How to stay warm on a bike

Dailies, How To -



Have you ever been cold on a motorcycle? If you answered no, you’re either lying or you only ride on sunny days in the summer. The rest of us know that even if it’s 65º out, you can still freeze your ass off. It’s now November and even in LA, most people have parked their bikes for the winter. Here’s how you can stay warm and ride year round.

It’s the obvious answer but in practice, layering effectively is not something that just happens. The goal is to get maximum warmth with minimal bulk. Adding clothes until you look like the little brother from A Christmas Story is a pain in the ass and probably won’t keep you as warm as a few well chosen items.

Layering for motorcycle riding is much different than what you would do for snowboarding or other cold weather activities. When I go snowboarding for example, I often end up wearing a t-shirt, thermal and a well ventilated shell. Because it’s an intense physical activity, my body generates a lot of heat and I stay warm. Cruising down the freeway at 80mph is not an intense physical activity though. You’re sitting motionless for miles at a time, and when you do move, it’s a small head twitch, a few degrees of rotation in your right wrist, two fingers pulling a brake lever, or a twitch of your left ankle to shift gears. None of that is going to generate any appreciable heat.

What your clothing needs to do then is retain the heat your body produces at rest and insulate your extremities from the cold. Start with something very thin and close fitting. On top, this means something thinner and tighter than a t-shirt and with long sleeves. I wear Alpinestars summer tech performance long underwear (there’s also a dedicated winter variant) that’s made of high-tech fabric, cost real money and works fantastically well. Works great under my leathers too. Ashlee accomplishes the same thing with soft cotton long-sleeve t-shirts. Next, I add a t-shirt or tight fitting fleece pull-over. Under a warm jacket with a liner, this is almost always enough, at least for me. Ashlee usually adds a vest to stay warm. Vests, especially puffy ones, are ideal for layering on a bike because they fill the space between you and your jacket to keep cold air out and core temps up without adding bulk to your arms.

Don’t shy away from non bike-specific base layers too. Often items engineered for winter sports work very well on a bike, so long as you still create plenty of dead airspace inside an utterly windproof, waterproof shell. Wes, used to colder climates, swears by his 10-year old Mountain Hardware thermals. They’re made from Gore-Tex Windstopper, so insulate and block any remaining windchill that gets through your shell.

One area you shouldn’t forget about is your neck. With a huge number of blood vessels just below the skin and not usually benefiting from coverage by a jacket or helmet, this is a major area of heat loss for motorcyclists. Luckily, it’s easy to cover. Even one of those $2 cotton neck tubes helps, but something made from Gore-Tex Windstopper is best, with it, you only need the one layer there. Off the bike, wearing a scarf around your neck on a cold day has a similar warming effect to wearing a sweater. On a bike, on a cold ride, covering your neck is crucial.

Your legs are less important for overall warmth, but there’s no reason they can’t be warm and toasty too. I start with the same Alpinestars base layer, but nylons or tights (if you’ve ever been curious about cross dressing, here’s your excuse) work 90% as well. On top of that I add fleece or thermals, or jeans if I’m planning on wearing winter pants or my Roadcrafter. If you’ve been riding in regular old jeans, now is the time to add knee armor. In addition to protecting you from impacts and abrasion, knee armor does a fantastic job of blocking airflow to a very exposed part of your body.

Last is your feet. When you’re picking out socks, height and fit are most important. A tight fit keeps blood from lingering in your feet and calves where it loses heat and if one pair doesn’t do the trick, it’s easy to add thick MX socks on top.

Your Hands

Your hands are often the first parts of your body to feel cold and the first to go numb, impacting bike control. But, most people don’t understand why they get cold.

If you’re wearing windproof, waterproof, insulated gloves and your hands still get cold, it’s not because you need to wear more layers or bulkier gloves (which can impair your ability to operate the clutch, throttle and brake), but rather it’s because your body is keeping all its warm blood in your torso to keep your organs up to temp. In short, your hands feel cold because your torso is too cold.

