Being cold and wet on the bike isn’t fun. In fact, it’s so stressful and tiring, you actually become less alert, slowing your reaction times and leaving you at risk.
Riding our bikes in colder weather is less of a choice and more of a necessity for some. But riding when the temperature is down in the single digits doesn’t have to mean that you dread throwing your leg over your steed. With planning and preparation, it’s possible to be toasty and warm, or at least maintain a comfortable temperature.
Being cold isn’t only uncomfortable; it can severely affect levels of concentration and that can mean the difference between staying on and toppling off your bike. While temperature alone doesn’t change the way your bike handles, often the weather associated with winter – rain, snow, ice, black ice, wind – can.
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So why not limit the factors that you can control and ensure your core temperature is warm and your concentration is high?
BACK TO BASICS
Even before you buy your bike it may be worth asking yourself whether you’re going to be riding it all year round. If so, why not try and strike a deal and get accessories such as heated grips or a windshield thrown-in with your purchase?
If you’ve already got your dream machine, have a look around at the types of accessories available. Here’s a few ideas to get you started…
WINDSHIELDS: not only do they cut down the wind-chill factor, they can prevent you from tiring after a severe battering from 70mph winds on the motorway. They have the added benefits of helping to keep the grime and rain off your visor too…
HEATED GRIPS: you can pick up heated grips for a lot less money than you might think. They’re a fantastic addition to your handlebars and can often be fitted at home.
HANDLEBAR MUFFS: these are a fantastic way of getting twice the cover on your hands without bulking them out which can often result in little feeling of the bars. They can be left on the bike and a number of varieties are available, including heated versions.
HAND GUARDS: if you don’t want the full coverage of muffs, plastic hand guards might be a good solution. They’re often used on off-road or adventure bikes, so if you’ve got a bigger bike these won’t look out of place.
There’s an abundance of products on the market which aim to keep you snug and dry. But with so much to choose from, where do you start? Don’t assume you have to go for expensive thermal layers, head down to your local shop to find cheaper alternatives.
BASE LAYER: This layer is worn next to your skin with the aim to keep you warm and wick away moisture from your body. In colder weather a thermal top and trousers are a great choice. Don’t forget your arms – so look out for long sleeved options.
MID LAYER: Whether choosing leathers or textiles, it’s essential to choose a riding jacket with an in-built thermal liner. Many jackets have removable liners so that they can be used in summer as well as winter. If you’ve already bought a jacket but it’s not warm enough, why not think about adding a fleece jacket or a heated gilet on the inside.
OUTER LAYER: The aim of this is to keep out the wind and the rain. A one-piece (or two-piece) rainsuit will do the job. Look for products that are breathable (while you’re working hard to keep moisture out, you don’t want it building up on the inside).
DON’T FORGET THE EXTREMITIES!
It’s highly probable that your hands and feet will feel the cold worse, as they are often neglected.
HANDS: Look after your hands with some good winter gloves. Watch out that they’re not too bulky; it’s important that your hands stay functional as they’re in charge of some very important bike controls. Ensure your gloves are waterproof, as your hands are one of the first things to take the brunt of the weather.
FEET: If you’re purchasing a new pair of boots, look out for waterproof ones, as they often have extra liners in. If you’ve already shelled-out on a pair that isn’t waterproof, then think about getting some waterproof socks? If you find your feet get really cold, then have a look around for some heated insoles.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
Simply having a full tummy can help you keep warm. While your tummy is working hard to digest your food and break it down, your cells are generating heat while they’re working. Feeling chilly? Why not pull over and have a hot cup of tea? You could make yourself feel a lot better and warm through, and at the end of the day, that can only be better for you and your safety.