Cold Weather Gear
First off, I don't live where it snows. Secondly, if I did I wouldn't ride in the snow. With that said, the coldest I've ridden in is about 30 degrees F (-1 C). I had plenty of windproof gear on and multiple layers and I was still pretty cold. From that experience I decided the only way to stay warm in extreme cold is to have heated gear. You can only layer so much on a motorcycle before you sacrifice mobility and become unable to safely ride.
Heated gear is expensive. We're talking $300 plus for a whole setup. That includes the main relay that goes to the battery, gloves, and a jacket liner. If you only want heated gloves, you usually have to buy an adapter from the main relay. There's also the option of buying heated grips, which wire straight to the battery and usually cost less than heated gloves. The only drawback is that they heat just one side of your hand, so the back of your hand that's exposed to the wind can still be freezing. I recently purchased and installed a set of heated grips and I'll never own another bike without them. One reason is that they're always available. If you ride somewhere in the middle of the day when it's warm, then ride home when it's cold, you always have the option of turning the grips on the keep your hands warm.
I do everything with the broke college student mentality (since that's what I am). That means wind resistance and layers. If you check online for a wind chill factor chart, you'll find that riding at 80mph in 30 degree weather makes it somewhere around 15 degrees. That makes wind one of the biggest causes of being cold.
Leather doesn't work well for insulation (in my experience), so I wear solid textile with no mesh. Just about every textile jacket also has a liner, so I keep that in there. I also wear a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, and then an undershirt. As I said, layers.
Overpants that are insulated are a must, or at least waterproof pants that block the wind. Waterproof pants will still allow some cold to transfer to your legs, but they keep the warm air your body generates from getting blown away from you.
Boots need to be windproof as well. Most racing boots have vents, which don't work very well at keeping cold out. Boots are also a necessity to keep wind from riding up your pant leg. Thick socks are another good idea.
Gloves are the hardest choice. You need insulation, but you still have to be able to feel the controls and move your fingers. But if you don't insulate well enough your hands will go numb, and that's just as bad. The best solution is to try all the options, and fork out the money for a pair that works well for you. You won't regret it.
Another necessity is a way to keep your head warm. No matter how good you helmet is, air always finds its way in. For that I wear a balaclava. It doesn't keep the air out, but it aids in insulation.
A better way to keep the air out is with a neck warmer. I place mine over the collar of my jacket to keep air from entering, and it helps close up the opening to the bottom of my helmet. I consider this to be priceless. I have ridden with my hand covering my bare neck for 20 miles on the freeway due to freezing temperatures, and a neck warmer solves that problem. The downside is that the material makes it more difficult to check your blind spot by looking over your shoulder.
The worst case scenario I found myself in was a 45 minute from home in 40 degree (4 C) weather with only a mesh jacket, jeans, and thin leather gloves. To get out of the wind I tucked behind the fairing. To help keep my hands from going numb I placed them straight on the engine (which isn't that hot at 80mph and 40 degrees). I also STOPPED when I was too cold and stuck my hands behind my exhaust the help warm them. I made it home, but lesson learned. Hopefully you won't have the same experience.
Last edited by DarkNinja75
on Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:42 am, edited 1 time in total.