As we get into the middle of summer, temperatures are rising and it’s getting harder and harder to beat the heat. We don’t want to let the weather stop us from getting out on our machines, so here are some low-cost or free ways to help keep cool while out on your motorcycle.
- Strapping a bag of ice to your handlebars can keep cool air circulating. If you stab the bag with a knife or fork a few times, the melting ice will leak back on you while you ride; just make sure it doesn’t get in your eyes!
Related: Warm Weather Riding Pants
- A sport-top water bottle tied to the handlebars is a great way to cool down, as well. Just pop the top and give it a squeeze for a quick mist.
- Light colors reflect light, dark colors absorb it. Wearing light colors will help keep temps down—it’s as simple as that.
- Weirdly, more is often better when it comes to riding gear. To roll with punches, dress in several layers so you can strip down as conditions warrant. Light gear or gear designed for hot weather will help keep the sun off of your skin, sapping moisture more slowly and keeping your body temp down.
- Wet your shirt, or a bandana, or literally anything you have that will hold water. Some folks swear by cotton because it’ll stay wet longer and thus cool you with evaporative moisture, but we like the lighter wicking kind of shirt ’cause it’s not as heavy and cools more quickly, but that also means it dries more quickly. Whatever you have, wet it and wear it. If you have a vented jacket, put your wet shirt underneath; you will stay cooler longer and also have help with sunburn. By the same token, an evaporative cooling vest with some airflow over it will help keep your core cooler than a wet neck wrap, but that’s money spent and not available in a pinch.
- If you’re on the road all day, set up a routine for every stop: Fill the tank, use the restroom, re-soak the shirt, chug a bottle of water. Be quick, be efficient, and get back into the wind.
- If you’re stashing liquids for later, freeze them the night before you hit the road. They’ll melt en route, giving you cold drinking fluids well into the trip. And if you have the room in your pockets, stashing a frozen bottle will help keep internal temps down, as long as it’s leakproof. Similarly, we’ve filled a CamelBak with ice and used that on long, hot trips under a cooking sun. The ice will eventually melt and provide on-demand hydration.
- Ride early in the day. Predawn is best, but even just after sunrise is a good way to beat much of the day’s heat. Or you can break the day’s ride in half—take a long siesta during the hottest part of the day, then head back out when it’s cooler. Planning to avoid the heat is a big part of beating it, and if you’re not in a hurry, sitting in a nice café or restaurant with AC is not a bad way to wait for things to cool down.
Keep the lip balm handy. Burned lips suck. And for when you get off the bike, keep a brimmed hat nearby. Those who have been riding long enough know this one well. Blistered lips usually sneak up a couple of days later; they’re painful, and people will 100-percent think you have herpes.