Dress For Cold Weather Motorcycle Riding
Clothing that seems fine when you are driving your car or walking down the street in the rain probably won’t cut it at 70 miles an hour on your motorcycle. It takes the right gear to keep you warm under these extreme conditions. Buy gear designed for motorcycling. There is a difference. Women riders have had a tough time finding gear made for them at an affordable price until fairly recently. Happily, I and other vendors are offering affordable quality gear tailored for women.
- DRESS IN LAYERS
- COVER ALL SKIN
- BLOCK THE WIND
- STAY DRY
- KEEP YOUR HEAD WARM
- THE LAYERS
Insulating Layer: The insulating layer creates dead air space between the layers of clothing, trapping warm body air and keeping it around the body. Look for outerwear that is warm, water-resistant and well insulated with a synthetic fiber such as Thinsulate Insulation.
Outer Shell: This layer protects against wind and rain. This is probably the most important layer.
Outerwear Machine-washable jackets retain their waterproofing better than those that require dry-cleaning. Jackets with sealed seams also prevent water from getting in. If you wear a non-leather jacket get one designed for motorcycling. That stylish $300 jacket you bought at the department store probably won’t work as well as a $100 jacket you buy from me because it’s not designed for motorcycling. Leather is a great wind stopper. A well made leather jacket designed for motorcycling will last for years, keep you comfortable and protect you in a skid.
Look for outerwear containing Thinsulate and similar Insulation, it provides about 1 ½ times the warmth of down and nearly twice the warmth of other high-loft insulators when equal thicknesses are compared. Look for features such as cuffs that close tightly to keep out cold air and snow, zippers with large nylon teeth, and storm flaps over the zippers and double breasted chest openings to block wind and water. Cuffs, pockets and chest closures with multiple closure systems such as zippers and snaps or zippers ,velcro and snaps tend to stop more wind.
Zip out liners are very handy. You can remove your liner when it is warm in the afternoon, store it in your saddlebag and put it back in when the temperature dips.
Add leather or string ties to zippers etc so you can open and close them with your gloves on.
Your neck Nehru or Euro style collars on jackets tend to cover the neck better. A turtle neck sweater will help some. In really cold weather a balaclava or a leather riding mask will make a big difference. Remember to cover your neck! By the time you have traveled a half a mile in cold weather you will know if you forgot to cover that adam’s apple!
Legs Protect your legs from the wind. There are a variety of choices for protecting your legs. Chaps, Leather pants and Textile pants. I sell a variety of these items in various price ranges. All of my items are designed for motorcycling. Once again wear layers; thermal underwear and lined pants or chaps to block the wind. When it gets cold a pair of Levis and long johns won’t do it!
Footwear Wet feet become cold and numb quickly, keep your feet dry by wearing appropriate boots. When your feet become wet (through sweating or immersion) you need to put on dry, fresh socks. Insulated boots help. Wear socks made of synthetic fibers like polyester and polypropylene. Make sure your boots are loose enough to comfortably wear thick socks. Avoid steel toe boots. A pair of cold feet will ruin an otherwise great ride!
Headgear You loose most of your heat through your head and neck! Wear a full face helmet with face shield for optimum comfort. Leather masks cover the neck and lower face. Balaclavas cover the neck, face and insulate your head.
Gloves Waterproof gloves lined with synthetic insulation such as Thinsulate insulation are effective insulators, keep your hands covered at all times. The savvy rider has several pairs of gloves designed for various riding conditions: Fingerless gloves for warm summer riding. This cuts down on vibration, reduces calluses, and offers some protection in a skid. Zip Cuff Gauntlet gloves The next choice is usually flexible gloves with thin lining that offer wind protection and a gauntlet cuff to keep the wind from blowing up the jacket sleeves. I carry a pair all the time in my saddlebag along with a pair of cotton liners to add when it gets cold. They are handy even on cool summer nights. For really cold weather I wear a pair of thick gauntlet motorcycling/ski gloves with thick insulated lining. Gauntlet cuff gloves are very important. They fit over the jacket sleeve and keep ice-cold air from blowing up to your armpits at 70 miles an hour!
Cycling In The Cold
While lots of us quit using our bikes when it gets too cold for short sleeves and shorts, there is a large contingent of cyclists who revel in the opportunity to do winter biking. Whether it’s biking as transportation or biking as recreation, there’s a way to make it fun and survivable.
If you’ve never biked in seriously harsh weather, you can get good advice along with some of the required gear in Ithaca’s bike shops. They have clothes as well as winter tires and lights. And, of course, the web has a wealth of resources for recruits to “ice biking.”
You’ll find your own sources, but these are some favorites you may want to try:
Icebike – this is the oldest, most venerable group of cold-weather riders on the internet. Their website has been a bit less zealously updated in recent years, but still has tons of info and links to further info.
Studded Bike Tires — This is a page on the website of Peter White Cycles; Peter is a very methodically analytic person who gives lots of details you’d not get from a short visit to any shop.
A good list — suggestions for every vulnerable part of the body from Toronto, where it’s probably colder than Ithaca most winters.
Riding in the cold needn’t involve expensive specialized purchases. Space age insulators make it a lot simpler to prepare yourself, but there are locals who commuted for years using clothes from the Salvation Army augmented with plastic bags. You can’t be careless about it — hypothermia and frostbite are very real possibilities if you’re not prepared. But, on the other hand, you don’t need to take out a mortgage to go for a bike ride either.