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Winter riding: Clothing

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by Jaqhama, May 31, 2006.

  1. Winter riding: Clothing.

    I've had a few new Sydney Netriders ask me about how to keep warm on the bike during the winter months.
    So I thought I would put up some suggestions and a few tricks learned over the years.
    Some of them might seem a little odd, but I listened to older riders when I was starting out and their advice always stood me in good stead.

    Keeping warm:
    The blood flows close to the skin around the neck, wrist and ankles. I normally find if I can keep these parts of me warm and dry I feel a lot more comfortable.
    The chest also takes the brunt of the cold wind flowing over you, so that's another part of the body that needs to be kept insulated.

    Firstly it's worth noting that leather does not keep you warm.
    In the summer it's ok, in fact it's often too hot. But once the temperature starts to drop a leather jacket is not going to be warm enough without some other piece of kit under or over it.

    For those who can afford it the obvious answer is simply to go to a motorcycle shop and buy a Dri-Rider winter suit, the jacket and pants. (or a similar brand of clothing).
    I always buy one size larger than I would normally wear, this allows you to wear thicker clothes underneath.
    Always buy one size larger pants, bike pants are notorious for riding up your leg if they fit perfectly, before you actually sit on the bike.

    To keep my neck warm I simply wear a bandana, it keeps the wind off my neck and I often do up the helmet strap over the bandana so that it stays underneath my chin.
    A scarf will also work, I only use the bandana because I don't like the bulk of a scarf.
    NOTE: The scarf needs to be wrapped once around the neck and then both ends tucked right down inside the jacket, then when the jacket is done up there is no chance of the scarf ends coming out, blowing around as you ride, and perhaps obscuring vision, or worse still getting caught on something you pass by!
    Some bike shops now sell neck warmers, but again they are too bulky for me.
    Some bike shops also sell thin balaclavas to wear under the helmet.

    My typical clothing for a day of winter riding is as follows:

    Dri-Rider jacket and pants. Bandana. Fleece vest over a thick jersey or sweatshirt. T-Shirt. (often a long sleeved one).

    Cord Jeans. Winter bushwalking socks. Heavy duty combat or bike boots.
    Gore-Tex ski gloves.

    You can also buy and wear thermal t-shirts, thermal socks and thermal long johns.

    If I do something like the Casper rally at Lithgow or the TTT rally at Wombeyan Caves I do wear the thermal gear.

    One of coldest places I ever rode was in Northern Ireland, in the summer. The wind along the coastal areas was incredibly cold.
    The wind chill factor is what makes the big difference when riding in the winter. Walking around you'll be fine, once you start riding things cool down quickly.

    Gloves: For me it's Gore-Tex ski gloves. Even they don't keep my hands warm after a couple of hours on the bike, but it?s bearable.
    Some motorcycle specific gloves now come with various gore-tex or similar linings.
    Some bike shops now sell padded muffs that fit over the handlebars of the bike, keeping the wind and rain completely off of your hands.
    The majority of UK bike couriers always use them.
    As do many ATV'ers in America.

    If it's raining and you have low handlebars you will need to slip the gloves under the cuff of the jacket, this stops the rain flowing down the sleeves and getting inside the gloves.

    Boots: I hear there are now bike boots on the market that are 100% waterproof. None of mine ever have been.
    But if you feel better with motorcycle specific bike boots then that?s what you should be looking at.
    If it looks like I'll be riding in the rain all day I just pull on a pair of Blundstone PVC gum boots. (Also available now with steel toecaps.)
    They are 100% waterproof and with thermal or bushwalking loop pile socks warm enough for hours on the bike.
    A couple of mining company suppliers now make reinforced and protective gum boots, with toe, ankle, heel and shin protection.
    I'm looking at getting a pair of these shortly. They retail for about a $120.
    I also have a pair of combat boots that with dubbing (and/or) waterproofing treatment stay dry for some hours.

    Alternatives for those who cannot afford any or all of the above.