To prevent this, it’s often a case of better insulating or heating your torso. Put on an extra fleece under your jacket, seal off drafts better, cover your neck and tuck in your sweater. If that’s not enough, look into a heated vest. Most of the time, a heated vest alone will be enough to keep the entirety of your body warm. By keeping your core up to temp, it will keep warm blood actively pumping around your entire body, including your hands. This is why heated grips often feel hot to the touch, but still leave you with cold hands.

Another easy fix is to remove your hands from the airflow (although this doesn’t change the theory of core body temp above). Barkbusters do a good job, but cheapo bar muffs are even better. With muffs, you can ride in summer gloves year round, in any weather, you’ll just look like a total weirdo.

The only way to go is a motorcycle specific jacket and pants combo or one-piece suit. In addition to regular motorcycle things like impact protection and abrasion resistance, you should wear something that’s water and wind proof.

I’m going to let you in on a secret: nothing short of a vinyl rainsuit is 100% waterproof right out of the box. Even then, water can easily get past your neck, wrists and ankles. The trick is to not worry about getting wet and when you do, note how the water made its way in. Get creative and fix the problem. After a few cycles of this, you’ll have a waterproof outfit you can trust. Use silicone and tape (apply silicone, tape over, remove once dry) to seal up leaky stitching on boots. Use a spray-on or wash-in treatment for textiles. Use Seam Grip for (obviously) seams and around zippers.

You should also consider your gloves and boots. Cold weather gloves make an amazing difference. Despite what grizzled old pirates will tell you, operating clutch and brake levers with frost bike is incredibly painful. Arriving with pale blue hands and a bad mood sucks too. The solution is easy: buy and wear insulated cold weather gloves. If they’re not warm enough, wear glove liners too. Boots are even easier. Just about anything that isn’t a racing or summer boot will be reasonably water and wind proof and if yours are leather, it’s easy to add mink oil and beeswax. If you’re caught out in the rain with leaky boots, the quick fix is a couple of plastic bags. Put them on over your socks and ride on. SealSkinz take this idea one step further by tailoring fit and using modern materials.

There are other things you can do to stay warm. Grip heaters can be had for $20 or less, install easily and quickly on any bike and keep your hands warmer, even with thinner gloves. Do you check the weather before heading out? You should. And don’t just check temperature where you are, look up your destination as well and a few places along your route. Plan for changing weather too. If it’s 46º when you leave in the morning, but 84º when you’re coming home, make sure you have somewhere to store your extra layers. Also pay attention to windchill. At 85mph, 46º feels like 32º. I usually guess with a fair degree of accuracy what a given temperature will feel like at speed, but if that’s not your area of expertise, use a windchill calculator. If air is leaking past your collar, wear a scarf. They’re comfortable, cheap, effective and cool. Don’t have a dedicated winter riding suit? Tuck everything but your jacket into your jeans. It helps. Cold wrists can often be fixed this way too. Try wearing your gloves inside your jacket and tucking your shirt sleeves into the gloves. If your face gets cold, consider adding a Quiet Rider to your helmet and/or wearing a balaclava. Moist, warm air will make shields fog though, so you’ll probably need a pin-loc or fog city insert too.

Just because it’s a little colder outside, doesn’t mean you have to park your bike. With some forethought, you can stay warm and dry for very little money. Even a worn out old leather jacket and jeans can be warm if you wear the right stuff underneath them. And, if you’re a commuter, consider how much money you’ll save by not driving. Even if you spend it all on gear and break even, the fun you have will make it more than worth it.

What do you do to stay warm on cold rides?

  • jpenney

    Good point about many items not being quite waterproof. Pants tend to leak right in the crotch where the seams for the legs meet. Cold, wet balls make for a bad ride.

    I now hit all of the seams with a tent seam sealer and re-apply it every year or so. It’s made a huge difference in my lower-end gear.

    • Sean Smith

      DCGS, or Damp Cold Groin Syndrome is serious business.

      • Paul


    • Justin

      lol @ cold wet balls

    • Mark D

      Its dorky, but bicycle shorts under your pants/jean+overpants really helps keep out the crotch cold.

