How To Stay Warm and Dry on Your Bike This Winter
Updated: Sep 20, 2021
Well girls, we're quickly approaching that time of year again. The nights are getting longer, the weather is getting colder and if you’re in the UK (like me), riding your motorcycle might start to feel more like a challenge than a nice relaxing way to spend your weekend. Although the thought of winter riding might seem pretty miserable to some, there’s lots of ways to keep yourself warm and dry on your motorcycle. So today I thought I’d take you through some of my favourite products, tips and tricks so that you can keep on riding, all winter long!
I figured we’d start at the top and work our way down, so let’s begin with your head. Now this might seem slightly obvious, but a full-face helmet is an essential for the colder months. Not only will this help to keep your head warm, but it’ll also keep you nice and dry when the rain inevitably starts. Visor fogging can be a major issue for motorcyclists during winter, as cold air, wind chill and rain dramatically reduce the temperature inside of your helmet which causes the moisture in the air you exhale to condense on the surface, causing it to mist up.
There are lots of products you can buy that claim to solve this issue (such as anti-fog sprays), however I’ve found that the most reliable option is to get yourself a Pinlock visor insert. Some higher-end helmets actually now come with a Pinlock insert included, however you can purchase them online to fit most full-face helmets. The Pinlock insert is made from a moisture-absorbing material that when secured to the visor creates an 'air-tight' chamber. The moisture absorbing material reacts like a sponge to absorb moisture in the air before it can settle and start fogging the visor. To be honest, I’m convinced that it’s some sort of wizardry and/or magic.
Other than a Pinlock insert, I highly recommend purchasing a bottle of Rain-X, which is a water repellent treatment that you can apply to the outside of your visor. This stuff repels rain, sleet and snow so it easily runs off your visor, allowing for clearer visibility in wet weather. Plus, it costs next to nothing, and a small bottle will last you ages!
Now the neck is an area that some folks frequently forget, but leave it exposed to the wind chill on a ride during the colder months and you’ll very quickly regret it. I personally wear neck tubes all year round, but in winter I switch to a thicker, fleece option for extra warmth. Something like these MotoGirl Neck Warmers are a perfect option. Soft, cosy and super toasty!
If you want to stay warm and keep riding throughout winter you’ll definitely want to invest in some thermals. You can buy thermal base layers from just about any outdoor or sports shop, as well as most motorcycle clothing retailers. One of my favourite Moto/YouTube channels (FortNine) has a video specifically covering this topic, so I highly recommend you give it a watch as they do a much better job of explaining it than I do (I’ll link it here!)
Other than your base layer, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve got a jacket and trousers which are suitable for winter. I won’t go into too much detail here as to which materials or fabrics to choose as there’s so many to pick from. However, make sure to opt for products which specifically state they are made for winter weather (you can usually filter by the season if shopping online). Bonus points if they’re also waterproof!
If the jacket and trousers you have aren’t waterproof, you can grab yourself a pair of waterproof outer layers relatively cheaply from most motorcycle gear or outdoor supply stores. I have the MotoGirl/TU waterproofs which work excellently, but also come in handy little storage pouches so you can keep them in your bag or panniers ready for whenever you get caught in the rain, miles away from home.
Remember, when it comes to keeping warm on your motorcycle it’s best to work in lots of thin layers. The reason wearing multiple thin layers will keep you warmer than wearing one thick layer is because warm air gets trapped between them, acting as an insulator. Try wearing a base layer (thermals), a mid layer (t-shirts/leggings) and an outer layer (jacket/trousers/waterproofs) for the best result.
It’s amazing how quickly your hands can freeze when riding in cold and wet weather (even inside a pair of motorcycle gloves), so you’ll want to invest in a good, thick pair or winter gloves to get you through the season. These might be a bit clunky to use to begin with as they’re much larger than regular gloves, but you’ll soon get used to it once you’ve hit the kill switch and indicators a few times by accident! Whatever gloves you buy, try to make sure they’re waterproof and lined with something like Thinsulate for extra cosiness.
If you’re someone that needs to commute on your bike throughout the colder months it may be a sensible idea to invest in some heated gloves or grips. Both do a fantastic job of keeping your hands warm but will cost a lot more than gloves alone. My partner has a pair of heated gloves (I’ll link them below) and when I tried them out for the first time I had to turn the heat down as they got too warm for me!
Heated grips are a more permanent option and are perhaps an alternative for those of you who don’t want to wear big, chunky gloves. However, to fit these you'll need to remove your existing grips, wire up and fit the new grips (which might be fiddly), mount the controller to your handlebars and tidy up all the cables. It’s not too complicated but for a complete novice (like me) you might need some assistance from someone with experience of fitting heating grips.
Finally, there’s always hand guards or muffs which are much cheaper and easier to fit than heated grips. Although they might not be the most attractive piece of kit, they do the job very well.
Now I’ve seen a lot of products designed to keep your feet warm whilst riding your motorcycle, such as heated insoles, heated socks and even boot heaters (yes that’s a thing!) However, I’ve read mixed reviews and have found that most people just tend to stick with the basics. Wearing long, waterproof boots with long thermal socks (and layering them if you have enough room) should keep the cold air out and your tootsies nice and toasty.
You’ll want to wear waterproof boots as any water that makes its way in can end up drenching your feet, which can make you feel unusually cold (especially during long rides). It can also be a safety hazard as your foot may slip within the boot, causing accidental application of the pedals which can lead to an accident. Not to mention that if the temperature drops low enough, that water could freeze inside of your boot, and you could end up in A&E with a nasty case of frostbite (OUCH!)
It's important to remember that cold feet can quickly become deadly when riding a motorcycle, so if you’re out riding and the weather changes and you’re suddenly losing the feeling in your feet you should either head home or find a warm place where you can stop, remove your boots and start warming your feet back up. During the colder months, it’s a good idea to carry some extra socks in your bag in case yours get wet or you feel you need to put on an extra layer to keep warm.
Okay folks, I think that just about wraps it up for my favourite products, tips and tricks to keep you warm and dry this winter! Just as a friendly little reminder, please pleeeeeease be safe guys. Riding a motorcycle is generally okay in winter as long as the temperature is not below freezing (0°C or 32°F). Once the temperature drops below freezing and there’s ice and snow about you should definitely consider if your journey is essential. The last thing I‘d want to see is one of you get hurt!
As always, any questions, comments or suggestions I’d love to hear so please leave them in the comments below. Stay safe and happy riding!