    I understand that biking is expensive and that not everyone, especially new riders, can always afford to keep paying out for summer, intermediate and winter gear.

    Lets assume you have a pair of bike boots, bike gloves, Draggin Jeans, and a leather jacket.

    When I started riding we had no winter specific Dri-Rider type gear.
    Waxed cotton Belstaff's was all you could get.

    I still see a lot of UK riders doing as follows?

    Go to a Disposal store and buy one of the European winter army jackets/parkas.
    Buy one large enough to fit comfortably over your leather jacket.
    The heavy duty ones from the UK or Europe will keep you warm on the bike. They are not that waterproof however. They sell for between $40 to $80 dollars when last I looked.
    They do not need to be protective in terms of a get-off, you will still have your leather jacket underneath. But they are well padded and that cannot but help.

    A pair of corduroy or thick cargo pants, worn over the top of your Draggins will also add extra warmth.

    For rain gear the cheap ($40) Dri-Rider rubber unlined rain pants and jackets do a wonderful job of keeping the water out, they also keep you warm because the cold wind is not cutting thru your leather jacket and your Draggins.

    Emergency insulation:

    A newspaper wrapped around your chest works amazingly well. Newspaper insulates.

    Heavy duty garbage bags can be utilized as a vest or rain pants.
    Just cut holes in the appropriate places.

    Supermarket type plastic bags, pulled over socks, before putting boots on, will keep your feet dry if your boots are not waterproof.

    Rubber dishwashing gloves, worn under leaking bike gloves will keep your hands dry and a little warmer.

    I have worn industrial, acid resistant, rubber gloves over my summer bike gloves when riding all day in the rain.
    A bit bulky they do keep hands 100% dry.

    Motorcycle shops also sell rubber slip-on gum boots that you pull over the top of your bike boots.
    They do work well but the soles often wear out quickly with continual day to day use.

    Extra info:

    If you can afford it, and want to be very warm, and very dry, nothing beats a Ski-mobile suit from North America or Canada.

    You can also buy electrically heated vests and gloves from some suppliers, they either plug into a power-point on the bike or run off batteries. Warm as toast all day.

    Some Euro bike shops also sell electrically heated bike boots (The Swedish Army uses them in the winter.) I have heard good reports on them, but they are obviously not cheap.

    Woolen clothing retains body heat even when wet, anything cotton does not.
    It?s why Sherpa's will refuse to take you hiking in Nepal in the winter if you insist on wearing that material.

    You may notice in disposal stores that all Russian Army winter clothing is wool based, even the shirts. It pays to look at what people in cold temperature climes wear in their winters.

    I knew a guy who used to wear a wet-suit vest and pants under his Dri-Rider gear, he swore it kept him warm all day. I have not tried it myself.

    That?s about all I can think of at the moment.
    If anyone can add to the list please feel free.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. that's horrific!! you would be sweating like..like a person in a wetsuit on dry land! :?

    *cheapo thermal pants under my draggins and my riding boots
    *heated grips and my summer gloves
    *a few more layers under the jacket than normal
    *$12 neckwarmer from rays outdoors

    with those i can withstand almost any very cold temp. of all of the above the neckwarmer is the most important, as it blocks the cold wind from the exposed part of the body, the neck and chin.
  3. In regards to the wet-suit...

    :LOL: I'll re-phrase my original comment...I never really wanted to try it myself. :LOL:
  4. Take note also that some people feel the cold a lot more than others.
    I don't even think it's got a lot to do with body weight, high/low fat content, muscle mass etc.
    I think it's the individual.
    Just because one bloke swears he can ride the whole winters day in just a jacket and jeans does not mean the other chap will be able to.
    (Or blokesses as the case may be.)
    If you know you feel the cold make sure you take some extra gear along.
    I'd rather shed some clothing if I get too warm, as opposed to not having the extra clothing if it gets too cold for me.
  5. For cash-strapped people I shall give you a great tip...go to the local Cash Converters store, most of them now have a motorcycle clothing section.
    Two of my mates picked up really nice leather jackets for about $100.
    Lin found an almost brand new Dri-Rider winter suit for $220.
    In the local bike shop the entire suit was about $500.
    In Sydney the MCA motorcycle stores often sell up older stock for half price.
  6. 2 things,
    do NOT wear a scarf on the bike, it can get caught if you have an accident,
    also steel caps are bad, they can be crushed and cut toes off.
  7. I'm not sure about the steel caps. I think they're okay as long as there's a rating on it (ie. not just some cheap@$$ steelcaps)

