Home / What to Wear When Riding a Motorcycle in Cold Weather

For most motorcyclists, warm weather is part of the package for the ultimate ride, which is too bad because cold-weather riding can be a special thrill in its own right. As long as your bike can handle the cold and you know what to wear when riding a motorcycle in cold weather, there are virtually no limits to where you can go in wintry conditions when there’s no snow or ice involved.

Keep reading to learn more about winter motorcycle gear, as well as specific conditions that might make winter riding out of bounds.

How Often Should I Ride My Motorcycle in the Winter?

Motorcycle owners should start their bike and let it run for at least 15 minutes a week during the winter to help keep the internal parts operating correctly and recharge the battery. How often riders will want to ride in the winter depends on whether or not they’ve got the right type of riding gear.

What Do You Wear on a Motorcycle in the Winter?

Specific items will vary from person to person based on location, average weather conditions, and personal preferences. Still, any rider who wants to take their Harley-Davidson out in the winter should invest in a few essential pieces of winter motorcycle gear.

Full-Face Helmet

A full-face helmet is essential for any kind of winter or cold-weather motorcycle riding. It will keep your face from freezing up, increase your visibility, and provide the necessary protection from any kind of precipitation.

But that’s not all the right helmet will do for you. The best helmets built for winter riding come with vents that can be closed, which can help block and eliminate as much wind from entering the helmet as possible. Using these vents is a choice, but it’s a great choice when you’re riding into a whipping headwind.

Neck gaiters and balaclavas can protect motorcyclist from cold air in the winter

Neck Protection

While a helmet with a full face shield and vents will help protect you from the wind and cold, it won’t do a thing to keep your neck warm. Think of your neck as the “middle ground” when it comes to cold-weather riding—it’s in between your head and chest, which makes it the weak link in your winter gear where body heat can leak out unless you wear a neck gaiter or a balaclava.

The choice between these two pieces of motorcycle gear is personal, but getting a balaclava to fit right can be a tricky deal with many helmets since it adds an extra cumbersome layer. Neck gaiters eliminate this problem, and they offer a lot of choices, including windproof options. Overall the neck gaiter is a small item with a low price, but it can make a big difference when it comes to comfort.

Heated Gear

There’s nothing like heated gear if you can afford it. A heated jacket and gloves can spell the difference between comfortable and chilly when you’re riding in cold weather, and most of the riders who use electric gear swear it’s worth the extra cash. Harley-Davidson offers a comprehensive array of heated clothing, including jackets and pants, as well as glove and sock liners.

A Warm Base Layer

Anyone who does outdoor activities in the cold air knows the importance of insulating layers, and motorcycle riding in the winter is no exception.

Some people use wool as a base layer, while others prefer moisture-wicking fabrics that wick away sweat while trapping in body heat. This is a personal preference, so spend some time experimenting to see what works for you. Everyone’s different when it comes to layers, so figure out how many you need and what fabrics to use, and remember, even if you go for a full riding suit, you may still need a layer or two underneath. 

Leather Gear

Let’s talk a little more about leather motorcycle gear. It’s often a great style choice for riding in any kind of weather, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind if you’re going to wear leather to ride in the cold.

A leather vest is a solid choice as a base layer, but if you go the leather route, steer clear of perforated leather or leather that provides ventilation to avoid letting in cold air. You will also want to move with whatever leather you choose since freedom of movement is necessary to use your arms and properly control your bike.

windbreakers are designed to go the extra mile when it comes to wind protection and are great for riding a motorcycle in the winter

Windbreakers

Leather riding gear is great for riding in style and getting some weather protection in the process, but today’s windbreakers are designed to go the extra mile when it comes to wind protection.

Windbreakers typically come with insulating layers that retain heat and block the wind, and it’s always a great idea to carry one along just in case the wind whips up during your ride. Rain gear can also provide extra warmth and additional layers, so if you’ve got a rain jacket, bring it along to provide some insurance in case of a storm.

Gloves & Handwarmers

It goes without saying that gloves are important for winter riding, and deerskin leather work gloves can fit the bill nicely. You could also get something fleece-lined with a fabric such as Thinsulate or Gore-Tex, which is a great option for those familiar with the warmth and protection it provides.

Keep in mind that good gloves can protect more than your hands. Gauntlet gloves can protect your wrists and sleeves, and waterproof gloves will increase the level of protection even more if you live in an area where precipitation is an issue.

Winter gloves are fine when it comes to cold air protection, but those little thermal packs of “hot hands” can be the ultimate solution when it comes to staying warm. Take some along as insurance, and sooner or later, you’ll likely be glad you did.

Socks & Boots

If you do outdoor activities in winter, you already know the importance of warm socks and boots. Once again, consider wool as a possibility or compression socks since they may also help keep you warm by increasing circulation.

Tall boots can help, too, and the good news about boots is that they generally come with a wide variety of linings that offer a surprising amount of warmth.

How Cold is Too Cold to Ride a Motorcycle?

Ice starts to form when the temperature falls below 32℉, of course, and cold tires equal less traction. This combination alone should be enough to keep you off the road, especially when snow and ice enter the equation. But if you do decide to ride in these conditions, make sure your anti-freeze is topped up and your bike’s safety features are all in working order. It is also wise to make some arrangements that will allow you to call on motorcycle-specific towing services in the case of an emergency.

You can find the latest Harley-Davidson motorcycles and gear at your local dealership.

Your Destination for Winter Motorcycle Gear in Texas—Harley-Davidson of Kingwood

Harley-Davidson of Kingwood is your destination for winter motorcycle gear in Texas. Our dealership has a wide selection of winter riding gear, including heated clothing, so now that you know what to wear when riding a motorcycle in cold weather, come visit us to shop in-store! 

In addition to essential motorcycle gear, we also offer a large inventory of new and pre-owned Harleys and riding courses for new and skilled riders alike. Come explore everything we have to offer at Harley-Davidson of Kingwood!  


Harley Davidson of Kingwood blog author
Harley Davidson of Kingwood

Harley-Davidson of Kingwood is your #1 Texas Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealer. Our full-service facility offers new and pre-owned motorcycles, parts, maintenance, riding apparel, and everything else you need to get your Hog on the road. As a winner of the Harley-Davidson Gold Bar & Shield Circle of Excellence, we’re committed to providing top-notch customer service every day of the week. Stop by and visit the Harley-Davidson of Kingwood Showroom on Northpines Drive in Kingwood, TX!