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10 Ways to Stay Warm On Your Motorcycle This Winter

There are enough sunny days throughout the winter months it’s worth getting out for a ride to make up for all those dreary days when you won’t care to ride. And even though a day in January may be sunny, it can be downright cold, so knowing what to wear and how to beat the chill will make your ride much more enjoyable. Times have changed from even 10 years ago. We know a lot more now about how to keep warm than ever before, technology is well ahead of a decade ago and learning the art of staying warm can provide some great riding times ahead.

So we’ve come up with our top 10 ways to stay warm. If you have one or two be sure to email them over to us.

  1. Get The Wind Out – You’ve heard the term ‘wind stopper,’ but just what does it mean? If the wind gets into your gear it will rob you of your precious body heat. Don’t let it happen. If your riding gear is allowing this to occur, replace it with better gear that won’t. We’ve seen a lot of leather and textile sport gear that has elastic points at the inner knee and on the arms. Great for spring and summer, lousy for cold days.
  2. Put On Your Rain Gear – One surefire way to keep the wind out is to don a good set of raingear. Rain gear works as a wind stopper and does wonders for maintaining your core temperature.
  3. Dump Your Cotton – Heard this one before? It’s my latest mantra and I’d tell you to do the same thing if it were summer too. Cotton gear can get down right uncomfortably cold if it gets wet or retains the slightest amount of your body’s moisture. Leave it at home. Cotton and motorcycle riding don’t mix well together. Dump your cotton socks, tee shirt, underwear, jeans and sweaters. The sooner the better.
  4. Get Some Synthetic Base Layers – Ahhh, so now that we’ve dumped the cotton the question is what to wear. The answer is to get some base layer clothing made of synthetics. Most base layer clothing you can buy at an outdoor store is made for outdoor athletic activities such as skiing, playing football or hiking. Brands like Under Armor were not designed for ‘leisure activities’ like sitting still on a motorcycle for long durations of time. We solved this issue when we came across the MSL Line. Click here to find out more and consider a pair for yourself.
  5. Get Some Real Winter Gloves – Spending $25 or $50 on a pair of supposed winter motorcycle gloves will not make you very happy in the end. You need a glove that can insulate with wind crossing over it at 60 mph. There are very few on the market that can do this for long. So far Outdoor Research's  Alpine Albi II winter glove seems to retain body warmth the longest, up to about an hour. If you need to retain heat longer consider using heated glove inserts (HeatPax) or investing in a set of electrically heated gloves. Grabber makes a line of heated inserts. The best electric gloves we’ve found yet are made by Gerbing’s Heated Clothing out of Tumwater, Washington.
  6. Glove Liners – Already have an expensive pair of winter gloves you don’t want to give up, but you’d like to shoot for a little more warmth? The issue with winter gloves is that unless they wick well, your hands will sweat in them and then get cold from being wet. Look for a pair of Thermolite glove liners that will wick the moisture away from your skin. We’ve seen them for sale at Seattle Cycle Center and other local dealers.
  7. Ceramic Lempur Socks – The goal with your feet is to keep them dry and allow some airspace for heat to collect. That's not always easy in a motorcycle boot. If you stuff the bott full with a wool sock, there won't be any airspace left for air to collect. We like ceramic synthetic socks made with lempur wood fiber. They provided long lasting warmth while wicking away any unwanted moisture.
  8. Keep Your Core Warm – The trick to keeping your body warm for a long period of time is to keep the core warm. You can do this by wearing a warm synthetic liner, donning a fleece vest or purchasing a heated vest or jacket. There are two types of heated vests on the market. The first is for the once-in-a-while rider who rides only several times a year on cold days. It’s called an air activated heating vest and utilizes carbon charcoal air-activated packets, also known as HeatPax, that create warmth for 16 to 20 hours. The packets are inserted into internal pockets in the vest and can be suspended when not in use by placing them into an air tight bag until they are needed again. The second choice is more for the rider who likes to ride on a regular basis throughout the cold months. For that we recommend an electric vest or jacket. Again my choice is the Gerbing version as it’s competing counterparts provide less surface dispersment of heat.
  9. Let’s Eat – Okay, so while we’re on the subject of keeping your core warm, what’s the most natural way to do it? By eating of course. Filling your tummy full of food turns on the digestive apparatus generating heat while it’s processing the food. If you’re cold on your ride it may be time to park and get a bite to eat.
  10. More Heat Packs Please – We’ve already talked about using Heat Packs in your gloves and inserting them into tyour jacket liner. Go one step further and get some for your feet to place at the toe points in your boots.

Here we’ve discussed ways to stay warm based on what you wear and what you eat. There are several other tricks too like heated grips and heated seats. But whatever tricks you use to stay warm on cold days it’s good to know you have the chutzpa to enjoy the ride and not dread a forty degree morning cruise!

Patrick Thomas/Winter 2006


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