    Mythbusters did a segment on this and pretty much proved that there's no way the steelcaps could "accidently" be crushed to cut off your toes unless the item doing it was very sharp (like a knife, and cut through) and you had quite a bit of pressure, which will already have crushed and destroyed your feet/ankle anyways.

    But anyways, I should stop thinking about using the scarf. :p
  8. If I have an accident so bad that a scarf worn under my jacket gets caught, I don't think I'll be worried about damage to the scarf.

    Any impact on your toes sufficient to collapse steel toe caps and amputate toes is very likely to be one where you would be saying bye bye to your toes anyway. I'd rather take my chances trying to get toes reattached than trying o get a crushed foot reshaped.
  9. As an alternative to specific bike gear, keep in mind that bicycle riders are in the same boat and have their own range and manufacturers. Coming from a cycling background I found many of my winter clothing items were very useful on the bike, particularly as they are made alot thinner than much other stuff I've seen. Plenty of online stores to.
    I got thermal pants and T's from Target for $16ea.
    For your neck just get a regular skivvy and don't roll the neck down, it goes right up to the top of my neck and keep it quite warm, and is thin to wear under everything else.

    In an emergency- keep a piece of bubble wrap in the bikes storage compartment that will cover your chest, works a treat, just like the newspaper, but will keep there for ages if you don't use it. Glad wrap between two pairs of socks ia also great for the feet. I have a very light weight pair of full finger gloves(BBB brand) that will fit under my motorcycle gloves for extra warmth.
  10. I'm not subscribing to that steel cap myth anymore 'myth busted'!
  11. ya ho bo :LOL:

    I also reccomend keeping surgical or dishwashing gloves to chuck over your bike gloves to keep them dry... yeah you look like a nerd but you dont have to dry your gloves out ;)
  12. This is a good tip. I've shoved newspaper down my front on numerous occasions and it works a treat.
  13. I put them under.. it stops wind chill and water from skin contact. As for scarfs its personal prefference yes they can get caught on somthing if you crash but if you crash the scarf is the least of you worries the b-double is. :wink:

    Blocking wind chill is the problem with cold weather riding, you either layer or die of hypothermia. I ususaly wear thermals then a bonds vest. The extra bonds vest seems to slow the air and create a pocket between it and the thermals... Then its a shirt, turtle neck and sometimes a scarf... The its the obligitory jeans thick wooly socks and boots or ride shoes..

    With cold hands I subscribe to the sugi glove theory in rain... but I also have a set of woolen cutt off gloves that i sometime wear under my ride gloves. These tip less gloves are both good and bad. Good they keep the base of your hand warm and then the wam blood can get to you finger tips. Also good your touch sensitivity isnt impared when breaking or using the clutch. Bad side is they make the base of you hands fatter so you squeese you grip a little more to compress the under glove to get to you same grip position.. You end up with bigger fore arms as a result and untill you used to them a bit of soreness but on morning rides and all day rides I wouldnt be without them.
  14. LOL, I think the problem is the damage a caught scarf could do to *you*. But in any case, neck warmers are a cheap and useful substitute. Also balaclavas, they are even better in a way because they don't have the tendency to slide down - your whole neck is always completely covered. And having another layer of material under the helmet is nice, too. Keeping warm is always about the layers!
  15. For confirmation of this theory, refer to "The Incredibles" DVD, and the situation with superhero's and cape's! :LOL:
  16. Well I have only been riding for a short while but here are my observations, now remember I commute everyday regardless of weather and it gets pretty damn cold and wet down here at 5.00am :shock:

    I wear draggins, vented leather jacket, A* goretex boots, A* SP2 gloves.