      My Aerostich shorts keep away monkey butt in the summer, but the fleece dong-section is helpful when its cold.

      • jpenney

        Also good! My mountain bike shorts have a little padding in key places the help with uncomfortable seats.

    • Kevin

      I read that as “taint seam sealer.” Funny how it doesn’t change the meaning.

  • Mr.Furious

    I can’t say enough good things about my heated vest. With your core warm, your extremities maintain circulation and you stay comfortable.

    • stickfigure

      +2 (one for me, one for the ms). I pack the vest on almost every trip. And when it gets *really* cold, a cheap 1-piece rainsuit is astoundingly effective wind protection.

      We’ve survived blizzards in Alaska – not only is my pillion still talking to me, she actually had a good time.

  • gaudette

    65 degrees is cold :O

    It’s 19 here in northern Alberta and it’s only getting colder.

    I need to move south.

    • Kirill

      65 degrees is cold to us soft Southern Californians. Most of us wouldn’t know what do to in sub-zero temps.

      • Sean Smith

        I wouldn’t call it cold, but if you’re wearing a mesh jacket and t-shirt on the freeway, you’ll get hypothermia.

        • zato1414

          Wrap your hands around a hot latte and you’ll survive.

    • The other Joe

      65 Isn’t too bad. 40 and below can be a problem. I generally won’t ride below freezing.

    • Devin

      I live in Northern Alberta.

      The previous owner of my bike installed an electrical outlet that went to a grip heater in his jacket. I am considering something similar. Getting an extra month of riding for us is like 20% more riding annually – which is priceless.

      • superbikemike

        65 degrees is cold??? …. soft ain’t what i would call it… more like spoiled, i’m jealous of you guys on the left coast that can ride year round, i gotta have a cage to get around in the snow… i ride until they drop the cinders all over the road, then i shelve it… and get cabin fever, till spring hits

        • Sean Smith

          Did someone say snow?

  • Kirill

    Back when I was broke, I used to wear an oversize windbreaker over my perforated leather jacket, which worked surprisingly well. A scarf is great for keeping your neck warm. I also wear a balaclava on cold days, helps keep the face warm, though I keep meaning to get one of those fancy ones that go all the way down to the top of your chest. The one-piece suit is really the biggie, or at least a jacket/pants combo that zips together. Nothing sucks more than cold air up your shirt that you can’t do anything about.

    Heated grips rule, I need to get some fitted onto my XR. Heated vests don’t become necessary until it gets REALLY cold (like, say, Alberta).

  • 10/10ths

    Good stuff.

    I was late to the heated gear party, but I live there now.

    If it is truly cold, nothing beats heated gloves, pants, jacket, and socks.

  • bluemilew

    Great article, I have some suggestions though. I use snowmobile gloves in winter as they are thicker and keep you warmer. A great alternative to heated grips is resting your hands on the engine while you ride, just make sure you have leather and not synthetic gloves. Also, you can substitute the scarf for a face thing? found at sports authority or similar store. Its a neoprene mask with a velcro closing, it you drop it down its perfect for filling the gap b/w jacket and helmet.

    Also, be very careful in winter as road salt doesnt provide too much grip and there might be invisible ice patches, especially at night.

    These are my gloves, they are great and Chicago winters would suck without them.

    • nick2ny

      Plus one for the $0 heated cylinders trick. a sticky throttle cable once let me ride with my hands in my pockets and it was awesome.

    • Devin

      Cool idea. I should do a search and see if I can’t find snowmobile snow-cross gloves, they might combine warmth with safety.

    • Vishwacorp

      I’m in the market for some gloves (dipping in the high 30s to low 40s now in NYC) so I’ll check these out. I’d imagine with some glove liners, they should work as well as the more expensive gloves.

  • Steve

    Grip heaters. You’ll be amazed how often you turn them on and how addictive they are. I suggest you splurge and get a variable controller to go with them. You also always have them with you. No planning required!

    • Charlie

      Exactly. You’re good to 40-45 degrees with decent clothing and heated grips. Anything colder and you need electrics anyway. I have the Gerbings gloves…but even the lightest ones are too bulky for me. Only if necessary

    • nick2ny

      Grip heater recommendation?

