Summer is most certainly upon us in the northern hemisphere. That means lounging at the beach, sunburns, and beautiful long days to enjoy rides on your motorcycle. Summer means different things depending on your geographic location, from triple-digit scorchers to high humidity levels that have you sweating before you even strap on a helmet.
Riders try various methods to coping with hot weather. Some people will always wear leather, some choosing mesh and textile in the hotter months, and others no gear at all, the latter being a really bad idea. Click here for an example from a video we recently posted to see how riding without gear can result in pain. There are plenty of ways for riders to keep cool during the summer that will help you stay in top condition and keep you comfortable and focused on riding. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to keep you cool as a cucumber during your summer rides.
I suffered through many years of wearing leather in Illinois’ hot and humid summers before realizing how much more comfortable a good textile mesh jacket could be. Textile mesh motorcycle gear is one way to keep you on your bike in the summer months while maintaining a level of protection. The model pictured above is the Dainese Sport Guard Jacket, which is essentially a mesh chassis containing CE-rated armor front, back, and sides. Mesh jackets and pants are a great way to give you airflow while bouncing around town on those hot, humid summer days. Nearly every major motorcycle gear manufacturer produces some sort of summer offering, so there are no shortage of options.
Cooling vests and other cooling accessories to be worn under ventilated jackets will help keep you comfortable in extreme temperatures. Most of these products work by soaking the garment in water, letting it absorb as much as possible, giving it a quick wringing out, and then donning and wearing under your ventilated outer gear. The Rev’It Cooling Liquid vest above claims a four- to six-hour period in which the product slowly lets water evaporate to help keep you cool. There are several manufacturers making similar items. Rev’It also offers cooling collars, wristbands, and zip-in liners for specific jackets.
Base layers are designed to keep you comfortable and dry. Many manufacturers make different base layers for different scenarios. We have seen moisture-wicking base layers produced by everyone from Nike and Adidas to Alpinestars and Dainese. With modern technology and research in textiles, we are now seeing base layers that can create a cooling effect as they evaporate moisture from your body, keeping you not just dry but also cool. Alpinestars Ride Tech Summer Long Sleeve base layer pictured above is offered in long sleeve tops, matching pants, and one-piece zip-up suits.
There is, of course, the old-fashioned way of staying cool. Motorcyclists and hikers have been doing it since the dawn of time, or nearly that long. Simply dousing yourself and/or gear in water and hitting the road. The idea works the same as our more technologically advanced options previously mentioned. While it won’t last as long before you dry and start warming back up, pending on your specific situation, it is an option anyone can use at little to no cost.
Hydration is essential to survival when riding in hot climates. Whether you are out on the trail or simply cutting through the desert on asphalt, it is imperative to stay hydrated, which will keep your brain from shrinking and causing poor decisions to be made. Hydration backpacks are a great way to keep yourself hydrated while on the bike. The Kriega Hydro 3 seen above is an option MO editor John Burns has previously used. Not a fan of wearing a backpack? Some tank bags offer a pocket for your hydration system.
Light-colored gear can save you a few degrees versus darker colors. White leather and white textile can be hard to keep clean, but it can be worth the hassle to stay a bit cooler in extreme conditions.
Gore-Tex is an amazing invention and used in all sorts of applications across many industries. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that just waterproof, and won’t I be hot? The short answer is no. Gore-Tex is designed to keep you comfortable in all climates. While Gore-Tex is a waterproof breathable membrane, it will also keep you from losing too much moisture in extreme conditions. Having too much air flow in extreme conditions may feel nice in the short term but can dehydrate you faster. Many manufactures use Gore-Tex in their touring and adventure gear such as the Klim Adventure Rally jacket pictured above.
Staying fully covered may sound counter-intuitive when dealing with scorching temperatures, but it will keep your precious skin from getting broiled and can help keep you from losing too much moisture as sweat evaporates. Both can make for an uncomfortable or life-threatening experience. Remember to apply sunscreen to any areas you can’t maintain coverage.
Taking a break can be just as important as anything else on this list. Professional athletes know that recovery is just as important as practice when it comes to performing their best. It is no different when it comes to riding. Taking a rest to give your body a break and time to take in some water and food can be essential. Find some shade and hydrate; your body will thank you.
A light-colored well-ventilated full-face helmet can provide some of the same benefits previously mentioned, such as keeping dehydrating air off of your face. It will also provide shade for your noggin, and a light-colored lid will suck in a bit less light and heat than a dark one. It and a tinted windscreen will also keep bugs and UV rays off of your face. Most importantly, it will provide protection for your brain in a fall.