When the temperature rises, many riders find that their gear gets uncomfortably hot and sweaty.
It’s tempting to go without it, but the smarter choice is to invest in summer-specific motorcycle gear that provides protection but keeps you cool at the same time.
Here’s what you need to ride safely and comfortably during the hottest months.
During the summer months, it gets hot underneath a helmet. More than just uncomfortable, this extra heat can lead to fatigue and disorientation, which can be dangerous on long rides.
As a result, you want a helmet with good ventilation that lets the wind cool off your face and head.
One way to do this is with an open-face or half-face helmet. However, this sacrifices safety, especially in the chin area, which is particularly vulnerable in case of an accident.
It’s possible to still get the safety of a full-face helmet without overheating. You just have to get a full-face helmet designed with enough ventilation for hot weather.
Read through all my ventilated helmet reviews.
I go with the Shoei RF-1400 for summer riding because it has six intake vents and four exhaust vents, which are adjustable to keep air moving in the best way to keep you cool. It also has a lining made of moisture-wicking fabric.
Like with helmets, you can still get the full protection of a motorcycle jacket without having to soak yourself in sweat. Again, it just needs enough ventilation to let air get to your skin.
Usually, good ventilated jackets have mesh panels that let air pass through the outer layer. Additionally, in contrast to winter jackets, they often have low collars that let the wind cool your neck or even enter into the jacket itself.
Just make sure the jacket you go with still has all the standard safety features. Its outer layers should resist abrasion, and ideally, there will be armor at the elbows and shoulders.
Visit the full round-up to see all my favorite summer motorcycle jackets.
Your hands overheat pretty easily, too, leaving your fingers sweaty and slimy and harder to use.
Luckily, plenty of gloves have ventilation. They also tend to have lighter material while still having armor and reinforcement in the knuckles for maximum protection.
Moisture-Wicking Base Layers
It may seem counterintuitive, but it can help to put layers on when it gets sweltering. Well, assuming those layers wick away moisture, thereby helping to keep you cool.
You can get base layers for basically every part of your body. The most beneficial is a moisture-wicking compression shirt, but you may also find moisture-wicking pants, socks, and even balaclavas or other headgear.
These are all usually lightweight and breathable so that they don’t hold in your body heat while pulling sweat away from your body. They also provide other benefits, like compressing your muscles to keep them from cramping on long rides.
In the winter, putting some thick waterproof pants over your regular pants isn’t a problem, but you want to cut down on extra fabric in the summer.
This is especially true if you’re a commuter. You probably just want to wear your everyday jeans. But what about protection?
You can get jeans specifically designed for motorcycle riding, so you don’t need any extra layers. These jeans still have protection at the knees and sometimes hips and are usually more resistant to abrasion than standard denim jeans.
If you’re just riding for fun and don’t need to wear your everyday clothes, you can get motorcycle pants that provide full-leg protection but are a lot cooler and more comfortable. These have mesh ventilation that allows air to pass over your legs and cool them off efficiently.
Read more about the best summer motorcycle pants.
The other main features of ventilated motorcycle pants are the armor and adjustability. There should at least be armor at the knees if not the hips as well. It helps if it’s removable because, even if you don’t want to remove it, you can adjust it to be more comfortable.
You should look for adjustability in more than just the armor, though. Adjusting the waist and ankles can help you get maximum airflow without discomfort or interference.
That’s right—more ventilation. In the summer, you want ventilation all the way down to your toes. In a good summer motorcycle boot, this comes in the form of perforations across the top and sides of the boot that allows for airflow.
Additionally, a boot is more comfortable in the summer if it has moisture-wicking fabric that draws away sweat. The sweat carries heat out of your skin, and then the fabric absorbs it, cooling you off. This also cuts down on odor when you finally have to take your boots off.
Of course, you should focus on the safety of the boots. The construction might be thinner in some areas, but you still want thick soles with thick heels and plenty of protection at the ankles.
These Alpinestars boots are great for summer weather, not just because they're low cut for more airflow, but also because they have extensive perforations and an internal mesh lining that wicks away sweat. As for safety, the ankles have double-density construction for increased abrasion resistance.
A unique piece of equipment that you may not have considered during the winter is a hydration pack or bladder to provide extra water during long rides or even commuting if it gets hot enough.
The heavy clothing and helmet necessary for safety on a motorcycle make you sweat a lot more than you usually would, so dehydration happens faster than you expect. Not only do you want to carry water, but you want it to be easily accessible through a straw tube.
A hydration pack consists of a flexible plastic bladder that holds water without leaking. You can then insert this bladder into a backpack to carry with you. A tube also extends out of the bladder that you can easily open to safely take a sip of water while riding without even turning your head.
Before buying a hydration pack, you should consider a couple of things. First of all, do you need the full backpack, or do you just need the bladder to slip into your own backpack, many of which come with pockets for water bladders?
Also, how much water are you going to need? Bladders come in a wide range of capacities, from a few ounces to several liters. The longer your rides, the bigger you want your bladder.
The backpack brand that saw me through high school and college, I'm partial to Ogio. In this case, I love their Dakar hydration pack because it holds a full 100 ounces, or three liters, with a highly adjustable strap system to fit comfortably on just about anyone. It's ideal for long rides in hot weather.
There’s no reason to compromise on safety because it’s getting hot. Modern summer motorcycle gear can keep you cool while still protecting you from severe injury in the case of an accident. Invest in the right equipment to ride safely and comfortably even during the hottest months.