What I wear biking in cold weather.
Someone asked me recently how I manage the cold weather on my bike. I think it was in response to a post I wrote where I mentioned that when I started out in the morning it was minus 2 degrees Celsius, which is fairly nippy. I think the reader comes from a warmer climate than ours here in Ireland and couldn’t contemplate getting on a motorcycle in that kind of temperature. So my advice is, just move somewhere warmer. I wish it could be so! For now I’m stuck here where, although it hasn’t been a cold winter by any means, we have had some frost and temperatures down at minus 4 and a little lower in some places. That’s not that cold, and I’m sure if your from a country with a much colder climate you are wondering what the fuss is. The reason I think it’s important to talk about temperature is that it’s my opinion that if you get too cold, you are a danger to yourself and others when your out on a motorbike. When you start to feel numb it’s an indicator that things aren’t right and before long your muscles start to become weak and you can even start to become sleepy or drowsy, which is never to be recommended, particularly on a motorcycle.
The fact is, I never knew how cold it was on my last bike, but the V-Strom has a digital air temperature read out, as you can see in the picture above. Up to now if the fields were white with frost when I looked out, well then I knew it was frosty and I put on an extra layer. I am going to go in to detail and explain exactly what I wear. My preference is a base layer, my wife and I have merino wool long thermals and they are very good, but there are plenty of sports base layers that are great too. A t-shirt comes next or in very cold weather I would then put on a light fleece. Two pairs of merino wool socks, one of which is long, goes on next, and the long ones tuck nicely over the legs of the base layer. We both recently purchased ultra light feather and down jackets and they are brilliant. They roll up into tiny stuff pouches but are warm enough to wear as outer layers when your out and about walking, except in really cold weather. I am wearing one and holding another in the picture to show just how small they can pack and it’s amazing just how much warmth they create under your bike jacket.
We got new Scott suits when I bought the new bike and though we haven’t used the new gear much yet it’s already clear how snug and warm they are. Double layered and Gore-tex lined. We are very used to rain in Ireland though, and I always pack a waterproof jacket and pants, because I have experienced “waterproof” clothing before. My wettest experience in years was a trip from Northern France, through Belgium and all the way up through the Netherlands to The Hague, to stay with my good friends Damir and Alisa. Hard to believe that an Irishman had his worst wetting in another country. I have some good heavy duty thermal gloves but the Hot Grips on the V-Strom mean that my hands are unlikely to be a problem. I have a few pairs of boots for use on the bike but my favourite ones are the Daytona Traveller boots that are warm and waterproof. My feet have never been wet and the wet trip to The Hague there was barely a drop even got past the zips into the first folded layer of Gore-tex material and absolutely not a drop got inside. My preference is for full face helmets for warmth and safety, though I did bring an open face one with me to the States last year for my trip with Matt up to Laconia Bike Week last year. I have fleece neck warmers and neck buffs and even buffs with a fleece section that does it all in one. The last thing to go on is the reflective jacket that is another layer against the cold and improves the rider’s visibility.