Allstate Rider News knows you never want to stop riding. But we want you to stay warm and safe when the roads start turning cold. Vicki Sanfelipo gives us some great tips to do just that.
Staying warm when the weather gets cold can be a challenge for motorcyclists. In addition to the actual outdoor temperature, we also deal with wind chill, sunshine and the need for both wet- and dry-weather gear. Do you know that sunshine makes a difference of 15 degrees in perceived warmth?
While wind chill has little effect in warmer temperatures, in cold weather it can make the biggest difference of all, as seen on the National Weather Service’s chart. For instance, when you’re traveling 40 mph, 70 degrees feels like 68. But at the same speed, 40 degrees feels like 27.
Load Up the Bike
As gas prices increase, the length of the motorcycle season increases as well and people ride regardless of weather. Personally, I am always prepared. One saddlebag has all of my wet-weather riding gear (and tools), and the other has my cold-weather riding gear (and more tools).
One item I would not be without regardless of whether I’m dealing with wetness or cold is what some people call “elephant ears.” These are leather or vinyl protectors that snap on my engine guards. They cut down on wetness and air that scoops up from the front of the bike and help keep my feet warm and dry.
Build Your Warmth in Layers
As your body temperature decreases, so does your ability to think and act quickly. A preoccupation with being uncomfortable can slow your reaction time. Layering your clothing is an essential skill for keeping warm and avoiding those risks. There are many places to get gear designed to build layers; check out the offers by J&P and Motorcycle Superstore in this issue.
Layering without becoming too bulky to move efficiently is something all motorcyclists strive to master. You need three layers: a wicking layer, a warm layer and a wind-breaking layer. Typically, your leather jacket can act as two of these layers (warmth and wind breaking). The shirt underneath should be specially designed to wick perspiration so you don’t end up with a damp shirt that sucks away warmth. Long sleeves will help keep wind from blowing up them, and your gauntlet gloves will aid with that as well.
While my leather jacket provides a degree of wind-breaking capacity, when it is particularly chilly my rain jacket adds a layer and helps block the wind. I can add the rain pants with boot protectors if desired. In the saddlebag with warm clothes are my Thinsulate gauntlet leather gloves, chaps, neck warmer, balaclava, heated vest and hooded sweatshirt.
How to Heat Your Extremities
Personally, I would not be without my heated handle grips. Even with gloves on, they help keep my hands warm. If I keep my hands and the core of my body warm, I’m 75 percent comfortable.
You can lose a great deal of body heat from your head and neck area, so a neck warmer and a helmet will help to keep that heat in. Wool socks and a good pair of riding boots will keep your feet warm and dry.
Always Watch for Slippery Pavement
All of these cold-weather riding tips aside, I would like to caution you about riding on pavement that has frost or ice on it. There is no safe way to ride on two wheels when the pavement is slippery.
Even if the sun is out and the pavement appears dry, you will need to consider shaded areas as potentially dangerous. Coming into a curve and hitting a shaded area with ice can happen without warning, and even the most skilled rider could end up facedown on the pavement. Wet pavement can be slippery, but frost and ice are even more slippery! Ride safe and keep the rubber side down.
Do you have any cool-weather riding tips of your own? Share them with others below.
Allstate Insurance Company is not affiliated with Vicki Sanfelipo. Allstate makes no warranties or representations and is not liable for any goods or services provided by these individuals or organizations. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the views of Allstate.