Riding in Hot Weather
July 16, 2013 - San Diego, CA
It's officially hot. A few weeks ago, I'd make a comment about the warm weather and would get told that it "wasn't that bad" or that other parts of the country were still getting snow flurries and rain storms. But finally the weather man and my coworkers alike are joining in on warm weather woes.
Of course, complaints about the broken AC aren't the only thing to start populating our sunny state. The freeways are now full of the one thing that almost makes me cringe harder than a crying baby on an airplane – squids. As the temperature rises, apparently so does the lack of riding gear.
Now, I'm not one to tell people what gear to wear when they ride. Sure, I'll advocate for ATGATT including full face motorcycle helmets over half helmets and even the modular stuff. But, when it comes down to it, every rider makes that choice and takes on that responsibility the second they get on a bike, even if I don't agree with the decision. I just can't help but get extremely annoyed when riders use the excuse that it's "just too hot" to justify them riding around in nothing but a t-shirt and shorts when riding in hot weather.
So, instead of pulling out my much used soap box and lecturing (though I still will plug this great little reminder of what can happen even when you decide to leave behind your motorcycle jacket just that once from Ride Apart: The Choice is Yours: Sweat or Bleed), I'm going to show you that it is never too hot to be properly geared up. Trust me, motorcycle gear companies have made sure of that. Here's a list of ways to stay cool when riding in hot weather and still be safe.
Hot Weather Motorcycle Gear
From mesh motorcycle jackets to vented motorcycle helmets, motorcycle gear companies have put tons of time and research into producing gear that not only protects you, but keeps you cool as well. Still, some people tend to think that those pieces of gear still keep you too hot, but it's quite the opposite. In fact, not only does that gear protect you from the elements such as the sun and wind, helping reduce fatigue, they trap the moisture that your body produces to cool you down.
It may sound kind of nasty, but when a mesh motorcycle jacket traps your sweat while letting air in, it creates a sort of swamp cooler effect, making you more comfortable with the jacket on than without. To take that theory to a step further, gear such as cooling vests recommend getting them wet before a ride so that this starts to happen without having to pull moisture from your body.
For a full list of motorcycle gear that will keep you cool while riding in hot weather, check out this article, http://www.bikebandit.com/community/articles/hot-weather-motorcycle-gear.
Whether you use a cooling vest or not, the fact of the matter is that as temperatures rise, your body looses more moisture. As the moisture leaves your body, it's extremely important for both your health and your comfort to replace it. In order to keep staying cool and avoid dehydration, be sure to drink tons of water both before and after a ride. If you're going on a ride that's longer, bring a hydration pack full of cold water. We really like the Geigerrig Rig 700 Hydration Backpack.
A good rule of thumb to keep hydrated on longer rides to drink an entire hydration pack of water for every tank of gasoline that you burn through. Need to gas up again but still haven't finished your water? Take a break and finish it before carrying on. You'll be a lot more comfortable physically on the inside and out.
Timing is Everything
Still too hot to handle? Rather than try to brave the heat at its peak hours, plan your rides for either earlier or later in the day, especially when taking shorter rides such as commuting to or from work. Sure, it may mean having to deal with being at the office a little longer, but riding just after the sun rises or as it starts to go down can really help cool down your ride.
If you're still feeling hot and think that taking off layers is the better option, do the opposite. There are a lot of small things that can be used to cool you down such as a wet bandana, check out these motorcycle headwraps and bandannas, tied around the neck or putting ice packs in your pockets. Both options are pretty cheap and can bring your heat level down without losing your protective gear.
Have any other tips for staying cool while riding in hot weather without losing your motorcycle gear? Let us know in the comments.