    Legs, draggins I have worn long cycling leggings under them and they keep me warm down to about 10 degrees. A few weeks ago I found a pair of Motodry waterproof pants with zip out quilting on special for $100, before that I wore a cheap pair of plastic overpants they were OK but started falling aprat wearing them everyday. Pop these over my draggins and toasty warm and very waterproof.

    Body, jacket with underneath singlet, long skivvy rolled up to protect neck, motocross fox jersey cuts a lot of wind out and over the top a Rjays $25 rain coat, waterproof and warm.

    Feet, A* Goretex boots are 100% waterproof, luv em. When really cold explore socks over normal sox.

    Spent $20 on a Rjays neoprene mask, keeps my chin warm and tucked into the skivvy works pretty well for the neck as well. Used to wear a scarf but found it too hard to do an effective headcheck and it also pushed my helmet forward.

    hands my bloody gloves are cold, need to get warmer ones or hand warmer. If it is I raining pop a pair of surgical gloves underneath works a treat.

    So the trick is keep the bloody wind out and stay dry.

    I like this approach as I still wear all my protective gear under the other stuff.
  17. i'm not rich by anyones standards, but i feel a few hundred bucks spent on decent winter gear is a pretty damn worthwhile investment :? proper winter jacket, pants gloves and a neckwarmer should see you with change from $500 and will keep you toasty through some of the colder frostbite runs (at most you might need to wear 2 pairs of socks and a light jumper in the middle of june at 6 in the morning)

    i guess if you really cant afford it then wrap yourself up as best you can, but i've been there too and its a real pain in the arse compared to just wearing the right gear.
  18. I agree.
  19. I had not given a thought to the dangers of a scarf on the bike...I had assumed everyone would be smart enough to tuck the scarf well down inside the jacket.

    I shall edit my post to allow for this oversight, just in case.

    I love the bubble wrap idea, great stuff.

    In humour: If you break down in the middle of nowhere you can spend the time reading the newspaper you had stuffed down ya jacket. You can also use it to start an emergeny survival fire. :LOL:

    Once you have popped all the little bubbles in the bubble wrap it's back to twiddling your thumbs I guess? :LOL:

    I used to shove a bike magazine down me jacket if I had to use extra insulation. Best of both worlds there. :LOL: :LOL:
  20. If Lin had anywhere near $500 we would not have been looking for gear for her in the local cash converters lads.

    To a lot of people that's a hefty sum to be spending on bike gear.
    Especially single people in low income jobs.
    They have already had to pay for the learner course, buy a bike, buy a helmet, gloves and probably a leather jacket.
    A lot of new riders give no thought to the winter months, so they are caught by surprise at how cold it can be on the bike.
    It's why I posted up alternatives for those less well off.

    Motorcycle clothing has gotten outrageously expensive.
    I'm going to let the cat right out of the bag now...this is shocking but true and some people are going to freak.

    I did a favour for a bloke who opened a new bike shop near me last year.
    He was was very grateful, I happened to mention I would soon need a new winter jacket. He offered me one off the shelf, an Oxford Nylon outer, interior padded lining, made in China one,...for $85.
    I questioned whether he could afford to sell it to me so cheaply...he responded by informing me that they bought them in bulk for $50 each.
    The shelf price on the jacket was almost $300.
    I can only assume that is the normal rate for most bike shops that buy the made in China synthetic clothing.

    You don't want to know how much the shop payed for the pants.

    So next time you go into a bike shop and notice that they have last winter's jackets discounted at below half of the original price you will realise they are still not losing out on their profit margin!

    As another mate at a country bike dealership once told me, bloke walks in looking for bike clothing and the manager starts rubbing his hands together in glee.

    People at other shops I have mentioned all of the above to use the same old excuse...we have a very small market for bike gear here in Oz and the prices have to relect the lack of sales volume. :roll:

    It's why many of us order bike gear cheaper online from the USA now. :cool: