We all know riding in winter can be a cold and soggy affair. However, some us have no choice. So here is a list of top tips to keep you warm and dry through even some the harshest weather conditions
Whether you have to commute to work each day on a motorcycle all year round or you get caught up in some crap weather when travelling, there are some simple ways to keep dry and warm, even if you haven’t packed for the eventuality
1. WET FEET / DRY FEET
Wet sodden feet is a really uncomfortable experience, especially if you’re ridding in the wet all day long. I’ve yet to find a pair of boots that will stay dry riding a full day consisting of over 300 miles in the wet (if a boot manufacturer can prove me wrong, please get in touch)
There are a few things you can try to prevent the ingress of water through your motorcycle riding boots.
Buying a pair of Goretex boots will keep your feet dry, however, for how long, is the big question. I’ve tried dozens of boots, from £100 to £400+, some claiming to have waterproof, breathable membrane and other fancy names to boot but none have honestly lasted a full days use in the wet, making them “water resistant” as opposed to “waterproof“. The only pair of boots that have almost lasted a full day in the rain were a pair of Sidi Adventure Boots.
Plastic bag trick
If you can’t afford to shell out on a pair of Goretex motorcycle boots, then try a pair of plastic bags. Don’t be tempted to put carrier bags on your feet, often they’ll have holes in the bottom to prevent children suffocating themselves, thus potentially letting water in. You’d be better off using small bin liners. Whilst your feet won’t be able to breathe too well, if it’s cold, you’ll be just glad you have dry socks.
Water repellant solution
I’ve tried a number of expensive water repelling sprays and whilst some do work, it is only temporary. One of the best ways I’ve found of waterproofing a leather or sued boot, was to spray them with dry motorcycle chain wax, it really worked for me.
You may have heard of these already. They’re a relatively cost effective option, keep your feet warm, as most have a fleece or wool lining and have a decent amount of waterproof, almost neoprene feel outer. They come in varying different sizes and styles and do keep water at bay for quite some considerable time. Whilst they may not be 100% waterproof, by now you’ll have got used to the fact, nothing is 100% waterproof. They work well though and in colder temperatures they keep your feet warm. See here
2. WET HANDS / COLD HANDS
For me, gloves are a tough one. Again, I’ve tried dozens and dozens of pairs of gloves all claiming to be warm and waterproof, but once again I’ve been let down, even by gloves costing over £250. Perhaps manufacturers need to change their claim and label items “water resistant” instead. Maybe then they won’t get some many people returning their kit, saying its crap. If any manufacturer would like to offer me some waterproof, breathable gloves, I’m happy to oblige!
Some people recommend putting on Nitrile gloves before putting on your motorcycle gloves in a bid to keep your hands dry. Whilst, it will keep the water away from your skin, the gloves don’t allow for perspiration to escape, resulting in very, sweaty and uncomfortable hands. Furthermore, getting wet soggy gloves off your hands with nitrile / silicone medical, gloves is a bit of a faff.
Petrol stations often have plastic gloves for filling up with diesel. I have used these effectively in the past and seem to make getting wet gloves on and off easier. In warmer weather though, your hands will sweat a little.
Another option is to use the water repellent on the back of the gloves, as mentioned above. But be careful, this can reduce grip on the handlebars of you get, some on the palm area. Not good unless you want to fall off the bike. It won’t make them waterproof but will help to disperse water.
As mentioned before, Goretex gloves often work but in my experience they rarely last all day. Forking out in the region of £150 is a gamble for something that may, not live up to its claims. So, do your research and try and get reviews similar to the conditions and miles you’ll be riding.
Heated gloves work well. They use a low current to warm thin strands of wire woven into the material keeping your hands nice and toasty throughout the day. Some are battery operated and require recharging, others plug directly into your bikes electrics. Be careful though, if you have a heated vest, gloves and maybe even a pillion wearing the same, you may find the equipment is drawing more power to supply the heated clothing, than the bike can produce to restore your battery level, resulting in a flat battery.
I’ve heard, whilst writing this, that RST make a pair of rechargeable heated gloves that actually stay dry and toasty warm for very long periods. Check them out here.
3. JACKETS & TROUSERS
I once saw an overland adventure rider with a bin liner on his upper body. He’d cut a hole in the top for his head and two more on the sides for his arms so it could be placed on his torso. He claimed it didn’t a good job keeping his torso dry and warm. I’m not sure I’ve ever needed to go to such extremes but it demonstrated how a bit of quick thinking can stop you freezing and being soaked through.
There are many jackets and trousers out that, too much to choose from to be fair. But the most efficient is clearly the Goretex range. Admittedly you’d need to send your wife out at night to patrol the streets to afford a set. But paying in excess of £1,000 for a jacket and trousers doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll keep you dry. I’ve known riders who’ve worn a suit for the measly sum of £350 provide adequate protection against the elements.
Some of the better jacket and trouser combos are undoubtedly ones that have separate liners. It means during hotter spells you can remove this to provide more air flow and flexibility. The downside is having to fiddle about getting them in the jacket when it rains and most liners aren’t breathable, making you clamy and hot.
Goretex materials are breathable and the difference is definitely noticeable. Even when it gets warm outside, with Goretex, it allows your body to breath so reducing sweat. There are now new advancements in technology for Goretex based clothing, dual and tri laminate materials, stretch panels, combined leather and so on. I’ve used Klim for many years, for a number of reasons. Some of those being the fact it saved my skin sliding down a motorway at 70mph one year in France. Another, because the Goretex jacket and trousers are 100% waterproof and guaranteed. You get what you pay for admittedly.
If you commute daily, you may consider handlebar muffs. OK, I agree they look like something off an old BMW tourer from the 80’s but they do keep away the cold, the wind and the rain. You won’t score any prizes in a fashion parade but you’ll have the warmest, driest hands out there
Handguards can also help prevent wind blast, and rain. They won’t keep you dry and are designed primarily to protect your hands from branches on trails but they will assist in keep the worst of the windchill off the back of your hands
So that’s it folks. There’s a few tips and tricks here to keep you warm and toasty and dry this winter. ride safe.