way hypothermia occurs in the first place. It is constantly blowing heat away. And that’s exactly what’s happening on a motorcycle.
Your body will stop blood circulation to the area as a defense mechanism. “less important” You should focus on vital organs like your brain, heart, lungs and brain, rather than on other parts of your body. This results in your limbs having less circulation, increasing the risk of frostbite.
You may experience confusion, slurred speech or slurred breathing while riding your motorcycle in cold temperatures. You must immediately stop and locate a warm place to rest. Hypothermia can lead to serious injuries.
Is it possible to put snow chains on a motorbike? In an emergency, it is possible to attach snow chains to a motorcycle. In winter, however, it is strongly advised that motorcycles be kept off the roads unless absolutely necessary. As a last resort, motorcycle snow chains should only be used. You can read my other article for more details.