Most motorcyclists hibernate in the winter. While it’s hard to blame them, they don’t know what they’re missing. Enjoying the winter wonderland near you is only a matter of learning how to layer your street motorcycle riding gear. The right combination of clothes keeps you warm while still allowing freedom of movement. Here are the basics to layering your clothing:
Heat radiates out from your body, so staying warm is about reflecting your own heat back. This starts with base layers right against your skin. The farther the heat has to travel, the more warmth you lose. That’s why there should be no space between you and your first layer. Base layers are thin because they’re designed to fit under other clothes without hampering movement. Thermal undershirts and leggings from brands such as SIXS and REV’IT trap your body heat before it can escape.
As strange as it may sound, you want to plan your outer layer next. A warm pair of pants and a jacket on top of a good base layer may mean you don’t need any mid layers. This is dependent on the environment in which you ride. Regardless of how many layers you choose, your jacket needs to be windproof and probably waterproof. Find one with full-length sleeves and closures at the waist, cuffs, and collar. Any space in those three areas turns your jacket into a freezing wind tunnel.
Think of the mid layers as the meat in the sandwich. Base layers keep the heat in while outer layers keep the wind out. In the middle, a fleece shirt or jacket can provide extra reinforcement for your thermal undershirt. Most riders don’t wear mid layers on their legs because they find pants and leggings warm enough. If it’s frigid outside and you have enough room, you can always put on an extra pair of pants.
Too many bikers put on new, warm clothes only to forget they’re still using the same drafty head protection. Most motorcycle helmets are designed with airflow in mind. This is fine in the summer, but it leaves winter riders out of luck. Getting a second helmet with a warmer setup is your best bet. If that’s not in the budget, masks and balaclavas can act like a sweater for your head.
Gloves and Boots
Thick, lined gloves are the best way to keep your hands from becoming icicles. If you like your warm-weather gloves, you can always see if there’s a liner that works with them. This keeps you comfortable at a fraction of the cost of a new set of gloves. Waterproof boots paired with warm socks are generally all the protection your feet need.
Armored with knowledge and the right gear, you can enjoy riding year round. Shop riding apparel that has waterproof and windproof labels in the descriptions. If shopping online, use a cold weather search tag to narrow your hunt down to winter motorcycle clothing. As long as you match the right jackets with warm motorcycle sweatshirts, you can keep the cold at bay.