We love to ride – that’s a given – and we’ve all heard it said that “it’s too hot for gear” – usually from someone riding in jeans and a T-shirt. Higher temperatures can make riding a lot less fun, but Cycle Gear believes that if “it’s too hot for gear”, then you have two choices: either you shouldn’t ride or – and this is our solution – you should get better gear. Here is some information that will help you make hot-weather riding much more fun:
Both mesh and perforated leather allow air to flow, however the leather option offers better abrasion resistance.
As many riders know, mesh or perforated leather jackets and pants allow the breeze to pass through, working in conjunction with your sweat to cool your body. If you choose gear that fits well (not too baggy) and features armor, you won’t compromise your protection, either. Just keep in mind that other parts deserve to breathe well and help shed heat, too:
Perforated or mesh gloves paired with perforated boots will keep your extremities nice and cool.
- Head – Your head is a natural radiator, which is why Mom told you to put on a hat when you were cold – to keep the heat in. You want heat to be able to get out and many helmets put a premium on venting.
- Back – Heat also escapes through your back and if you’re wearing a back protector (which we recommend), you can get one that is breathable.
- Hands – Sweaty palms are no fun, so consider gloves that are perforated, have venting or incorporate mesh in non-impact areas.
- Feet – The soles of your feet can let go of a lot of heat, too, so consider perforated or vented boots for your summer riding.
If this AMA Pro racer had a hydration pack, he wouldn’t have to pull over to re-hydrate.
Better in you than on you
Stay Hydrated. You’ll sweat, which means your body is losing critical moisture in the process of cooling you. Start the hydration process by drinking plenty of water the night before and continue in the morning before you ride. Then fill up your hydration pack and get going. You don’t have to stop for a drink – just stick the bite-valve under the chinbar of your full-face helmet and take a few sips every once in a while to keep a steady stream of hydration flowing.
Hydration drinks are great to mix in, too, and you can get packets of mix to carry along, but water is the critical component. Some hydration packs double as backpacks which will provide a place to hold powdered hydration mixes if you do not have any luggage on your bike.
On particularly hot days, you might also put ice cubes in your reservoir (but don’t freeze the whole thing).
Rock the vest (because on you helps, too)
When the temperature outside is hotter than your body’s temperature, things get interesting. Suddenly, passing through the (hot) air is like riding with a hair dryer blowing on you, and that air isn’t cooling you anymore – now it’s heating you up. The age-old trick of wetting your shirt under your jacket and your hair under your helmet certainly helps, but it only lasts for a little while. On triple-digit days, your shirt and hair will be dry before your next gas stop!
Soak the BiLT Cooling Vest in water for a couple minutes, and ride cool for a few hours.
On those days, it’s time for a cooling vest. Let it soak up some water and store it in a gallon baggy until you need it. When you start to heat up, put on the cooling vest under your mesh or perforated leather and enjoy your own personal swamp cooler, keeping your core temperature much lower than the outside temp.
Designed to wick moisture, this Heat-Out Crew Neck Tee will keep you nice and cool as the temperatures rise.
Adding a layer when it is hot out may seem counter intuitive, but a warm-weather specific base will cool you off much faster. Brands such as Heat-Out make specially designed base layers that will help you stay cool. They work by drawing perspiration away from your skin resulting in rapid evaporation to help keep you cool.
Heat-Out gear is also made with an antimicrobial treatment to help eliminate odor causing bacteria from forming.
Read the signs
No matter what you do, there’s still the danger of damage from heat. Watch for these signs and act on them as quickly as possible:
- dehydration – a lack of hydration resulting in headache, dry mouth, sleepiness/dizziness, dry skin, thirst.
- heat exhaustion – a result of your body overheating, leading to heavy sweating and a rapid pulse.
Both of these can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition that occurs when your body temperature reaches 104F or higher. If you ignored the earlier signs and get to this point, you’ll need immediate medical attention to prevent brain damage, organ failure or death.
Other helpful hints:
- Thin long-sleeved shirts will hold your sweat better than short-sleeve, keeping you cooler under your jacket
- Use a wet bandana on your neck to keep yourself cooler (and avoid sunburn)
- Ride early or late, when it’s cooler – take a long lunch to avoid the hottest part of the day
- When you stop for a break, stop in the shade of a tree
- Perforated leather (with a cooling vest!) is better in triple digits, as it blocks some of the “hair dryer” effect
- Make sure the cooling system of your motorcycle is in tip-top shape so you don’t get stranded