Saturday, December 22, 2007

Motorcycling in the winter

If you've ridden a motorcycle when the air temperature is below 40o, then you know how cold it can be to ride. According to the National Weather Service, if the air temperature is 40o and your traveling at 50-mph, then the temperature you feel is 25o. When it's 25o, at 50-mph it feels like 4o.

Riding without the proper gear at these temperatures is not only uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous:
  • Fingers get numb and it becomes hard to operate hand controls.
  • Toes get numb and it's difficult to operate foot controls.
  • Eyes will begin to tear when cold and visibility can be impaired.
  • Mental focus is directed away from traffic conditions and concentrates on trying to keep the body warm.
So, what are some tips for riding safely when it's cold outside?
  • Get a full length riding suit that will insulate the body from the cold wind. I wear a two piece Kevlar based textile suit with padding. While expensive, these suits will last years with minimal care. Mine is 7 years old.
  • Wear full face helmet. Keeping the cold wind off of your face is important. If not a full face helmet, then protect your face with a balaclava. Even the light weight ones can be effective by keeping your warm breath close to your face.
  • When the air temperatures get into the low 20s and teens, then, at least for me, heated gloves are in order. Keeping my fingers warm is most difficult for me and can make for a a very uncomfortable ride. When warm, even cold rides are tolerable for me.
  • If especially cold &/or I plan to take a long ride, then I don my heated socks and heated vest.
This gear can get expensive, but when riding in the cold, you'll agree it's worth every penny.

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