Beat the British weather and enjoy riding your bike year round with our top tips for staying warm.
As the mercury begins to plummet your thoughts are probably turning to keeping warm on your motorcycle. As a rider, knowing how to stay warm in adverse weather conditions will not only improve your comfort, but your safety too – getting cold affects your concentration.
Fortunately modern motorcycle kit is designed to keep you riding whatever the weather brings.
The key is to keep your core warm, or so the theory goes (I'll expand on that later). If your core temperature drops, blood is diverted away from your extremities, leaving your hands prone to the cold. Layering is the key here. Thin lightweight layers work best. Think merino wool base layers, thermal underwear, and thin long sleeved tops, and you're on to a winner.
Another thing to consider is the wind chill factor. At 50mph in 5c temperatures the wind chill can reduce that to -11c. To stay warm, block the wind with a windproof top and buff. Oxford make a motorcycle specific windproof top, but I prefer a good lightweight weatherproof fleece. They are cheaper, and can be worn off the bike too. Try this one from Mountain Warehouse.
Sometimes it's just so cold that even the best layering techinques aren't going to keep you warm. The problem is that when riding a motorcycle, you're not actively moving around and generating heat, so the same tips that work for hikers, expeditionist, and mounting climbers just don't work. That's when you need heated clothing, like this Gerbing heated vest. On warmer days a heated vest or jacket will leave you feeling toasty (if not a little hot), on the coldest days it'll take the edge off and keep your core warm, and help your insulating layers work.
It goes without saying that keeping dry if crucial to your warmth. Always check the weather before your ride and carry a waterproof oversuit if your regular gear isn't waterproof. Invest in a good pair of waterproof boots and gloves (Gore Tex lined ones work great), and always ensure your jacket cuffs come over the gloves. When choosing waterproof gear you're maing a trade of between breability and staying dry. If you expect to be riding in the wet often then look for gear that has the waterproof membrane laminated to the outer layer. This will ensure that the jacket/trousers don't 'wet out' making them heavy and unconfortable.
The Spidi x-tour range, is a good example of this. The waterproof membrane is bonded to the outer layer, so while the jacket won't breath as well in the summer months, it will ensure you stay dry in the worst of the European winter.
Earlier I stated that keeping your core warm is the key staying warm, but in my experience that only works to a point. In colder weather I find that regardless of how warm my core gets, my hands still feel the cold. If you think about it, the hands are at the front of the motorcycle and are the first part of the body to encounter the weather.
Winter gloves can help, but I've tried them all, and found the best combination to be a good pair of thin gloves (Rukka Apollo are excellent if expensive), and heated grips. In more extreme temperatures I often go one step further by adding a set of bar muffs over the heated grips, for a totally weatherproof experience.
Comment below with your tips for staying warm.