What’s the best thing about summer? Summer vacations and more hours of daylight so you can spend more time on your motorcycle. What’s the worst thing about summer? The scorching heat. If the last few weeks of record spring temperatures are any indication of what our summer weather is going to be like, we are in for a world of hurt heat.
If you are ill-prepared with inappropriate motorcycle gear, riding in extreme heat can be very taxing as the sun blares down on you like an ant under a magnifying glass. With each passing mile and every bead of sweat your internal gas tank slowly creeps towards empty as your energy slips away and you roll closer and closer towards exhaustion.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. By simply donning some well-ventilated riding gear and making sure you stay hydrated, traversing an all-day ride through the sunburnt Las Vegas desert-scape without frying yourself into a crispy pork rind can be possible. Below are ten items that can make a hot summer’s day motorcycle ride a much more manageable experience.
Now you might not typically consider a full face motorcycle helmet if you know you’re going to be cruising in extreme heat, but one of the best things you can do to help conserve energy is block out the sun, and a full face helmet can do just that. The great thing about the Horizon Helmet is that it has several large mesh inserts right in the chin bar area. By opening the vents behind the mesh you can allow a large amount of wind to blow through and hit you right in the face. Additional forehead vents help draw in air across the top of your head and large exhaust ports at the rear enable for continuous air flow from front to back. Internal channeling of the outer shell further optimizes ventilation. Comprised of a fiberglass and carbon construction, the shell is extremely lightweight so it won’t stress your neck muscles and zap your energy. An additional benefit of this helmet is the internal sun shade which can provide extra eye protection on extremely bright days.
2. GMAX GM35 Full Dress Half Helmet
If you’re looking for maximum airflow to the dome without going lidless, a half helmet is your best bet. The GMax Full Dress Half Helmet is a pretty good choice because in addition to letting a large amount of air hit your face and most of your head, this half motorcycle helmet has two vents incorporated into the forehead section to allow air to hit the covered portion of your head as well. Inside, sweat and moisture is pulled away from your head via the Coolmax interior. If you ride in the morning when it’s a bit cooler you’ll appreciate the neck curtain which covers the ears with soft material. The neck curtain also has built-in speaker pockets so you can add some tunes to your ride (you have to provide your own speakers). Then when the temps really heat up you can unzip and remove the neck curtain to allow air to flow all around the lower portion of your head.
Not sure why Icon calls this a “jersey”, it’s really a jacket—actually it’s more than that. For ultimate airflow this motorcycle jacket features a complete mesh exterior. This jacket offers so much ventilation it’s like wearing a screen door—except with Icon’s Fighter Mesh material it’s way more durable and abrasion resistant than a screen. Lined with D30 CE certified impact protectors in the shoulders, elbows, and back and designed for a relaxed fit this jacket offers a mix of comfort and protection. But the one feature that really shines about the Spaztyk is the fact that the sleeves zip off at the elbows allowing for superior ventilation while still offering a good amount of protection around your core and upper arms. For the discriminate sport bike rider that likes to match his/her riding gear with their motorcycle, the jacket is available in a variety of color ways to match the big four Japanese motorcycle manufacturers color schemes. And for the cruiser guys there’s the tried and true black and grey color combination.
Female riders will appreciate Scorpion EXO’s Vixen jacket not just because it looks great but because it has been specifically tailored to fit the frame of a women’s body. Comprised of a mix between 1.2mm and 1.4mm top grain leather and loaded with removable armor in the elbows, back, and shoulders you might think this is a heavy or cumbersome jacket, but it’s actually lightweight and very flexible for easy articulation and long distance riding comfort. The inside features a KwickWick II moisture wicking liner that will help draw perspiration away from the body. With large sections of perforated leather filling in the front, rear torso, and shoulder area, the jacket acts like fan allowing a steady stream of breeze to blow through. If it gets too hot the liner can be removed for even better ventilation.
For those that prefer to do their warm weather riding in a motorcycle vest, you’ll be really interested in River Road’s Ruffian Vented Leather vest. The fact that this is a vest means it will provide plenty of airflow around your arms to help keep you cool, but it comes with additional cooling features such as perforated panels in the front and back and a mesh lining on the inside. A heavy-duty zipper down the center keeps the vest in place at highway speeds, while adjustable Velcro straps on the sides provides, for a detailed fit and gives the vest a more aggressive look compared to traditional motorcycle vests.
Finding a good pair of motorcycle pants can often be a pretty tough task. While most motorcycle jeans come with built-in armor protection and high-strength materials, they’re usually heavy and turn your lower body into a sauna in warm weather. These City X Riding Jeans from Motto Wear are made from high-quality durable denim, have a soft Kevlar lining in the critical impact areas, and come with removable/adjustable armor. However, even with the armor in place these jeans feel much lighter than most other motorcycle jeans and look and feel good off the bike.
Tour Master is known for exceptionally well-made motorcycle gear that offers comfort as well as protection and these Tracker Air Pants are no exception. Ideal for when you’re going to be riding in extreme heat conditions, these motorcycle pants will definitely keep you cool with their big patches of mesh running up the legs. Featuring 600 Denier Carbolex panels, these pants are built to withstand the abuses of the open road but still provide easy movement and comfort in a variety of riding positions with stretch material in the inseam, elastic waistband with adjustable waist belts, and expansion panels for flexibility. When you get to your gas stop or decide to pull off the side of the road for a rest these pants can quickly and easily turn into cargo shorts simply by unzipping the lower leg sections.
Sweaty hands on a motorcycle ride sucks; you get that clammy feeling throughout your palms and finger tips and your hands end up stinking just as bad as your feet do at the end of the ride. You can combat swamp palms with these gloves from Alpinestars. A mix of highly breathable mesh material and smooth and supple goatskin leather, these motorcycle gloves enable massive air flow over the top of the hand and fingers while providing abrasion and impact protection around the knuckles and palms. Ergonomically designed for optimum comfort and easy manipulation of motorcycle hand controls, these gloves come in extremely handy when utilizing GPS devices and smartphones as the fingertips are touchscreen compatible.
Many cruiser and Harley-Davidson riders like to wear leather and everyone one knows hot weather and leather mix about as good as oil and water. Wearing leather motorcycle gloves in scorching temperatures can make your hands feel like they are in a sauna. But if you throw on these fingerless motorcycle gloves you can get the protection of leather without your fingers and hands overheating. The Tucson gloves allow your digits to feel the breeze and easily manipulate your hand controls and switches, additional venting is incorporated into the top of the hand via the perforated leather back section. And to help reduce vibration and ensure all day riding comfort, the palm section of these gloves have gel padding built into them.
Okay, so we’ve covered plenty of vented motorcycle riding gear to help keep you cool, but the other important thing to do when riding on a hot day is to stay hydrated. And you can do just that with the Hydropack from Fly Racing. You might be thinking, “who would want to add additional weight and another layer of material to your torso when it’s already hot?” Great question, however, this motorcycle hydration pack is super light and provides plenty of airflow with its mesh shoulder straps and narrow profile. Comprised of durable nylon you get the benefits of a backpack with its two external pockets to store snacks, keys, and other small personal items with the potentially life-saving feature of a 70 ounce bladder to carry water, sports drinks or whatever fluid you need to get you through your bicycle ride. For convenience this hydration pack comes with a long high-flow drink tube with a bite valve. The bite vale makes it easy to grab a quick drink without having to use your hands and fuss with a lid or shut off valve. The best thing about this pack is that it can help extend your motorcycle ride by keeping you hydrated between gas stops.