Friday, 3 December 2010

Keeping Warm on a Bike

I hesitate to suggest that anyone should even consider riding a motorcycle when there's snow or ice on the roads, but the last few mornings have prompted my - while de-icing the car - to think about advice on keeping warm while riding your motorcycle.

There's a couple of things to consider, which can be make a big difference to how warm and cosy you are while riding - but as with many aspects of riding it's planning that's really important:

First: in really bad conditions is your journey really important?  You and your boss may have different views on this!  So perhaps consider alternative transport, even to walking and thumbing a lift, or using public transport.  Often it's side roads that are difficult to ride along, especially if untreated and with little traffic, but bus routes may be clearer (and falling off a bus is less likely).

Next, if the roads are icy - but you think you can cope - what's the route going to be like?  Can you phone ahead for 'inside information'?  Perhaps there's a security guard or recepptionist who can tell you what the roads near work are like.  Or use the Highways Agency 'Traffic England' web site and view the information provided; OK, it's mainly only for motorways, but it can still give weather and temperature information, and camera images to see how clear the roads are.

The, keeping warm.  There are two aspects to this: keeping heat in and cold out!  Seal any gaps - especially try to avoid a breeze up you trouser legs!  If you have a velcro'd storm flap over a zip, make sure it's fully pressed down flat as it'll help keep the cold air out.  A neck tube or similar covers up that vulnerable gap between your jacket and helmet.  If you have a jacket with 'storm' cuffs (where the inner part of the cuff goes inside your glove and the outer layer goes over the glove) thaey can great for keeping the wind (and rain) out.

But you only have a limited amount of 'heat', so manage it the best you can.  If possible - considering theft issues etc. - try to load your bike then go back inside to get warmed up before riding off.  Perhaps hang your jacket over a radiator to get the lining warmed up so it's not your body heat warming it.  usual caveats apply to potential damage to leather should you over-heat leathers or leather gloves.

Finally: add heat.  The two most common ways of achieving this are with heated grips fitted to the bike or from heated clothing such as gloves or waistcoats.

I've used all three.  Be aware that you're likely to get some mick-taking - but 20 miles later when you're the only one who can ondo their helmet strap because you still have warm fingers then it's all worthwhile.

A couple of years ago I bought an EXO2 heated waistcoat, and it was a revelation.  Partly because of how it transformed winter riding (after the first ride using it, 122 miles in 2C temperatures, through sleet, drizzle and winds, with just one T & P stop, I arrived home with cold toes - I'd even switched off the heated grips!) but also because of raised awareness that it's impossible for a person to create the amount of heat which the jacket can - heat which must be being lost as you ride.

Thoroughly recommended!

So put one on your Christmas present list!


No comments: