Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Putting a Winter Motorcycle Outfit Together

Among other outdoor winter activities, dressing for cold-weather motorcycling is most similar to snowmobiling. The greatest similarity is in the lack of body-warming physical activity, but even there, snowmobiling requires a bit more physical work than motorcycling. On a motorcycle, the wind chill factor is greater, also demands better insulated and windproof clothing.  And with a motorcycle, there is also a greater chance for a crash into something harder than snow, meaning the clothing has to be tougher as well as warmer.  And the clothing cannot be restrictive or bulky either, as the rider needs to control the bike, and get off from time to time for a break.

It takes experience to put together a complete, effective motorcycle outfit for cold weather.  You can find some winter motorcycle gear individually that promises cold weather comfort, but gloves and jacket are useless if there is air blowing up your arm through a gap near your wrist.  Same with pants and boots. Each item has to be good on its own, but it also has to play well with the other items in your outfit. Cold weather riding is not about a single product. It’s about the interaction of all the parts.

I am going to do a walkthrough of a complete cold weather outfit for motorcycling, explaining how all the different parts work together.

You can find step-by-step pictures of the oufit here:

Here is the starting point for my outfit - I have a bike equipped with a handlebar windshield and splash guards for the feet, and a heel and toe shifter (there is interaction with footwear).  My base layer is nothing special, just what I wear normally inside the house. (jeans, t-shirt, long sleeve sweatshirt etc.)  I also have a full face helmet and textile motorcycle jacket with thermal and waterproof liners.

Next is what I wear motorcycling only in the winter or when it's below 12c.

Boots: Altimate Black leather 9" lace-up, I need size 12 EE (1 size bigger than normal for me, to accommodate two layers of thick socks, as the boots themselves are not insulated). The boots have a good tread in case of snow on my driveway. The boot tops are high enough to fit under a pair of overpants without any gaps.

Gaiters: When it gets really cold, I can add these. (The gaiters in the link are kind of like my black ones, except for the camo colour)

Belstaff Overpants with knee armor, and nearly full length zippered legs. They go over my jeans and boot tops, with a velcro strap to tighten the cuff.  I can't find them on the internet, so they must be discontinued. The "First Gear HT Overpant" from Revzilla looks similar.  The back zipper probably will not match my Scorpion jacket, but the Belstaff overpants don't even have a zipper, and so I obviously don't think I need it.  The First Gear overpants actually seem better (more features, probably more expensive) than my Belstaff pants.

Heated Vest: +Venture 12v "Scooter" vest uses Far-Infrared carbon fiber heating pads. Connects with a wire to the motorcycle battery.  Has a four position heat setting to save electricity and reduce fiddling with the on-off switch

Mitts: FXR Leather Index, with a big gauntlet to keep you warm.  Classic full mittens are warmer than the three fingered type, but I usually don't need that much heat.  For the same insulation, the three fingered mitt is about half way between a glove and mitts in warmth.

Optional: Thin liner gloves ($18) can be removed and washed, and help keep the interior of gloves or mitts cleaner and warmer.

Anti-fog face mask: Usually, I just lift the face shield when stopped or open just a crack going slow.  But when it is really cold, or extreme humidity, I experiment with other solutions for fogging.  The latest is a mask that goes over the bridge of my nose, made out of construction worker dust mask with holes cut at the bottom.  These are also commercially available, and may even work better than mine.

The rest is my regular motorcycle gear that I can wear all year long, like earplugs, neck scarf, wallet holder, sunglasses etc.

1 comment:

  1. Brrrr! I think I'll go downstairs and turn up the thermostat! ... LOL!