10 Tips for Hot Weather Motorcycle Riding
by Liz Jansen
With hot weather in full swing across most of Canada and the US, (although certainly not in my neighbourhood) it seemed fitting to revisit this topic, pulled from the archives. Keep cool everyone!
It happened to me and it can happen to you. Headache, nausea, confusion, disorientation—and I was on a solo trip in a foreign country, thousands of miles from home.
Exposure to direct sun, heat and the wind all increase the rate at which we lose water naturally through perspiration and breathing.
And if, like those of us in northern climates, we’re not acclimatized to the heat, it can affect us at even moderate heat temperatures.
The onset of heat exhaustion can be insidious. A few easy proactive steps can help us stay well hydrated when riding in hot weather.
- Wear light colored clothing – including your helmet.
- Layer your clothing so you can adjust as the temperature changes. Breathable layers are better than nothing at all – even under your riding gear.
- Drink plenty of fluids – pure water is best. Start drinking well ahead of your ride – the effects of dehydration are cumulative. I have started adding an electrolyte supplement in the form of an effervescent tabs.
- Avoid caffeine. Liquids with act as a diuretic and push water out of your system. If you must have a cup of caffeine, make sure you drink 8 ounces of water for every cup of coffee or soda that you drink.
- Drink 1/2 ounce of water for every 1 pound that you weigh (as a rule of thumb, in a day).
- Sip your water every 15 minutes or so, rather than drink more at longer intervals.
- Install a cup-holder or use a hands-free Camelback. I strap mine around my tank bag rather than on my back and it works just fine.
- Wear lightweight clothing that covers your skin. It minimizes the sun’s drying and damaging effects.
- Stop frequently to rest, stretch, move around, drink water and cool down.
- Plan your day around the weather. Start riding earlier and avoid riding during peak heat times.
Signs of dehydration include: less frequent urination (urine passed will be less in volume and darker in color), fatigue, headache, dizziness and cramps. If you are not drinking water, it is hot and you are not sweating, be careful. This could be a sign that you are nearing heat stroke.
Great advice for all folks in the summer time no matter what your activity is!
Thanks Mary. Ironically, we’re having an unusually cool summer!
Stay cool wherever you are!
It’s really hard to wear your motorcycle gear when it’s hot. It’s like you’re being barbecued using your own sweat. Nice tips you have there. I always wear light clothing whenever it’s summer and I need to use my bike.
Thanks. It can get very hot and I wear my gear all the time. Exposed skin is more dehydrating and less cooling than having it covered. If I think the heat is going to be a health and safety factor, I don’t ride.
We tour europe on our R1200GS and temeratures sour, especialy in the south. We always wear protective gear and as previous comments stated it can be like being in a sauna. However, a couple of years ago we invested in some BMW Motorrad Cool Down vests (there are similar vests from revit and other brands) and these have proven to be an absolute dream, its like air conditioning on the bike. They do cost a few bucks but in my opinion worth every cent, we now dont leave home without them.
Hi David and Lynn – Thanks for highlighting this. I’ve never worn a cooling vest but know people that do. I had a chance to examine them in a BMW shop this summer and speak with people who used them – all rave about how wonderful their cooling properties are. It’s worth it to get quality products that do what they’re supposed to do. Safe travels!! Liz