Riding a motorcycle in cold conditions requires you to stay warm and learn how to handle the added risks. Be ready for mechanical failure, inclement weather, and navigational errors, to name just a few of the things that can complicate a motorcycle trip this season.
Extra base layers are a good start, but we suggest that you utilize these insights to help you prepare for your cold motorcycle rides.
Hands and Feet
Your fingers freeze first. In the spring and summer when temperatures are warmer, your body pushes blood to the surface, increasing heat loss. When it’s cold, however, your body constricts the same blood vessels. Keeping your extremities warm is essential. An inability to operate a clutch lever and other controls can spell disaster on a motorcycle.
Loss of warmth is accelerated parallel to the speed at which you’re traveling. And when that happens, small tasks become mountains to climb. Heated grips are a nice option , but if you don’t have that luxury, then windstop material and insulation are your best bet. Look for gloves that offer an inside and outside cuff that keeps cold and wet from finding their way up your sleeve. For your feet, tall wool socks boots will keep the cold out for a while.
Waterproof materials are essential. Keeping yourself warm and dry also applies to how you carry everything you’re not wearing. Roll-top dry bags make sure all your accoutrements stay dry.
Multiple bags (one inside the other) can work wonders as added defense against the elements. Separation is crucial when things do become wet. A lot of the modern motorcycle bags include waterproof liners that you roll and then stow inside another sack. With so many companies making near-watertight, heavy-duty vinyl bags with fully sealed radio-frequency welded seams, it’s easy to avoid wet gear.
Layers, heated gear (if available), wind management to reduce the rapid rate of heat loss, and small goals (more frequent stops to warm up) are the keys to keeping relatively warm throughout a winter ride. Snacking and hydration are also crucial to keeping yourself from getting too cold. A full belly means your metabolism is hard at work, which increases blood flow and subsequently overall core body temperature. Additionally, dehydration causes an accumulation of cells to support a system that’s starving for fuel. Drink room-temperature water to allow your body to process the H2O faster.
Being mentally prepared for the cold is almost as important as your physical ability to withstand it. If you turn miles into milestones, it’s often easier to get from A to B when the temperatures dip near freezing.
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