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Winter Motorcycle Riding Gear Options

That's it. It's time to accept it. Winter's here. I don't care how much everyone is screaming about Global Warming. Cold is cold. And when you're riding during the winter it feels that much colder. Wind chill is horrible. Compound the factor of speed. The faster you go the more the temperature drops. So the main idea behind this months TAB. How to survive the winter on your motorcycle.

Some of you silly bastards like cold weather. I'll never understand that. Maybe it's because I'm a skinny white boy. Not much blubber to hold in the heat. I live in the south for a reason. But even in the dirty dirty it gets cold once in a while. When the temp drops and the wind picks up I'm grabbing every piece of heavy clothing I can wear at once. If I look like the little brother from a Christmas story when I'm done, so be it. Hell, I'll wear my underoo's on the outside if it'll keep my ass warm. Maybe that's a bit extreme.

For those of us hardcore (read: stupid) enough to ride year round we need to get a little creative when thinking of how to keep warm while riding in the winter months. Ok, so we all ride fighters and are not exactly particular about having fairing's. So to get around our stubbornness we need to try and break the wind as much as possible.

Hands, being the first line of defense. Winter gloves are usually a good idea. Something with Gore-Tex or Thinsulate is a plus. Just about every major motorcycle apparel manufacturer offers a winter glove. Most can be had for under $80 with varying stages of protection and insulation from the elements. But aside from going out and buying a name brand glove. There are other steps you can take before you shell out some dough on specialty gloves. Take a run down to either the local grocer, hardware, or auto parts store and pick up a box of disposable latex gloves. These are great for holding in your natural body heat. And because they are form fitting, you can wear them inside your riding gloves as extra insulation. Some people may have a problem with latex. In which case, a sporting goods store or outdoor outlet carry glove liners. Moving up the sleeve, your wrists are prone to windblast. Even if you wear full gauntlet gloves, when in the riding position and moving around your sleeves can creep up and let in the wind. Try a pair of wristbands. A definite cheap trick for keeping the wind out of your sleeves.

As far as your upper body is concerned. This is going to take the brunt of the cold. Lack of a windscreen puts you right out there for old man winter to lay into you with a constant body blow. Heavy shirts are a must, obviously. But too many of these at once cannot only be uncomfortable, but restrict movement. Thermal shirts are always a plus. Combined with a sweater and lined jacket. But try some of those cool max shirts as a base to your layers. Anything to wick away moisture from your body is going to keep you that much warmer. If your jacket lets through wind in certain areas try and pin point them from the inside. Seams, vents, perforation. The fix for this is one that holds the world together. Duct tape. Yup, patch them up on the inside so the breeze doesn't make its way through. Plus, if you find yourself needing a piece for a quick fix on the road. there you go. Lastly, a thin nylon windbreaker under the jacket can be a great help. Or even your rain jacket over top.

Your head and face are super sensitive. Good full-face lids with closable vents are always the way to go. If you're in an area that gets lots of snow and super low temps, you may want to look into snowmobile helmets for the winter. The ones with heated visors would be a great option. Of course one of the most common ways to keep your head warm is wearing a beanie under your lid. If that's too thick for a comfortable fit, try the sporting goods and ski shops for balaclava's. The ones made of nylon are typically very thin. If you can get one that fits around your neck and face you're that much ahead of the game. If you want to be super biker, there's always the classic bandanna too. This will at least keep the wind off your face and your breath will keep your face warm. Keep breath mints handy though. One more cheap trick for cutting down fog and retaining heat. If your helmet doesn't offer a breath deflector you can make one out of duct tape. Double up the tape and form it to fit your face. Then tape it right to the inside of the chin bar. Just be sure not to leave any adhesive exposed. Most of us don't need our mustaches waxed.

The feet and knees are always in the breeze. Ski socks are a definite plus. The longer the better too. Insulated boots are really the only way to go. The less wind that can get in the better. A great piece of gear I found was MX knee and shin guards. These are similar to Hockey shin guards. Plastic caps with foam padding and fabric liners. Also makes for another safety alternative. The cool part about these is they are thin enough to wear under loose fitting pants. The plastic blocks the wind very well while the foam helps to retain heat. These are fairly inexpensive too. They can be had for under $40. Some even under $25. For the rest of your lower extremities, double up on pants. Sweat pants, Track pants, thermals, etc.

Of course there's always the option of heated riding gear. These can get pricey but if you plan to ride in very cold climates, it's probably a smart investment. The cheaper method is the hand warmer packs. They're fairly cheap and some last up to 8 hours. If you plan on doing some long riding, I would suggest getting some for the trip. You can put them in your shoes to keep your feet warm, in your gloves to help out your hands and any place else you feel is subjected to direct cold.

So now that you look like a reincarnation of the Michelin Man, what can we do to the bike that will help you out with out totally goobering it up? Well, again, anything that can block the wind will help. Like stated earlier, your hands are the first line of defense. Dirtbike style hand guards will keep some of the wind off your mitts. If you want to keep them toasty you can invest in some grip heaters also. Now Grip heaters are a bit limited as they really only work the palm of your hand. With the hand guards in place as well your fingers will thank you. Plus, if your bike has that kind of ruff and tumble look going for it, they'll fit right in.

Another, idea that struck me. Heated seats. This is actually a fairly simple idea. You can pull them from any factory-equipped car. Try the local junkyards. Just make sure they can bench test them before you walk out the door. You'll want the thermostat control with this, which can be mounted under the tail for adjustment while riding. Basically, heated seats are no more then a heating pad element that sits under the upholstery, a top the padding. The heating elements average about 100-140 degrees F. I did a search for "Upholstery Heating Elements" and came up with some good results and even installation instructions and tutorials for various seats. Both OEM and retro fits.

The biggest help of all is going to be getting out of the wind as much as possible. And to do that, we are going to need some sort of windscreen. Now for some, they may not approve of this idea, but there is an upside. This could be a seasonal exercise in restyling your bike. I'm not saying you have to go back to full fairing's, but stretch your creativity and maybe try a simple upper fairing. Restyle a factory upper, or make your own. Even a small fly screen can add a little redirection. When it warms back up, you can go back to your original design. At least you survived another cold winter, and maybe... enjoyed it?!

Everyone stay warm out there, and have a safe and happy holidays.

About The Author Shaun "Scrapyard" KellyStreetfighter Motorcycle Forum | Streetfighter Apparel, Art and Project Bikes
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