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Cool/Winter Weather Riding
As cold weather starts to roll in this season and the last red leaves fall off the trees, it's time to start thinking about what you're going to do with your motorcycle this winter. For some, winter means buying fuel stabilizer, dusting off the trickle charger, and gently snuggling their motorcycle into a warm corner of the garage. For the rest of us, winter means no change to our motorcycle riding habits except the addition of quite a bit of extra clothing!
Riding a motorcycle in cold weather comes down to one simple concept: insulation.
Since most people aren't very active on a motorcycle, their body isn't doing much to produce heat on its own to counteract the cold. That means we have to do everything we can to insulate the body in order to keep what precious heat that we do produce actually on our body, and not floating off in the cold winter air.
Insulation boils down to two things: layers (to slow the rate at which our body loses heat), and wind proofing (to keep the wind from stealing our heat).
Let's talk about layers first. Layers are critical for riding a motorcycle in the cold weather of winter. The number of layers you'll need to wear is based both on personal preference (some people naturally run a little hotter than others) and the temperature outside. The key is to have enough layers on that you feel comfortable (maybe even slightly warm) when you step outside and just stand in place(before you ride your motorcycle).
Remember two things
• Your bottom layer should always be some type of snug fitting thermal or fleece underwear. This will create a warm layer of air between your body and this material. (Don't worry about buying the expensive wicking materials like Dri-Fit, etc. - you won't be sweating much so it won't do you much good)
• Don't wear so many layers that you lose mobility. If you can't hold your arms at your side because of all your clothing, then it's probably time to invest in either some warmer, or even heated, clothing.
Now, let's talk about wind proofing. The biggest issue that you will have when riding a motorcycle in the winter is keeping the wind out. Wind, specifically wind chill, is your worst enemy on a motorcycle in cold weather. Doing everything you can to stop this enemy is going to go a long way to helping you ride your motorcycle comfortably in the cold.
Wind-proofing also takes the most trial and error to perfect. It can take quite a while before you finally plug all of those air leaks!
The main thing to do for wind-proofing is to make sure your outer layer is some type of wind-proof material. Leather is by far the most popular choice for this. Ideally, you should look for something that is both wind-proof and water-proof. There are many man-made materials that meet that criteria.
Here are a few additional thoughts on wind-proofing:
• While not stylish, duck tape can do wonders to seal any leaks you might have.
• Wear a full face motorcycle helmet with some type of covering for your neck and head. Most of your heat is lost through your head so do your best to keep it warm!
• Put newspaper on your chest between your outer layer and the layer underneath it - this does wonders for blocking the wind.