Editor’s Note: Every winter somehow feels colder, so we’ve added more gear to our 2014 list of the best cold weather motorcycle gear. Stay warm out there.
Warm sunny days are still two or six weeks away for those of us in the northern regions (depending on your groundhog of choice) — and yet taking your motorcycle out for a few “pre-season” blasts can be a joyous, refreshing experience. At 55 mph a simple flip of your visor is like downing a triple shot of your favorite espresso; at 85 it’s even better.
Hell, a simple whiff of spring air mixed with just a touch of exhaust is enough to give you the stamina of Sting — provided you’ve prepared. Otherwise, there’ll be much shivering and an early decision to head back to the heated garage. We’ve lined up our own personal arsenal for your cold-weather-riding pleasure.
Racer Dynamic II Gloves
The words frosted and tips should only ever be used together when referencing bad hair decisions of the early ’90s or a Saved by the Bell reunion. The new Racer Gloves Dynamic II go a long way towards making sure that’s the case for riders looking to brave the cold. Lined in Polartec fleece and featuring Dexfil insulation, the Dynamic IIs provide warmth without adding too much bulk. A pittards leather palm maintains haptic dexterity on the bars, while a Gore-Tex membrane keeps things nice and dry — a feature backed by a five-year warranty. Racer Gloves are some of the best-fitting gauntlets out there, but be sure to follow their measurement advice — a large-sized pair of gloves usually works, but in the Dynamic IIs an XXL set is ideal.
Shark Explore R Helmet
The Shark Explore R helmet is the most flexible lid we’ve come across yet. In seconds, the full-faced bucket can transform into any one of four configurations by adding or removing the included peak, visor or goggles. Regardless of your riding style, the Explore R is designed to suit off-roaders, tourers and knee-draggers alike. And, it weighs in at a svelte 1450 grams. For winter riding, regardless of terrain, we’d keep the visor installed thanks to Shark’s new auto-seal system that creates an air- and watertight barrier at the eye port to keep the bitter winds out of your face. There’s even an integrated neck gaiter that unfurls from the helmet’s liner to completely block out the cold.
Rev’It Memphis H2O Pants
Proper, protective riding jeans are a thing of beauty. They deliver imperative function in an ideal form. And now, thanks to Rev’It’s new Memphis H2O jeans, they keep you warm and dry in the saddle. The Memphis are the first riding jeans to boast 100 percent waterproof effectiveness, thanks to their combination of water-resistant coated denim and Rev’It’s proprietary Hydratex liner. The outer fabric keeps the elements out, while the integrated abrasion-resistant layer and Knox armor protect riders from bashes and rashes. And, conveniently, the Memphis jeans are roomy enough through the seat and leg to allow for a thicker thermal first layer, plus all the zippers are seam sealed.
Klim Arctic GTX Boots
With looks that match your pegs or your favorite snowboard, the Klim Arctic GTX Boots offer more than just good looks. They boast unrivaled thermal foot protection with 1,200 grams of Thinsulate lining the body, 600 grams through the midsole and a further 400 grams woven into the removable insole. The Arctic GTXs also boast a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex (GTX, get it?) membrane that fully surrounds all that Thinsulate, as well as a moisture-wicking layer to fend off trench foot on even the dampest of days. Best of all, with their aggressive tread pattern, these boots should work on shovel duty, so you can free your beast from its wintery hideout before we finally score that full thaw.
Spidi Ergo 365 Pro Expedition H2Out Jacket
If you’re looking for a riding jacket that can handle year round life on the road, the Spidi Ergo 365 Pro Expedition H2Out is it. With three zip-in/zip-out layers, the Ergo 365 is designed to tackle temperature ranges running from 14 to 104 degrees, all while keeping riders protected from both abrasions and impacts. The Ergo 365 meets CE 13595-1 certification, and protects better than most leather layers do. Waterproof pockets serve double duty as standalone pouches and the rear-mounted map pocket quickly becomes a tank bag to keep you on point. An integrated hydration pack is also included — which could easily be topped up with your favorite hot beverage should things start to get real frosty.
Alpinestars Winter Tech Performance Suit
A warm body begins at the first layer, right next to the skin. Alpinestars’ Winter Tech Performance Suit is a dual-layer onesie designed to keep you from cutting glass whilst cutting corners. Hidden zippers and a tubular seamless construction keep any frosty air away from your core, and the suit is made using a moisture-wicking polypropylene and elastane fabric that acts as a compression device to support your muscles and reduce fatigue while keeping you warm.
Rev’It Tour Winter Socks
Granted, cold feet may have saved your college roommate from making the biggest mistake of his life but, almost every other time, they’re a bad thing. A soft and insulating layer of pure Merino wool is woven into these anatomically shaped knee-highs, while a moisture-wicking interweave takes care of any potential foot-funk when they slide into your favorite boots. Free bonus: they’re labelled “left” and “right”.
Dainese Street Tracker Gore-tex Conformato
Outer layers need to block wind, resist abrasion and keep out Homer’s nemesis: lousy Smarch weather. The Dainese Street Tracker Conformato pants offer a Gore-Tex membrane that’s laminated to the outermost layer to keep moisture out. The integrated air inlets can be opened when conditions improve, and removable and adjustable EN-certified composite knee protectors, along with some softer padding hidden near the waist and hips, help save your bacon should you find an icy patch. Add on Dainese’s suspender kit and you can even grab a coffee in Brooklyn on your way home.
ICON 1000 Beltway Jacket
Waxed cotton has long been the go-to fabric for fighting the chillier elements — just ask any Brit. It blocks wind, breathes well and sheds water faster than a duck’s ass. The ICON 1000 Beltway Jacket is a three-quarter-length coated canvas upper that takes those historical learnings to the next level. Premium leather panels adorn the abrasion-prone zones with removable CE-certified D30 armor tucked in underneath. The main zipper features a magnetic storm flap to seal out the elements, and the interior sports a removable quilted liner finished in a steely blue. There are also 14 — yes, 14 — pockets for you to stash your EDC should a mission crop up.
Venture Heat Epic 2.0 Battery Heated Gloves
The warmest and driest gear everywhere else means jack shit if you don’t have a decent pair of gloves. Venture Heat’s new Epic 2.0 Battery Heated Gloves are powered by an array of lightweight, rechargeable lithium ion batteries to keep the thermostat cranked where you need it the most. Three temperature settings are available at the push of a button, which incidentally light up to show you how hot things will get: green for low, yellow for medium and red for high. The fingertips on the thumb and forefinger are even touchscreen compatible, so you can still search for Steppenwolf on that new Harley Ultra Limited in your garage.
Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Electric Vest Liner
If you’re one of those well-prepared riders who thought to install a battery adapter on your bike, the world is your electrically heated oyster, starting with the Tourmaster Synergy 2.0 Electric Vest Liner, which can be quickly connected and cranked up to keep your core toasty. Lightweight and flexible steel fiber heating elements are woven into the interior and work in all weather conditions. Even unplugged, that extra layer could be essential — the sun still sets pretty early these days.
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet
Protecting your melon means more than keeping both feet out of the grave when the mercury is low. You need full face protection that flows through the wind and won’t weigh you down. The Shoei RF-1200 Helmet called the wind tunnel home for most of its development and the result is a super-slick shell that’s one of Shoei’s most compact and streamlined. Snell certification is standard issue, as are a three-position lower vent, a triple-channel upper air opening and four exhaust ports to dole out the requisite refreshment. A fully removable 3D Max-Dry System II liner contours to your dome for the ultimate in comfort. And, the helmet features Shoei’s E.Q.R.S (Emergency Quick Release System) should paramedics ever be needed.