Best Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear

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By Evans Brasfield

Winter can be a tough time of year for motorcyclists – particularly those who live in northern states. While nothing outside of screwing studs into your bike’s tires and going ice racing can help you scratch the two-wheeled itch once the white stuff hits the ground, there are still plenty of opportunities for riding if you are prepared with the right cold weather motorcycle gear.

Winter riding newbies typically ask us some pretty similar questions: Does leather keep you warm on a motorcycle? Does wearing rain gear over my regular gear help keep me warmer? Do I have to wear expensive motorcycle-specific winter gear? All of these questions can be summed up into “What should I wear while riding a motorcycle in the winter?”

First, everyone’s definition of winter riding is different. In sunny SoCal, the thermometer dipping below 50° F is a sign of the coming apocalypse. In New England, temperatures in the single digits might not even register with some seasoned riders. It all comes down to what level of discomfort you’re willing to endure and how much insulation you’re able to pack around your body. Supplemental heat is also an important consideration for lengthening your riding season.

In winter, just like any other time you’re on your motorcycle, you want to wear gear that protects you in case of a crash. That means CE-certified armor on your back, elbows, knees, and shoulders. Naturally, quality motorcycle-specific riding apparel will include this kind of protection. Leather riding gear can help keep winter’s cold wind from directly reaching your body, but it isn’t great for insulating against the cold. You can augment your leather with thermal base layers or electric underclothing. Insulated over suits are another option to augment your leather. Still, nothing beats gear that was designed for winter from the get-go.

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