I don’t care how much everybody is talking about Global Warming, cold is cold, and when you are riding in the winter, it feels even colder. Wind chill can be terrible, compound the factor of speed where the faster you ride the more the temperature falls. Using the following tips, you will be able to survive the winter on your motorcycle.
Many of you silly people like cold weather, I will never understand that. Maybe it is because I’m a skinny man and I do not have much fat to hold in the heat. I live down South for a reason, but even in the dirty dirty it gets cold now and again. When the mercury goes down and the wind picks up I’m layering every article of heavy clothing I can wear at once. If I look like the little brother from a Christmas Story when I’m done, so be it.
Hands, are the first line of defense, and Winter gloves are usually a good idea, something with Gore-Tex or Thinsulate is a plus. Just about every major motorcycle apparel manufacturer sells a winter glove, and many can be found for under $80 with different degrees of protection and insulation from the elements. But aside from running out and buying a name brand glove, there are some other steps you can take before you shell out some dough on specialty gloves.
Take a run down to either the local grocer, hardware, or auto parts store and buy a box of disposable rubber gloves. These are great for retaining your natural body heat. And since they are form fitting, you can wear them inside your riding gloves as additional insulation. Some people may have a problem with latex, in which case sporting goods stores and outdoor outlets carry glove liners made of various materials.
Even if you wear full gauntlet gloves, while in the riding position, and when you are moving around, your sleeves can slide up and let in the wind. Try a pair of wristbands, a great cheap trick for keeping the wind out of your sleeves.
Thick shirts are a must, but too much at once cannot only be uncomfortable, but can limit movement. Thermal shirts are definitely a plus, in addition to a sweater and lined jacket. Try one of those cool max shirts as a base layer. Anything that can wick away moisture from your body will keep you that much warmer. If your jacket lets any wind through in any spots try and pin point them from the inside. The fix for this is simple… duct tape. Patch up the problems on the inside so the wind won’t make its way through. A thin nylon windbreaker underneath the jacket or even your rain jacket over top can be a great addition.
Your head and face are extremely sensitive. Good full-face lids with closable vents are definitely the way to go. If you’re in an area that sees a lot of snow and super low temperatures, you may want to look into snowmobile helmets for the winter. The ones that have heated visors would be a great choice. Of course, one of the most common ways to help keep your head warm, is wearing a beanie under your lid. If that is too thick for a comfy fit, try the sporting goods and ski shops for balaclava’s. The ones made of nylon are usually really thin. There’s always the old-fashioned bandana as well. This will at least keep the wind off your face, and your breath will keep your face warm. Keep breath mints handy though.
One more simple trick for limiting fog and retaining heat. If your helmet does not include a breath deflector, you can construct one out of duct tape. Double up the tape and bend it to fit your face. Then, tape it right to the inside of the chin bar. Just be sure you do not leave any adhesive exposed, unless you want your face waxed while riding down the street.
Your feet and knees are always in the breeze. Ski socks are a major plus. The longer they are, the better too. Insulated boots are really the smart way to go, the less wind that can get in the better. A great piece of gear I found is motocross knee and shin guards, these are similar to hockey shin guards with plastic caps, foam padding and fabric liners. The great thing about them, is that they are thin enough to wear under loose fitting pants. The plastic blocks the wind very well while the foam helps to trap in the heat. These are fairly inexpensive too, they can be purchased for under $40. For the rest of your lower extremities, double up on pants. Sweat pants, Track pants, thermals, etc.
Of course there is always the option of using heated riding gear. This can be expensive, but if you are going to ride in very cold climates, it is most likely a smart investment. The cheaper solution is using hand warmer packs. They’re fairly cheap and some last up to 8 hours. If you are going to do some long-distance riding, I would suggest getting some. You can position them in your shoes to keep your feet warm, in your gloves to help out your hands and any place else you feel it would help.