      • Steve

        Been a long time since I installed any, so I don’t remember the heater brands. I do remember the “heat troller” was the best variable controller available.

        For you geeks, the heat troller has a pulse width modulated output. Many of the other variable or selectable heat level controllers are just variable resistors.

      • Eric

        My new/used bike came with Oxford Hot Grips, and they’re friggin’ awesome. Very, very, warm. I’ve ridden down to about 35 degrees, and have never gone above the 75% heat setting. They go for like $80 at Twisted Throttle. Highly Recommended.

        BE WARNED, however. If they are hooked up directly to the battery, they WILL drain your battery in about two or three weeks! You either need to wire it directly into accessory ignition circuit or ride more often. I choose the latter.

      • Rob

        Symtec work great.
        A relay to hook up to a switched source is a very good idea.

  • Case

    For a base layer under a jacket I like Icebreaker thermal shirts. They are 100% wool, so if you’re allergic then they are not for you. As an added bonus you can wet it down and wear it under your jacket in the summer for evaporative cooling.,en,sc.html They make leggings too, but I prefer Skins compression tights to wool on my legs.

    Sean touches on the important thing: you need a system of gear that will keep all your parts warm. Any breakdown in the system will have you thinking ‘holy shit I can’t feel my fingers/feet/face/etc’. Alpinists use a similar approach.

  • Brad

    Just got home after a great 40 degree, 3 hour ride on my so called naked bike. Heated liner and gloves. Heaven and not bulky.

  • randry

    I’m from the midwest. No mountains here.
    I got caught at night in the mountains on a trip one time, under dressed. As soon as the sun went down I was cold. I bought a newspaper and wrapped my torso in it. It saved me. Wes is right, blocking the wind out is crucial.
    I’ll ride to work into the upper 30′s. I have a nice water proof thermo suit that has mile long zippers in the legs so I don’t have to take off my boots.

    • randry

      Sorry, make that Sean is right.

  • aristurtle

    If you’re plugging in heated gloves, jacket, socks, pants, and coffee mug holder, make sure your alternator can actually produce that much power or you’ll just slowly drain your battery until it dies and you end up stranded in the freezing cold. Wiring up a voltmeter is a nice safety measure at that point.

    • Sean Smith

      Very, very good point.

      • jonoabq

        Datel makes a very nice $50 digital voltmeter that is small and easy to flush mount in paneling. I installed one on my 06′ Tiger…saved my ass once when my 4 year old battery started to die.

    • jason McCrash

      And a lot of smaller or older bikes can’t handle the draw. But there are a bunch of companies that can rewind your alternator to give more output if you’re dead set on keeping that bike.

  • nolan

    One tip I can give is to make a electric jacket on the cheap. I bought a 12 volt electric blanket for about 20 bucks. took it apart and installed it into a hoodie. Put a standard plug on it that manufaturers use and a roller switch. Put on my normal leather riding jacket over it and Im good to the mid 30s and comfortable. Sure beats buying a 200 heated jacket!

    • superbikemike

      dude…wholey macgyver!!! ;)

    • motoguru

      haha, yes!!

    • Core

      That’s not a tip, thats more like.. Engineering.

      My hats off to you good sir. Impressed.

    • Ed

      Genius … can you do an Instructable on that? I’ve got an electric blanket that has lived it’s life dreaming of a motorcycle ride.

  • fasterfaster

    My trick is after topping off at the gas station, and pour a little extra onto my back and legs. Light up, and it keeps me toasty for at least a few miles.

    • dux

      Bonus style points as well!

    • Jesse

      Hey, I saw that movie!

  • Mike

    Got my Gerbing heated liner for $150 and I wear it on all but the hottest days, just a matter of plugging it in when needed (to the pigtail stuck under the seat, wired direct to battery.)

    I have the heated gloves to go with it, but I rarely use them. Once I put barkbusters on, I’ll probably forget all about them.

    Extra Fashion Bonus: The Gerbing liner looks like a Members Only jacket, so you’ll be styling around the campsite.

