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Tips for Hot Weather Motorcycle Riding

On Sunday, I slipped out for a quick mid-morning ride. By 10am the temperature had already risen into the 90’s where it stayed for the remainder of the day. As I rode along the merciless black tar of the Long Island Expressway, the heat radiated all around me. I don’t often wish I were just going right back home instead of riding on… but yesterday was one of those days. It was utterly miserable.

How hot is too hot?

At some point, you have to ask yourself if it is simply too hot to ride your motorcycle. It is an entirely personal question to which the answer is sometimes, yes.

Today when I got into my car after work, the outside temperature read 104°F and crept up to 106°F while moving on the Expressway. I blissfully drove along in the cool of the AC. It was simply too hot to ride.

If you Decide to Brave the Heat

Hydrate, hydrate and then hydrate some more. Skip the caffeine, soda and alcohol. Go for water or a sports drink.

A good option to keep your fluids at a healthy level is to ride with a Camelback and sip as you go. It’s important that you try to stave off any of the symptoms of dehydration before they occur.

WebMD’s Symptoms of Dehydration in Adults:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth and swollen tongue
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations (feeling that the heart is jumping or pounding)
  • Confusion
  • Sluggishness, even fainting
  • Inability to sweat
  • Decreased urine output: Urine color may indicate dehydration. If urine is concentrated and deeply yellow or amber, you may be dehydrated.

Keep Cool with Evaporative Cooling

Wear a wet bandana or maybe Aerostich’s Evap-odana around your neck. There is also the option of using a cooling vest or the old-fashioned soaked t-shirt method.

Insulate your Body from the Sun and Heat

ATGATT helps with the heat too. Keep your skin fully covered and insulated.

Soundrider.com also notes that if the air temperature is below your regular body temperature, keep the vents open on your gear or opt for mesh garments. Once the temperature rises above your body temperature, close up vents to fight against the hot air. The moving hot air will heat up your cooler skin.

Use your Head

If you decide to ride in the high heat, listen to your body. If you feel a little woozy or maybe just a little “off”, do yourself a favor and pull off somewhere. Try to cool down by getting off the hot motorcycle and finding a shady spot, an air conditioned store or gas station and just chill out. By the time you feel the symptoms, dehydration could already be settling in.

Your Hot Weather Riding Tips? Do you have some hot weather motorcycle riding tips to keep to share? Put them in the comments, please!

How about you?

  • What’s the hottest temperature you’ve ever ridden in?
  • How hot is too hot for you?

Comments

AtlasRider
Reply

Great post and reminder to everyone.

My hottest day was when temperatures hit 120 through the California desert on a lonely backroad. I stopped every 30 minutes to re-gain my composure and soak my helmet with water to keep cool. I would keep my eye on the odometer and force myself to take a big gulp the the hot water in my camelback every mile to keep hydrated. Worst. Ride. Ever.

Sure is fun to talk about it though now :)

Fuzzygalore
Reply

Thanks, Atlas-
120 sounds miserable. At some point you cross the threshold of enjoyment and move in to just surviving. That’s when the fun goes bye-bye.

Bill Kane
Reply

Guess which one I use? LOL

Pakhan
Reply

Eat a banana before you ride, they are a great way to fight off dehydration. I don’t know the science I just know it is.

Crudmop
Reply

We saw 114 in Cali, and I was in full leathers at streets@willow at 110 – that kind of heat is ungodly.

Potassium and sodium are lost in periods of high heat/sweating, and bananas are a great source of potassium (which is why most track days always have bunches of bananas around).

Pam
Reply

Great post! I’ve been feeling like a motorcycle wimp for not riding in the heat and humidity! Thanks for the great information!

Christina Shook
Reply

I was riding through southern california and collapsed getting off my bike – I had no idea. Now I treat heat issues seriously. Great timely topic well covered, thanks!

Fuzzygalore
Reply

Holy smoke, Christina! That’s scary. You’re lucky you were able to keep your wits about you while you were moving. Heat is tough. Often as demonstrated in your case, you don’t know how badly you are affected until the shit hits the fan.

Kathy aka ToadMama
Reply

I have to agree, great post. Like Pam, I was feeling like a loser because I’ve refused to ride for days. Once temps hit the mid-90s, I don’t like to ride. It’s just too darn hot to be comfortable. I HATE when my head sweats inside the helmet. If I knew I could avoid stop-and-go traffic or situations it might not be that bad, but I live in the Northeast. It’s nice to know I’m not the only “cooler weather please” biker around.

Fuzzygalore
Reply

Thanks @Pam & Kathy-

Not wimpy at all! Its much better to know yourself, your limits and to trust your gut. If it isn’t fun – then why not do something else instead? :)

I find it much easier to get warm than it is to get cool. When it comes to riding I prefer 30 degrees over 100 degrees.

