How To Stay Cool When Riding A Motorcycle?

warm weather riding

The summer is upon us. With that many riders are well into the season and are starting to notice that the summer heat is becoming an issue. Sure it’s great when you are sunning on the beach or sitting and enjoying a nice afternoon BBQ, but when you are covered head to toe in motorcycle gear it can start to be a bit much.

So, how can you stay cool when riding a motorcycle? The best way is to use summer specific motorcycle gear. This allows you to balance the safety needed with the comfort you want. Cooling vests, vented jackets, vented boots and motorcycle jeans are all great at keeping you cool when riding. Especially if you pair it with moisture wicking base layers.

That’s a fairly brief explanation, we only just scratched the surface. There are many other tips and tricks you can use to stay cool when riding a motorcycle. Read on to learn more.

Can I wear shorts while riding a motorcycle?

Shorts will provide absolutely zero protection in a crash. In a crash your legs and butt can take quite a beating. Serious abrasion, impacts, punctures, it’s all bad news for any unprotected and uncovered skin or flesh.

During a crash, the pavement will act like a giant sanding belt on any unprotected or exposed skin. All it takes is a few seconds sliding during a crash to quickly peel away your skin and start ripping away at your flesh. Not a pleasant experience, and most crashes will involve some sliding.

You should ask yourself; what seems worse? Having your legs a bit warm and sweaty for a couple hours while riding, or experiencing weeks or months of pain while you wait for skin to grow back due to road rash? Everything from water during a shower in the morning, to your blankets brushing against at night, will trigger your exposed nerve endings. Sending pain shooting through your body.

Even if you don’t slide when you crash, there are tons of other ways you can easily get injured in a wreck. A hot muffler will make quick work of your skin. Do you want that pressed firmly against your leg if the motorcycle falls on you? Probably not, unless you want some free scarification or branding work done.

Do yourself a favor and skip the shorts and wear gear, even when it’s hot out. Always follow the ATGATT rule.

What to wear when riding a motorcycle in hot weather?

There is lots of hot weather motorcycle gear which is designed to still give you the protection you need, and help to keep you cool at the same time.

If you are looking for some summer specific gear, here are a few items to look for:

Helmet with vents. Many modern helmets will have built in vents that you can open and close as needed. This is great because it allows you to open up the vents and improve airflow inside your helmet. Keeping you cool. Then when it gets colder or starts to rain, you can simply close the vents and keep the elements out.

Moisture wicking shirt. Moisture wicking shirts are great at helping your body keep cooler by pulling the moisture away from your body. If you pair this with a jacket that has vents, then you will be surprised how cool you actually will feel while riding. Even when it is hot out.

Vented boots. Again just like the helmet, vented boots have special vents in them to improve air flow and help keep you cooler and dryer. Combine these with a pair of moisture wicking socks, your feet will be cool and dry all day.

Vented jackets. A good summer motorcycle jacket will pair protection with comfort. One way manufacturers do this is adding a series of vents in the jacket. Open these up and the wind from riding and sweat will act like an air conditioner. Keeping you cool and comfortable while riding. You can further improve the cooling of the jacket by looking for lighter weight jackets, just make sure they still offer a sufficient amount of abrasion protection. Just because it’s hot out, doesn’t mean the pavement will be any kinder on your body.

Cooling vest. These are pretty cool. I’m actually thinking of trying one this season. It’s basically a vest that you soak in water and wear under your jacket. The water evaporates and keeps you cool while riding. If it works anywhere close to the damp bandana around the neck trick, I’ll be a happy camper.

Kevlar lined pants. While leather is my go to for gear. In the summer it can be a bit much. So if you have the resources and can afford to buy a separate set of summer specific gear, then picking up a pair of motorcycle jeans or other textile pants with padding inserts and kevlar woven in is a great choice. Many times they have vents built in as well, which is great at helping you stay cooler when riding. If you do find the right ones, you can get close to or the same amount of slide protection as leather. Not bad, so check it out.