    Seriously, $150 is nothing to stay warm & keep from doing dumb things. If you can afford a tire you can afford this.

  • dux

    I’ll reinforce the knee armor trick. I could feel cold blood rushing out of my joints after an early morning ride with normal jeans. About an 80% percent reduction of the phenomenon while wearing armor.

    • Austin Milbarge

      +1 on the gerbing liner

    • motoguru

      +1 on knee armor.

  • cynic

    This vest is the best thing ever.

    Even not plugged into the bike it’s amazing at keeping me warm. Get’s warmer the more air you put into it, making it very versatile. I wear this all year long even in the summer for those cold mornings, since it’s a vest it packs up pretty small when you don’t need it later on the ride home.

  • jonoabq

    Check out Craft for cycling base layers. Perfect if you are of an athletic build, cut for the being in a relaxed tuck. I’ve used them for alpine everything in the winter and on the bike/motorcycle for years, have yet to find anything I’d trade them for at any price. (the Zero Extreme in zip top or mock turtleneck)

    • Bryan Whitney

      +1 on Craft. Great product.

  • Eric

    Ride slow. Lean down and hug the bare engine on my rat bike Katana at every stoplight. On the freeway take my feet off the pegs and press my legs against the cooling fins.

    Reach the point where you’re so miserable you start laughing. I cracked the face shield to not fog up and a semi launched a wave of muddy water up my nose AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    In madness the cold ceases to bother you.

    Then I got a better job and bought better gear.

    • Sean Smith

      “Then I got a better job and bought better gear.”

      Basically the story of why I started writing.

    • Core

      Poor guy. I was feeling sorry for myself, and then I read that and laughed.. I don’t feel as bad now.

  • Emmet

    army/navy store for socks, thermals, and heavy weight Commando wool sweater. Got cold weather riding gloves (alpinestars apex drystars-love them!), but still feel chilled at prolonged 55mph riding. Someone recommended glove liners in the roadcrafters post-need to do that. Wind collar from revit is nice-able to ride with an open face helmet with only a slight sting at 40ish temperatures.

    Revzilla has a great winter riding gear category with helpful videos. Sorta like the HSN for motorcyclists…

    • Wes Siler

      Again, you’re relying on old, cheap crap when there’s been real advances in the technology since Vietnam.

      Check out Patagonia’s Capilene thermals or anything containing Gore-Tex Windstopper. I know stuff is expensive, but I’ve had my bike thermals for a decade now. I think that pretty much merits the $150 cost.

      • Braden

        Very much agree on the Patagonia Capilene thermals. One level 4 shirt and pants, a windstopper, regular clothes and normal year-round jacket keeps me comfortable down to the mid-30s at non highway speeds.

      • Emmet

        army/navy sells more than WW2 surplus fatigues nowadays. Yesterday I picked up Smartwool glove liners and Carhartt extremes socks. Thanks for the thermals suggestion, I’ll check that out.

        I’ve had my Commando sweater for 8 years now-I’ve grown into it, still haven’t washed it, and it keeps me warm on the coldest days. Some ‘old, cheap crap’ works just as well as the ‘new, expensive crap’ :)

        • sam howe

          i agree to an extent on the why change when the old stuff seems to work. i have however gotten into the newer expensive stuff as it is not as bulky to wear which over a long ride can cause fatigue… also more aerodymanic!

  • Kurt

    Heated jacket liner, heated gloves, windproof fleece neck gaiter, and my Roadcrafter and I’m good down to 15 to 20F. Any colder than that and I really don’t want to be outside, let alone riding.

  • Gregory


    Any Kawasaki or Yamaha dealer will sell gauntlets that go over the grips. They’re made for snowmobiles/ SkiDos. You have to learn how to use your thumb controls without looking. I also use zip-ties to keep mine tight w. no airflow problems. They keep your knuckles nice, warm and dry.

    It was the courier drivers in Seoul from whom I learned this trick.

    Gauntlets are great for Oregon/ Pacific Northwest weather. You can ride all the way down to 33 Fahrenheit.

    Vroom, vroom~

    Go KLR!

