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Motorcycles are cool to look at and fun to drive, but they can be a hassle to ride when temperatures drop. You can’t warm a bike up like a car, and heated motorcycle seats won’t protect most of your body from chilling winds. Without layers of sheet metal around you, you’re also exposed to freezing rain and snow. Riding your motorcycle in cold weather can be annoying at best and potentially dangerous at worst. If a motorcycle is your only transportation option, here are three ways to beat the cold weather.

1. Layer up while riding your motorcycle in cold weather

motorcycle riding cold weather
A motorcyclist drives through snowfall | Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images

Staying warm should be your top priority when riding a motorcycle in cold weather, so layer up. Start with a moisture-wicking fabric as the base layer, which will prevent you from sweating too much. Nylon and polyester shirts are some of the most breathable garments.

You also need a warm middle layer that will trap heat against your body, ideally 100% cotton or wool. Your outer layer should be a thick coat or jacket that will keep your body dry in snowy or rainy conditions. A leather jacket lined with shearling or wool is an excellent defense against the cold.

For extra comfort, you can also wear a heated motorcycle jacket. These jackets are often lightweight and water-resistant; plus, you can adjust the temperature. Some motorsports clothing companies even carry heated motorcycle pants.

A motorcycle helmet is essential in winter, but you should also have sufficient neck protection. Rather than using a scarf, consider wearing a neck gaiter or balaclava — they’re less bulky than a scarf and won’t fly off in high winds.  

Some winter days are milder, so you can wear less at your discretion. Still, carry your main three layers in case the weather gets ugly. Store the garments in motorcycle tail bags (which are relatively inexpensive) for easy access.

2. Wear winter motorcycle gloves when riding in cold weather

A pair of lightweight motorcycle gloves won’t be enough to protect your hands from near-freezing temperatures. You need a thick pair that can withstand precipitation and won’t restrict your hands’ movement. Gore-Tex gloves, with an enhanced grip and wind protection, are popular among bikers.

Heated motorcycle gloves are also available, though they cost more than standard ones. Gloves lined with fleece or similar material can be just as sufficient. If your gloves lack lining, you can wear glove liners for another layer of warmth, Erie Insurance suggests.

It’s also important to protect your feet. You’ll have a hard time staying balanced on your bike with frost-bitten toes. So pull on a thick pair of socks made from wool or durable waterproof fabric. 

In addition, wear winter boots. Tall boots are preferable because they provide your lower legs with additional insulation. A rechargeable heated pair is another good option.

3. Don’t forget to hydrate

Water keeps you cool in hot climates, but it also helps you retain body heat in cold weather. In fact, drinking ice-cold water will cause your body temperature to rise at a faster rate. If drinking cold water doesn’t sound appealing in winter, warm tea is a good alternative.

In addition, properly stimulating your metabolism with food will keep you as warm as possible while riding a motorcycle in cold weather. Slow-digesting foods such as beef jerky, oats, and bananas are the best snacks to sustain you on chilly drives.

However, remember that layers and proper nutrition can help only so much. Motorcycles weigh far less than cars, so they’re likelier to slip on ice. Try not to ride your motorcycle in below-freezing temperatures unless necessary.


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