Summer gloves. There are plenty of gloves geared towards hot summer days. Try to balance your comfort without skipping on protection. Fingerless gloves might make you look as cool as George Micheal, but they leave your fingers completely exposed.

What are some tips for staying cool while riding in hot weather?

Stay hydrated. This is probably one of the most important things to do when riding in the summer. Stay hydrated, get some water in you. When you get dehydrated, not only do you risk a heat stroke but your mental alertness and reaction times can be affected or diminished. This increases your chances of being involved in an accident. So drink some water.

Take breaks. It’s easy to get so caught up in the ride itself that you neglect stopping any more than absolutely necessary. Do yourself a favor, stop and give your body a break. Take the time to drink some water, eat some food. Take your helmet off and cool your head down a bit. Or whatever else you like to do to cool off a bit.

Try to skip riding during the midday temperature peak. If you can, try to avoid the hottest part of the day. If you are already on the road, try planning your lunch break or other sightseeing activity during this time. Then when the heat dies down a little, hop back on and enjoy the rest of your ride.

Wear moisture wicking base layers. These are great at improving your body’s natural cooling system. They work by pulling moisture and water away from your skin. Similar to what happens when sweat evaporates on your skin. When sweat evaporates, body heat is taken with it. That’s why sweat cools us down on hot days. These special base layers help better facilitate this.

Damp bandana around your neck. I love doing this when I ride in the summer. It works so well and doesn’t require any expensive gear to do. While there are products designed to do this, a basic bandana will work just as well. All you do is simply soak a bandana, wring out the excess moisture so it doesn’t run down your back and tie it around your neck. As soon as you come into contact with your neck, you’ll start to feel a cooling sensation radiate through your body.

Keep your skin covered from the sun. You might think that wearing shorts and t-shirts might be the absolute best way to stay cool on a motorcycle. It’s not. Sure you might feel cooler, but you are actually going to speed up dehydration and increase your chances of a sun stroke.

This has to do with how the body cools itself with sweat. Not to get overly complicated, but when you sweat heat is transferred from the body to the sweat and off the skin by evaporation.

When you are riding, this process is interrupted by the wind and the sweat is removed from the skin before the heat has transferred from your body to the sweat. This causes you to overheat and sweat more.

This increased sweat speeds up dehydration and the lack of proper cooling of your body increases the chances of a heat stroke. Another reason to follow the ATGATT rule.

Wear a cooling vest. Like the bandana around the neck trick, this works by improving the cooling effect caused by evaporation. I ride with a friend that uses one of these, seeing how much more comfortable he was last season, completely sold me on it. Definitely something I’m going to try out this season.

Try using a camelbak. If you are going to be on the road for long periods of time, this might be a great option to keep you hydrated. Basically it’s a backpack that you fill with water. It then has a long straw that you can run over your shoulder and up to your mouth.

So when you are riding, you can always get a nice refreshing sip of water. Keeping you properly hydrated, even when you forget to stop for a while. I’ve never tried one, but If I rode for long periods of time during the summer heat. I’d pick one up.

Final Thoughts:

While it might seem like a t-shirt flip flops and pair of shorts might be the best way to stay cool on a motorcycle, it’s not. In fact it’s actually going to speed up dehydration and increase your chances of a sun stroke. On top of that that you are going to have zero protection in case of a crash.

It’s your life, but I’d prefer to sweat a bit and not spend months in pain dealing with road rash or other injuries from a motorcycle crash. Regardless of what you chose to wear, gear or no gear, stay safe out there and remember to try to stay hydrated when riding in hot weather.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Until next time, happy riding!

Jordan Baker

Hi, I’m Jordan. I’ve been riding motorcycles for a few years now(9+ years). Along the way I’ve learned a bunch, made mistakes and picked up a thing or two. I’ve also spent countless hours practicing and working on improving my skills, something I try to do a few times a week. That’s why I made this website. So I can share my love for riding and everything I’ve learned over the years. Hopefully you’ll stick around and check out a few articles.

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