    • Wes Siler

      I think you mean bar muffs.

      • jason McCrash

        He means Hippo Hands type gauntlets.

        • jonoabq

          no, he meant bar muffs…dang, I almost blew coffee out my nose.

  • motoguru

    Highs in the 50′s here in Detroit these days.

    Powerlet heated jacket liner and glove liners under Icon Patrol jacket and gloves. Dual controller. Triumph Acton pants over jeans or thermals depending on if I’m commuting or not. Several pairs of warm boots to choose from depending on my mood. Been rocking the new Icon Reign’s Justin sent me a lot lately. Balaclava on the head and neck for longer rides.

    • motoguru

      Bark busters and fly screen on the bikes.

  • Chris Davis

    In the winter I only ride two-up. I put my jacket on backwards and zip it to my wife’s jacket. I stay warm and the built-in padding is so comfortable on my back.

    • DavidMG

      Hahaha, that’s very original.

    • Scott-jay

      Sound’s cozy.
      Imagine a crash video.

  • Troy R

    Embrace the winter riding, Paul Mondor style:

    I use an old shaft-drive nighthawk, some knobby tires, and a spare battery to deal with the crappy charging system on heated gear:)

  • Troy R
  • jason McCrash

    Cross country ride 2 years ago I ended up starting the mornings in Big Bend National Park with a long sleeve tshirt, 2 fleece, a leather, a rain jacket, bike gloves under thick real winter (i.e. for snowball fights) gloves, plus a balaclava and neck warmer on top and a pair of jeans, Firstgear HT over pants w liner, rain pants, 2 pairs of socks and some wind/waterproof cowboy/oil worker boots I got at a western wear place along the way. This was with a Fulmer V2 (Easy Rider of course….. it WAS Texas!) with bubble shield. By 2pm I was down to jeans, boots, leather, no bubble shield.
    All of it could’ve been dumbed down by using a decent windshield.
    Save a lot of money and try a bigger and better windshield. Ugly to someone watching me ride by doesn’t mean shit to me. I just mounted my BFUWS (big fuckin ugly windshield) to one of my bikes. A National Cycle Plexifairing…… fugly as can be but will get me a good month more riding time than anything short of a full on touring bike. Comes off in 2 minutes and protects everything but my feet and shins.

  • Ben

    I rode across northern canada once and all that modern stuff Wes is hyped on is shit. Doesn’t handle real cold and brutal rain at all. My buddy was in a roadcrafter and was fine, I rocked Vietnam era surplus rain gear.

    What we both had stuff down our suits that was the real trick was bubble wrap. Best riding insulation EVER. Think about it, dead air space, impermeable, flexible. Its perfect

    • 80-watt Hamster

      I don’t know if I’d write off all of the modern stuff, but time spent shoveling a driveway in Northern Plains blizzards has shown me that wool and down are much better vs. serious cold than anything synthetic so far.

  • jim

    I commute in New England down to about 15 degrees F
    and use many of the ideas listed above.
    I think the most important are heated grips and a balaclava.
    I tuck the morning paper in my jacket in the A.M.
    and, a bit oddly, use a roll-up plastic cutting board, that I keep in my top case for the ride home ! probably a bit like the bubble wrap w/o the insulating property, but super convenient for an evening commute.
    Don’t mind the cold, but sure hate the icy roads!

    • superbikemike

      you boys in cali need to listen to this guy… 15 degrees… not a toasty 65…. i do like the bubble wrap idea from above… giving that one a try

    • Sean

      I used to do a 60mile round trip down to about that cold. Hand guards help to deflect the wind. Also a nice fleece over long underwear then my moto gear. I’d use a deflector for my breath and a scarf. I never had issues being cold. Only the snow/ice would have me put the bike away.

  • DavidMG

    Very timely this. Today was the coldest day I’ve ridden since I started riding last year. 3/37 degrees, but a very nice sunny day in Vancouver.

    I’m quite happy with all the gear I have and I layer in the same way described in the article. Works like a charm. Heated grips help too.

