Wednesday, October 26, 2016
How To Not Feel As Uncomfortable As I do now: A Weather Guide for Gear
It's the end of October and this morning was sunny and clear. How was I supposed to know it would rain today? The monsoon ends in September. I suppose if I'm being honest, several TV channels and radio stations probably could have told me if I had bothered to check... But I didn't. So here I sit, pants soaked, socks soaked, a most uncomfortable feeling, reminded why I spent the money to weather specialize. Basically, it doesn't have to be like this. specialized gear can make it comfortable or at least tolerable in just about any condition. And with that, welcome to Badmotoscootin's how to not feel as uncomfortable as I do now.
Since we are on the topic of rain, let's do that one first. I am a huge proponent of Frogg Toggs. They repel water so well you can practically just shake the Water off when you're done using them, but I think the best benefit is how light they are. They breath and they are easily packed I can fit both the top and bottom in the built in tank bag on my Zero. they're not the prettiest, but let's be real, what rain gear actually looks good? Compared to the PVC garbage bags that will make you just as wet from sweet as from the elements that comprise most rain gear, I'll happily take the weird material and boring colors. There are also many waterproof textile jackets which is my winter rain approach to tops. There are purpose built rain gloves, but believe it or not, I will usually just wear my leather gloves when the rain catches me. Cheap leather gloves will fall apart if you get them wet, but a decent pair of Daineses or Alpinestars will keep your hands mostly dry and last for years as long as you're not drenching them daily. Also most rain pants will double as extra insulation for cold pants. I have never bought pants specifically for the cold as just wearing my rain pants seemed to do the trick.
Speaking of cold. If you are serious about being a motorcycle commuter like I am, you're going to deal with the cold for about 1/4th of the year, longer in the northern latitudes. Unless it's snowing, that's no reason to stop riding. Here in Arizona the temperature rarely drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and there is quite a good amount of gear that makes it safe to ride down that low. First Gear, who appears on this list again makes a great winter coverall that is easily one of the best bangs for the buck in the motorcycling world in any category Firstgear Thermo One-Piece Motorcycle Suit
When it comes to hands, I personally have no cold tolerance. I'll admit I cheat. When the temperature drops below 40F I start plugging gloves into the bike. Heated grips are a cheaper option, but they only heat the palms. Gloves heat everything. I'm partial to micro wire heated gear, but any heat on your hands will help. Even hot hands, but those are only good for 8 hours and my best use for them has been exploring off the bike. Heated Gear
Now, when I'm talking hot, I'm talking really hot, I mean southern and central Arizona hot. It was 118F in Phoenix during the first week of my trip. It was still 106 in Sedona up in the mountains. A perforated leather jacket won't do it for you here. We need mesh, and sometimes we need even more than that. My go to summer jacket is something that Firstgear discontinued for some unknown reason about two years ago. They still have a similar product Firstgear Mesh Tex Jacket that flows just as much air, and costs the same, but has a roomier fit.
My other more technical summer jacket is what I normally take on road trips. The Icon Hypersport is leather and 3d mesh. It's a little warmer than a solid mesh jacket naturally, but it's a lot more crash worthy and this jacket is great for road trips because it has 5 pockets, and they aren't small either. It also has a pocket for a small Mp3 player and even an earbud pocket. The ultimate finishing touch for road-trip jacket is the d3o armor. It's soft until it's hit and then it instantly becomes hard meaning that this jacket has no pressure points. Icon Hypersport Leather Jacket Icon also makes an even more advanced version of this jacket called the Hypersport Prime with more traditional padding. Icon Hypersport Prime Leather Jacket
When it starts to get really ridiculous like that 118F day, I will also where an evaporative cooling vest. They use air passing through water to remove heat by evaporating the water. This change in state is exactly the way a cooler works and isn't too different from the way A/C works. The back side of the vest can be as much as 30 degrees cooler than the air hitting it. It can also double as insulation when dry, making it good to pack for a trip. There are many makes, but this is the one I own. Techniche Hyperkewl Evaporative Cooling Vest
I'm a All The Gear All The Time kind of guy so my jeans are Kevlar lined Riding Pants and I wear gloves regardless of the temperature. First gear makes the ones I wear most of the time when it's hot. Firstgear Mesh Tex Gloves
So, if you're tying to decide on how to stay comfortable or keep from repeating a bad time, I hope my personal experience can help serve as a guide. As usual comment or email me any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org