10 ways to stay warm on your motorcycle

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10 ways to stay warm on your motorcycle

While the majority of riders tend to park the bike during the colder months, if you want to enjoy the experience of riding year-round, you'll need a few pointers to insure you stay comfortable, and thus focused on the ride.

To that end we've compiled the top ten ways we know how to stay warm on the bike down into the 40's at least, and in some cases you can go lower. Let's take a look.

Proper Interior Layering - However, it starts with what you layer up with and there are a lot of misunderstandings about what a rider should wear. We start by eliminating cotton from the mix all together. Cotton absorbs moisture but does not wick it well at all. And moisture sitting on top of your skin will steal your body heat faster than a bear will steal your lunch. Leave it at home.

This may mean you'll need to invest in a pair of synthetic, silk or wool long underwear. Do that if you need to. And make sure your first layer of undershorts are of a similar material. Ditto on socks.

Finally, get yourself a nice synthetic neck muffler to pull on after you've donned your jacket. Tube type neck mufflers and a welcome addition for cold weather riders and you'll notice the difference right away in how long you can maintain body heat using one.

It's important to note that you don't want to add too many layers on the interior. When layers are bunching up, they hold less air. Air is what stores heat. Too many layers, less air, less heat. Not good.

Related: Fall/Spring Motorcycle Camping

Exterior Layering - It's pretty likely if you're riding in the cold, you'll plan to wear a full coverage jacket/pant combo or suit. Seems like it almost goes without saying, but now and then Mr. Blue Jeans and Leather Jacket guy shows up for a ride - usually shivering.

A full face helmet is the best insulation for your head. Anything else will compromise your body's ability to maintian it's heat.

Boots? Full coverage motorcycle boots with a little space inside to retain some air for heat retention.

Heated Grips - Many manufacturers make heated grips as an add-on for their bikes. For those who do not, you can visit your dealer or go online and locate a third party line to fil the need. Since the hands and legs are the farthest extremities and don't carry much insulation with them, they'll be the first to get cold. Heated grips will do a fine job of replenishing what's being lost and keep those fingers toasty and functional.

Heated Seat - Having a heated seat does two jobs. First it adds an upward channeling of heat to the body's core, which is critical since the blood flowing out to the extremities needs to be at 98.6 degrees. If it's not, you can expect flu like symptoms after an hour or so of riding and that's your signal to pull out and warm up.

But heated seats have another virtue. They heat the blood that's making its way through the arteries to your legs, feet and toes. A bonus that will aid in staving off the dreaded numbing.

Related: Cold Weather Motorcycle Riding Gear

Heated Gear - We'll take the last two mentioned any day over a set of heated gear, but for many the combination of the two is nice. Since heated jackets heat from the sides, the previously mentioned seat is a more surefire way of warming the core. The addition of a jacket is a nice add-on for those who get cold easily.

Ditto for gloves. If heated grips aren't cutting it alone, add on a set of heated gloves.

Of course all these devices require power from your bike. Unless you're on a heavy duty touring mount, you could easily drain your battery. It's a good idea to get with your dealer or engineer buddy and start doing the math on what your alternator puts out to find out if it can keep up with all these warming devices. Aftermarket alternators, or the ability to send your existing one in for a more powerful rewind are options to explore if need be.

Heated Inserts - If you only ride a few times during the colder months, you could simply use warming inserts to add some heat to your body. They come in a variety of sizes that will fit your hands, feel and even larger to insert into the jacket liner to warm your core. If a set doesn't do it for you, double up and add some more. Be advised, our experience shows toe warmers pretty much can't keep up with the wind wicking heat from your feet at highway speeds. Full foot bed types are the better choice - and again, one set may not get the job done depending on distance and speed.

Let's note that the time to kick in the heat is at the beginning of the ride. Don't wait until you get cold because you'll have a lot of catching up to do to get back to a normal body core temperature.

EAT! - One of the best ways we know how to warm up is to eat some food. This is because your body has to burn calories to digest food and doing so creates heat. Try it sometime. One morning don't have much for breakfast, hit the highway at 60mph for an hour and see how you feel. The next time eat a normal portion breakfast and notice how much longer it takes for your body to get cold.

Pace yourself - If you're getting cold, that's a signal to pull out, have a warm beverage, perhaps a snack or meal and realign your body temp. Riding cold is uncomfortable and steals from your ability to focus on the ride. Don't let yourself go there.

Another trick that works well about this time is to take a short walk or hike. Perhaps a quarter to half mile just to get the heat going internally again.

Stay Dry - By all means keep dry. As pointed out earlier, water steals heat from the body fast. By staying dry at your skin, you'll be able to hang on to more of that precious body heat longer.

Add on the rain gear - Rain gear comes in handy for adding an additional exterior layer and breaking the wind. It may not be raining, but it will bring your core temp up a few notches if you use it anyway.

Tom Mehren/Fall 2014

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Tom Mehren is the author of the best selling Packing Light Packing Right guide to motorcycle packing. To find out more about the book and to see all the ride warm gear, visit www.soundrider.com/store

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