Summer Motorcycle Gear For Comfortable Hot Weather Travel
With summer comes the opportunity for a cross-country motorcycle trip. There is no better way to experience America than rolling through it on a motorcycle, and this year there have been unusually high waves of riders hitting the road.
The improvement in gas prices from the last couple of years should also likely contribute to more motorcycles on the road as well as just more overall travel from those who have been financially affected by the recession over those years.
While riding in hot weather can be enjoyable, if you don’t take care of yourself, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real possibilities.
To ride comfortably anywhere during summer, you will need some form of cooling equipment for your head as well as coverings for your lower legs and feet; we’ll look at these items and some other tricks and tips to keep you as cool as possible.
The first two items mentioned have helped me maintain healthy skin all summer long on my face, ears, and neck without breaking the bank. Now let’s talk about some other ways to help manage heat on your body:
I am a big fan of mesh gear as it allows for maximum ventilation and cooling. If you already own a textile or leather jacket, shirt, sweater, pants, etc., chances are it has some form of mesh built in to help promote airflow.
I have found my textile jackets with a couple of strategically placed vents under the arms which allow me to keep a comfortable temp without getting too cold or hot.
It never hurts to have a few extra layers of clothing just in case though. This is where an inexpensive pair of cargo shorts come into play:
So what do you look for when shopping for summer motorcycle gear?
Well, that is completely up to you! As long as your brain can function enough to keep yourself safe while riding, then it’s all good.
And if you’re like me, I’d rather sweat my ass off than feel constrained in uncomfortable gear.
No matter how many articles I read saying the opposite…(Okay, maybe not overheating THAT bad.) But seriously, comfort comes first when choosing gear for any style of riding.
Sure some will say if they were out on a track day or racing their bike then it’s a different story…(I’m usually not one to argue with authority figures.)
But let’s face it, if you’re reading this blog, chances are you ride your bike for fun or commuting purposes. Maybe to pick up ice cream at the store or grab some food from the Chinese restaurant.
Here is a list of my favorite gear that I feel is great for summer riding:
No matter what type of riding shoe you go with, it should be well constructed and comfortable. For those who don’t like boots because they feel too heavy and hot. I would recommend an over ankle boot that zips up as opposed to laced-up motorcycle shoes.
When choosing a boot for summer riding, remember that there needs to be enough airflow to keep your feet from feeling like they’re in a wet diaper.
Suede and full-grain leather boots tend to hold in moisture and sweat faster than other types of materials such as nylon or mesh. It’s also good if the sole is made of a material that isn’t going to soak up water along with any dirt you might encounter on your bike.
Taller boots provide more protection when out riding but can make less room for ventilation so this should also be considered when shopping around.
If you have had an injury before while wearing tall boots, it’s best to bring the old pair so you can try them on together while standing up. You want something sturdy yet comfortable enough to not cause aches and cramping.
Just like with boots, you want something that is well-padded to protect your hands if you do happen to fall or lay your bike down.
The fingers should be short enough so the knuckle protection doesn’t interfere with shifting and braking.
Remember that leather is more protective than nylon but can tear up faster during a crash so this should also be considered when choosing colors and what material feels comfortable for you.
Gauntlet-style gloves keep the wind from blowing up your sleeves and give better wrist support as opposed to fingerless gloves which allow for less padding for those important parts of the hand that come in contact with asphalt during a fall.
In addition, it’s nice to have some reflective panels sewed into the gloves so other drivers, police, or traffic control officers can see you easier during dusk or nighttime riding.
My personal favorite is to use summer mesh-style gloves because they offer more ventilation than leather ones and keep my hands cooler on long rides.
I like to wear them with thick padded motorcycle half-finger gloves underneath for better protection.
If it’s raining, bring your rainproof glove inserts along with you; sometimes finding that perfect fit means bringing all kinds of different gear with you if one type doesn’t cut it!
Anything slick enough not to stick will do just fine unless you live in a place where it’s known for torrential downpours during certain seasons. Sometimes jeans are fine so long as you don’t mind the heavyweight of waterlogged denim on your legs.
For those more daring riders, you can try out some of the motorcycle chaps or pants available to keep yourself protected from both wind and water while still allowing for better ventilation in hotter weather.
Armored riding jeans are also becoming increasingly popular with commuters because they offer good protection when commuting but are stylish enough to wear when heading into work for a meeting.
Again, it’s all about finding something that works well with your style of riding.
There are jackets with cool colors and graphics for comfort, utility, or casual street riding while others have lots of pockets plus reflectors for nighttime visibility if you happen to be wearing one in an environment with high traffic.
If you like to commute in colder or rainy weather, it’s nice to have a waterproof and windproof jacket that’s lightweight enough for layering underneath when the temperature drops even further plus reflective panels all over so you can be seen better by drivers and other cyclists.
Padded jackets are great for protecting your body from the strain of heavy gear and armor is also available in jackets or sewn into armored vests if you prefer something less bulky than a riding jacket.
It’s best to choose something not much heavier than chino material because they’re usually ventilated well enough to keep off the heat while offering paddings where needed such as knees and hips.
There are lots of styles available whether you want something long with ankle zippers or capri pants.
Some Other Gears You Need to Keep While Riding
The first thing you need is a good quality full brimmed hat (preferably one that is ventilated on top).
I have been using a Carhartt Sandstone Beanie for about five years now; it’s super comfortable, breathable, and provides great sun protection. This is my go-to item for riding in the summer.
For cold weather, you can’t beat this hat with ear flaps to keep your ears warm. It works great for summer too, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to hear what’s going on around you; thus the need for one of these other options:
Next up are some good quality over-the-ear fabric sun blockers which provide excellent ventilation while still protecting your ears from harmful rays (UV-rays cause skin cancer after all).
I’ve used the SOLO SHOT mentioned below for several years now and have found it to be perfect for motorcycle riding.
The only thing I don’t particularly like about the SOLO SHOT is that it does not provide full ear protection. Thus if you are wanting maximum protection from UV rays you will want something more like what you see in the photo above or this set of fabric sun blockers.
These are comfortable enough to wear with a helmet as well as on bareheaded rides. If your budget allows, there is nothing wrong with getting both of these options!