Winter riding!

The nights are drawing in, the central heating is being turned on and the jumpers and coming out, which can only mean one thing: winter is here again.  Riding in winter can be very uncomfortable but not if you have the correct gear.  Here we have identified the most vital pieces of kit to keep you warm and cosy on those cold winter rides so you can enjoy riding in winter as much as you do in the summer…

Base Layers

It sounds obvious, but a good base layer is the key to staying warmer longer. The layer must remove moisture that your body produces away from your skin, so an extra t short and long sleeve top simply will not do. Wool and other natural fabrics might do an alright job but the best performance will come from synthetic materials like polyester, rayon, lycra and such. Blends of these materials tend to be the best though it is important not to buy a blend that has been designed for active sports like football and soccer as they are designed to literally suck moisture from your skin so sitting on a motorcycle all day would lead to a lot of itching.  Base layers can also make getting in and out of your leathers easier because of their low friction design.  A close fitting base layer can also help prevent grazing injuries.

EDZ, Proskins, Rukka and Infinity all do a good range of base layers.  Whether you choose a top, trousers, or one piece is down to personal preference and may be down to what leathers you have or the duration of your journey.

Socks

Again, as with base layers, the main purpose of your socks is to draw moisture away from your body.  Any socks that contain cotton will not do this and so will not keep your feet as warm as they could be.  Some of the best results point to a new type of blend that uses ceramic and wood fibre woven into a polyester synthetic, known as Ceramic Winter Sokz.  They insulate and draw moisture better than many other products and are not bulky, which means an airspace forms in your boot providing extra insulation.

Jacket Liner

Depending on your jacket, you may want to consider adding a jacket liner to trap and retain heat.  Most jacket liners that come with shelf brands like Teknic, First Gear and others will perform fine when temperatures are in the 60s or higher, but when riding in temperatures below 60 you will need a more capable garment in trapping and retaining heat. Try Outdoor Research’s Neoplume Jacket which is a thin lightweight mid-layer made with Primaloft. This piece of kit is excellent at storing heat at the core.

Jackets and trousers

When riding in the cold, textile gear is preferred as it gives more space-wise, thereby allowing you room for a good mid-layer inside. Textile gear with zip-out liners mean you can adjust to whatever weather condition you’re in thereby allowing much more flexibility and more comfortable rides all year round.  If you are looking for waterproof gear, do not just take manufacturers claims that their gear cuts the mustard.  Low cost gear is not likely to be waterproof so shop around and go for a reliable brand such as First Gear.

Rain gear

If the conditions are really cold, rain gear will add an additional layer and also help to retain your body heat for longer. Just as with your jacket and trousers, you will get what you pay for.

Balaclava

If you have ridden in the cold without a balaclava, you will know that your head, in particular your forehead, can get very cold to the point that it becomes uncomfortable.  A balaclava will help to both keep the cold out whilst keeping your head and neck warmer as you ride.  If you ride with an open face half shell helmet you should seriously consider finding a balaclava with Gore’s Wind Stopper in the fabric. A full face helmet means you may not need the balaclava stretched up over your head in which case you may prefer a neck gator.  Balaclavas and neck gators utilizing Wind Pro are made by Outdoor Research.

Glove liners

When it gets really cold, riding into the air can really become uncomfortable.  To address this, it can really pay to add a set of quality glove liners to your kit. Liners made with Capilene, Polartec or Lurex should be looked for. Some gloves liners even have a pocket where you can slip in a heat pack to add to the warmth and comfort.  Tour Master makes a good glove liner that incorporates Polortec.

Gloves

When it comes to winter gloves there are a lot of items to choose from.  It goes without saying that the better made they are, the longer your hands will stay warm. In temperatures that are over 50 degrees most peoples’ hands will stay warm for the duration of a ride, though once temperatures start to drop into the 40s, no gloves on the market will retain heat longer than an hour or so. This is because your fingers are the least able of any other part of your body to retain heat when it comes to motorcycling. You therefore have two choices: Either plan to stop every hour or so to warm up or get some…

Heated grips

Heated grips are best used to compliment heated gloves as they will only keep your palms warm. Heated gloves are not usually lined on the inside of the palm and so the grips are a nice addition. When selecting heated grips, make sure that the thermostat supplied with them is waterproof as some are not.

Who said you can’t ride in the cold!

 

 

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