    My biggest issue right now is fogging. I’ve been using Clarity Defog it on my visors and it works great but it has to be re-applied after every ride to completely eliminate fogging and soft focus effect.

    I picked up a pinlock insert today and I’ll be getting the matching visor next week. Looking forward to trying it out.

    • Sean Smith

      Pinlocks are the best. Close your shield once at the start of your ride and never have to open it til you shut the bike down.

      • rustycb450
      • sam howe

        i second the pin locks best idea i have used

    • Jason

      Nothing works as well as a pin-lock visor. An absolute necessity for cold, damp weather.

  • Scott-jay

    “It’s now November and even in LA, most people have parked their bikes for the winter.”
    Poof! And another of my long-held notions lies shattered by the internet.

  • mcfaite

    Electric jacket, winter gloves, polypro long underwear, goretex overpants, 3/4 length cordura jacket w/ great warm collar.

    I am surprised that no one has mentioned buying a copy of the Daily News (or whatever your local tabloid paper) and putting it across your chest under your buttoned up Perfecto jacket. Internet generation, I’ll tell ya.

    • jason McCrash

      Yup, just like ‘bums’ in old movies using the paper to sleep. We see newspaper insulation in turn of the century houses all of the time. That would be the 19th to 20th century for all the wee ones on here. It’s definitely better than nothing.

      3 years ago I stopped at a gas station in the middle of Pennsylvania (which you left coast guys can’t imagine being as cold as it is for such ‘small’ mountains) on the way back from a ride down to DC and bought a $5 fleece blanket that a lot of gas stations in BFE sell to use just like the paper idea. The idea of being just 3-4 hours from home and getting a hotel cause it’s freezing blows, but I’ve done it. Taking a chance on wrecking due to fatigue and cold vs dropping an extra $100 is stupid. Unfortunately I’m surrounded by Great Lakes and mountains so other than July/August the ride at night back to western NY is gonna be cold.
      That ride was in October……80 degrees in DC that day, 35 in the PA mountains that night, plus windchill.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    Sean, what do you do when you’re sitting on a lift? I never get cold when I’m heading down the mountain. It’s when I’m sitting on the lift that I appreciate the many layers I’m wearing. Don’t tell me that you only ride gondolas!

    At Mammoth, for example, Canyon Express is especially cold/windy/shaded where it passes over the chutes, even when it’s warm down near the lodge.

    • Sean Smith

      Sitting on the lift? I zip everything up and think happy thoughts. Besides, the second I’m strapped in and moving, I heat back up.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    I use a mixture of heated gear by Firstgear, Powerlet, Warm & Safe — Warm & Safe is the OEM for all three.

    After years of doing the multiple layers, balaclavas, Windstopper chest-plate/collars, thick gloves, glove liners, etc — now all I do is wear whatever lightweight longsleeve I happen to have on, underneath my heated liner and a regular motorcycle jacket, and don my heated gloves. (If I’m traveling more than 1 hour from home, I pack a thick, polypro thermal sweater in my topcase in case my liner fails.)

    Instead of spending $300 on layers of Patagonia, just buy yourself the heated liner and gloves. You’ll be much warmer and therefore much happier — and ultimately safer.

  • Kentaro rides a NRS and a GSA


  • sam howe

    snow shops have these small little satchels which you can stick to you socks to keep warm i used them on a below zero ride here in australia they worked a treat!

  • Jason

    Looks stupid on a sportbike, but a sheepskin seat pad is awesome if you can’t do a heated seat. Sheds water pretty well too, and has the side bonus of keeping your seat cool in the summertime. But if you’ve got the $$$, a heated seat is pure lux.

  • AHA

    3 rules: Good kit, good kit, good kit.

    These days there’s plenty of technical clothing out there – breathable, wicking etc etc.

    That said, I always think heated clothing is God’s way of telling you to take the car (or Tube or bus.)

  • Rob Dabney

    I agree that the heated vest is the best heated gear you can buy. It is small and easy to store away on your bike for when you need it. The vest heats your core and that heat emanates out to your extremities. The vest is all you need to stay warm. Here are more tips for how to keep warm on a motorcycle.