What to Wear When Riding a Motorcycle in Summer
Warm, sunny weather is ideal for going on a motorcycle ride. However, many motorcycle riders become concerned when they start thinking about what to wear during those summer months when the heat becomes unbearable. Experts agree that it’s irresponsible to wear flip-flops/sandals and shorts when you’re riding. Still, many people say they prefer this over sweating half to death in their leathers. Of course, regardless of the time of year that you are riding, safety should always be your primary concern.
Here are a few tips on what to do and wear when riding a motorcycle in summer and how you can still enjoy the ride.
Keep yourself hydrated
“Heat exhaustion” is a heat-related illness that may happen after you’ve been exposed to high temps for long periods of time; typically, it is also accompanied by dehydration. Since heat exhaustion includes both water and salt depletion, make sure that you are drinking water as well as sports drinks and consuming salty snacks. The best way to drink water while you are riding is to wear a hydration backpack. These backpacks contain a water bladder and drinking tube that you can use on the go, even if you’re wearing a full-face Motorcycle Helmetz.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Before you sit back and enjoy that glass of wine or beer, make sure that you are done riding for the day. Alcohol will have an effect on your ability to ride and will accelerate the dehydration process. Even if you’re only drinking after you ride, keep in mind that it can also cause you to be dehydrated and hungover the next day, which means you are at an immediate disadvantage. While it’s not clear whether or not caffeine causes dehydration, most people would agree that water and an occasional sports drink are the best ways to combat dehydration.
Wear base layers that wick away sweat
Your body temperature regulates through the process of sweat. As the sweat evaporates, your skin is cooled. The hotter you get, the more you sweat, which is another reason why you must make an effort to remain hydrated. When you wear synthetic base layers, moisture is wicked away from your skin, increasing the effectiveness of evaporative cooling.
Wear full coverage clothing
In the middle of the summer, most people would prefer to wear shorts, flip flops, and t-shirts or even tank tops. However, these clothes don’t have any place on the motorcycle, unless you wear them under armored riding apparel and carry your flip flops in your bag to change when you get to your intended location. Keep in mind that there is no one that plans to crash, but accidents do happen, so you want to make sure you are protected just in case.
Wear a neck wrap
In addition to full gear, you should wear an evaporative cooling neck wrap. They contain polymer crystals that absorb water which is then slowly released over a period of time, usually several days. You can wear a neck gaiter or bandana, but these will dry out much more quickly. Plus, a neck wrap will keep your neck from getting sunburned.
Don’t ride during the hottest part of the day
The hottest part of the day is typically between 12 PM to 5 PM. If you can, try to plan your ride for the cooler parts of the day—early in the morning or evening. Get up early, grab a cup of coffee and light breakfast, and then go for a ride. Rides in the early evening are also quite enjoyable. However, you must keep in mind that dusk and dawn are the times when wildlife are more active.
Think things through
If you are riding and you start to feel dizzy and/or lightheaded, or you start to have cramps or a headache, or if your skin becomes suddenly cool and clammy, you could be experiencing heat exhaustion. This can ultimately end in heat stroke, which can be fatal. Don’t try to push through it—pull over as soon as you can and figure out how you can cool down.
Finally, while it’s true that motorcycle rides can be lots of fun, sometimes, you just need to take a day or so off. The long, hot summer days on the bike can leave you much more dehydrated, fatigued, and sore than a long day of riding in cool weather. As Americans, we’re always on the go, looking for the next thing, but sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself, and those that are riding with you, is just sit back and relax for a bit.
The warm, sunny days are perfect for heading out on a long motorcycle ride. However, it can also be a dangerous if you’re not careful. Keep these tips in mind when it comes to what to wear when riding a motorcycle in summer and how to keep cool when it’s hot.