It is June in Texas. Temperatures are already hitting the upper 90′s for my commute home and soon they will be in the triple digits. While you may not live in an area that gets as hot as TX you may want to continue riding through the summer months and it is important to understand how to stay cool.
For the motorcyclist there is always the choice between protection and comfort. One could always ride in shorts and a t-shirt in order to stay cool, but one spill on the highway could leave scars from your poor decision. Leather offers great protection but if you wear that in triple digits you will be baked before you get too far.
I ride year around if the roads are clear and I have found a few tips that help me beat the summer heat in TX.
1. Ride with a good quality riding jacket that has mesh for ventilation. There are a lot of motorcycle jackets on the market that are made for riding in the heat and offer great protection in case of a spill. [amazon_link id="B007GRSV9W" target="_blank" ]Tourmaster makes a great jacket with plenty of ventilation.[/amazon_link] I like Tourmaster products because they offer a lot of bang for the buck. Riding with a quality jacket like this is not much different than riding with short sleeves. The jacket allows a lot of air to pass through and will keep you relatively cool. In my experience, I can ride with nothing more that a good mesh jacket as long as the temperatures stay below 100.
2. If the temperatures are reaching 100 or more it is time to use evaporative cooling. There are [amazon_link id="B002BDU3QA" target="_blank" ]cooling vests[/amazon_link] that provide a lot of extra cooling when the temperatures get even hotter. These vests when soaked in water are a life saver. They will keep you cool on a motorcycle for several hours and all it takes is another soaking to recharge the cooling properties. I wrote a full review on my cooling vest a couple of years ago, I still use that same vest, it was a great investment. Using a vest like this in conjunction with a well ventilated jacket is about all I need to stay comfortable in moving traffic.
3. Another great addition to hot weather riding is having a good [amazon_link id="B001FZOTGA" target="_blank" ]wicking t-shirt[/amazon_link] as a base layer. These shirts take perspiration and make it work for you by lifting it from the skin allowing it to work as its own evaporative cooling device. You can also go the extra mile by wearing a pair of[amazon_link id="B001V9X9I4" target="_blank" ]Alpinestars Summer Tech Performance Boxers[/amazon_link]. Wicking boxers will help keep the backside dry and prevent “monkey butt” that is common on long distance rides where moisture builds up due to sweat.
4. If you keep your torso cool you will feel much better riding in the heat. But, if you want to keep your head cool as well you can use [amazon_link id="B0031BTFMY" target="_blank" ]evaporative cooling under your helmet[/amazon_link] too. These skull caps are soaked in water just like the vests and provide a ton of extra cooling for your noggin. Used under a helmet that has good ventilation like my Shoei RF1100 you can stay very cool no matter what the temperatures do.
Last summer the heat in North Texas was blistering for almost a solid month. My afternoon commutes were in temperatures around 110F. Using these three pieces of gear I was able to stay cool in one of the most brutal summers in recent history. If you are riding a bike to save money on gas, these pieces will pay for themselves in just a few trips to the pump and will allow you to ride your motorcycle through the heat of the summer.
If you have ideas or suggestions on things you use to stay cool on a motorcycle I would love to hear about it, leave a comment below.