Roger Walls
Reply

Tips for riding in Hot weather- Stop at a station/rest stop and soak your t-shirt, cover this with a long sleeve shirt.
Take a hand towel fold it in half and sew up 2 sides. This will make a tube that you can fill with ice and wrap around your neck. As the ice melts it keeps you nice and cool.
Hydrate hydrate hydrate
I rode thru Death Valley in Auguist on a 1000 mile day -120 degrees

Fuzzygalore
Reply

Great tip on the DIY icy neckroll, Roger! 120 degrees.
….ugh, i’m sweating just thinking about it…

Shybiker
Reply

All good advice. I ride every day (don’t own a car) and this past week was rough, particularly since I had to make two 100-mile trips to Riverhead.

The thing I’d emphasize most in your list is the importance of hydration. We often don’t anticipate the debilitating effect heat has on our mental ability to ride and you can get into serious trouble before realizing it. Smart post.

Fuzzygalore
Reply

Thanks, Shybiker :)

Do you think lighter colored garments have any effect on how much heat you absorb as well?

Stay cool and hydrated out there!

Shybiker
Reply

Call me Ralph, Rachael. We have many mutual friends.

To answer your question, I’ve experimented with lighter-colored clothes and gear but, despite science saying they should be cooler, I haven’t perceived that. Paying close attention, I didn’t detect any improvement in coolness. Of much greater effect are well-designed vents (like the sleeves on my Vanson) and perforations which allow the wind to enter and cool us off.

Grant Merritt
Reply

This message is posted as helpful information, not as an advertisement.

I have been riding for 50 years and I am a strong believer in evaporative cooling vests. I seldom ride in 90 F+ temps without one. They make a terrific difference! I wear the same TechNiche vest we offer on our website. When you stop for lunch or ? you can quickly re-soak your vest in tap water and ride on in comfort.

If you live in an area with humid weather you will need what TechNiche calls a Phase Change Cooling Vest which uses re-freezable packets that are held in pockets on the inside of the vest. They are good for about 3 hours and can be re-frozen in 30 minutes for continued use. Finding an available freezer can be a problem when out on the road though…

specialsymbol
Reply

I encountered the hottest temperature I ever rode through in southern France. I was on a two-up trip with my girlfriend back from Italy and we were up to cross the highest paved pass* of the alps. Just at the start of the pass in Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée we stopped by at the local fire fighters to ask for the way and they gave us a half-frozen bottle of water, which was very welcomed, especially by my girlfriend. On the other side of the pass we ran into rain!

Next day the weather got even hotter until we reached a valley just before Switzerland. The valley was open to the south with a pass at the northern end, where we were heading. Temperatures were so high that I ultimately decided to open my motorcycle jacket (which I refused to do until then due to safety considerations) – only to stop a few seconds later in order to close it again! It felt like opening a baking oven and putting my bare chest in. It really hurt! It only got better after I closed the jacket again.

I have no idea how high the temperatures actually were. The valley was uninhabited, so no temperature readings were available. Two to three hours later we arrived in Geneva in Switzerland, in the evening, the sun having settled behind the mountains for a good half an hour already.
Thermometers in front of pharmacies still showed temperatures around 42.5°C (108.5°F) and it felt cold for us. Considering this I believe the temperature was above 50°C, maybe even around 55°C (122°F – 131°F).

* The “Col de la Bonette” is actually only 2715 m, while the “Col de l’Iseran” is 2770 m high. However, you can surround the “Cime de la Bonette” on a one way loop, thus reaching 2802 m.

MOTO-D RACING
Reply

I just read your online article “Tips for Hot Weather Motorcycle Riding”. MOTO-D Racing, recently launched a new item for riding in both cool and hot weather climates. If your comfortable inside your gear or leathers then you will be a focused rider and will have more fun. Our 1-piece, light-compression motorcycle undersuit allows the rider to slide in and out of their protective gear or leathers with ease, increasing comfort, flexibility, and absorbing moisture. The suit is soft, very smooth, and stretchy. With an MSRP of only $59.95, compare us to other products in the market and save. For all riders including sportbike trackday, street motorcycle including Harley Davidson, and dual-sport adventure riders.

For more information: http://motodracing.com/motorcycle_undersuit.html

Albert thompson
Reply

On July 6 1984
I ride from salt lake city to Las Vegas. That my first hottest day of the year, was 114 F. I feel like the giant hair blower on my body. I stop by 7-11 store buy water bottle and bag of ice cubes, pour the ice on my helmet. It help for keep cool on my head for last about 20 mins. I feel my gas tank was boiling. That was scary if it may blow up.

Fuzzygalore
Reply

Wow, Albert – that sounds like it must’ve been quite an adventure.

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