You can read about my everyday basic motorbike essentials here
I am an all weather rider girl and coming up to my 7th UK winter on the bike. I have ridden through the coldest, windiest and wettest riding conditions that the lovely UK has to offer. From the depths of snow in Hertfordshire to the gale force winds of the Cornish coastline.
By now I have a pretty good idea of what gear is going to keep me warm, dry and well protected. Now let me point out this is my personal preference and what works best for me and in no way represents what others may choose to wear.
My winter essential gear:
1. Jacket and trousers
For Autumn/winter riding when it goes below 12 degrees I always don my textile jacket and trousers. But these have to be really good quality, waterproof and fully lined including armour. One thing I never skimp on is protective gear. I currently have a pair of British made Buffalo fitted ladies trousers but there is a great range out there, take a look here. I also have a lovely fitted J & S jacket, perfect for those cold winter nights, Sports Bike Shop have a lovely range. But you can also try looking at shows for bargain deals and motorbike swap and buy groups on Facebook for 2nd hand gear. For women’s specific motorbike clothing you can also try MotoGirl or Lady Biker.
If on the off chance it’s a nice sunny day but still a bit chilly I may swap my textile trousers for my armoured Kevlar jeans. A good test of the warmth of your gear is to walk around the house with it on, if you’re sweating your boobies off (even in winter) you know it’s gonna go some way to keeping you warm on the bike.
I wear full motorcycle boots for winter. Mine are Gortex which keep them somewhat waterproof (depending on the length of your journey) and they zip up as well as velcro over, giving good protection and warmth. If its extra chilly I just put on a thicker pair of socks. I have to admit mine were bought pretty much as new from a car-boot sale for £25, bargain! But if you shop around there are good deals to be had.
In my first few winters I suffered terribly with cold fingers. No amount of silk gloves, thermal glove liners or other tricks of the trade would be able to stop the excruciating pain I would experience. It sounds extreme but if you imagine riding in 5 degrees and then riding at 70mph, the wind chill soon plummets that temperature right down. This used to be my worst part about riding through winter.
I then progressed to a bigger bike which already had heated grips installed, yes! No more cold fingers, or so I thought. Although they went some way to warming my hands they still didn’t quite cut the mustard as the heat didn’t penetrate the whole of my hands and right through to my finger tips.
I can’t quite remember where the idea came from or where I heard about heated gloves. It was my Nan who bought me my 1st pair but they were way too big and very manly with a battery compartment. Then I came across a local shop who were selling waterproof, leather Gerbing G12 Heated Motorcycle Gloves. I was working as a waitress at the time and saved up all my tips (around £100) and went into the shop were they fitted them for me. When I say fitted, these were wired up to my battery and I would just plug my gloves in and would instantly be greeted with warmth. Amazing!!!
A few questions you may ask;
Do they not drain the battery? No as they use most the power when the gloves are plugged in and switched on (make sure you turn the temperature control/power button off though when they’re not in use). Don’t forget your bike will charge your battery as your ride.
Is the wire not a faff? If you ever had to wear mittens with the strings attached as a kid you’ll understand the concept here.
So you already have the wire from the battery set-up on the bike so nothing to do there. When you put your jacket on just hold onto each side of the wires and pull them through the sleeves (as if putting on mittens) with the temperature control remote hanging down the back of your jacket. Ensure you zip your jacket to your trousers with the control remote hanging on the correct side to the wire on your bike. When you’re ready mount your bike as usual, plug the control remote to the bike wire and select the temperature you want (unless your riding minus 10 degrees you shouldn’t need to go past medium heat on the Gerbing gloves, unless you want your hands to burn!). Don your gloves and plug them into the wires hanging out your sleeves and tuck them in (nothing worse than drafty gloves in winter) and Bobs your Uncle. Piece of cake and you’re not doing much more than you usually would when getting ready to go out. The result?
The best bit of kit I have ever bought! I no longer have cold fingers/hands. These have completely changed my winter riding days and longer journeys from uncomfortable to reasonably cosy. The gloves are also waterproof and they’re comfortable enough to wear on there own without heat.
N.B. Just a word of advise. Ensure you look after the cable attached to the bike. It may need cleaning every now and then and if you’re not going to use it for a while, remove it, clean it and store it correctly to help prevent corrosion. But you can easily buy a replacement wire if you get issues, but try and clean the wire first!
4. Base Layers
As I have already invested in a good set of textiles I don’t tend to need thermals or any fancy base layers but there are two items on the list I swear by* on keeping me warm. My base layers consist of:
- A basic strappy vest top
- A long sleeved jersey.
- *Cowl neck jumper. My favourite winter riding jumper. It’s a fleece Cowl neck jumper from Animal. Very cosy and not too chunky. With the neck being a lot looser means I can tuck it in around my helmet for a cosy fit. You can find similar jumpers on Amazon which are currently on offer.
- *A fleece gilet, an all-round winner, you can buy these fairly cheaply on Amazon again currently on offer. A couple of reasons why I swear by my fleece gilet: 1.They are very warm and thin enough to fit under your jacket 2. They have a turtle neck which can be zipped all the way up and your helmet strap can be fastened over the top to keep you toasty. There is nothing worse than drafty gear in winter.
- Basic pair of leggings. As my jacket comes slightly over my trousers and my boots are longer I don’t tend to find my legs get too cold especially with my winter trousers on. Although if you do feel the cold more you can layer up with tights and leggings.
Now with both my high neck jumpers on, I don’t need to wear a neck warmer. I prefer it like this as there isn’t a gap between my top and neck, for me all in one is best. Although I sometimes add it as am extra layer if a little chillier.
So that’s my winter gear sorted. But I also find I get more issues with the bike come winter. This week alone she has broken down twice! Although nothing serious thankfully. With this in mind there are a few things I would recommend keeping on you during those long winter nights, so if you do breakdown you have everything you need to keep safe and do basic repairs if possibly.
- Portable USB charger an essential bit of kit if you breakdown and you phone battery is running low. You don’t want to be caught out without a phone. Also ideal if you want to recharge your head-cam on longer journeys.
- A decent torch (ideally not the one on your phone to save on battery)
- Basic tool kit that can fit neatly under your seat.
- Something to drink.
A very basic list but you’ll be surprised at what we don’t always think about having on us until we are stuck somewhere. I have broke down twice this week resulting in being outside in the cold for hours on end and being only 6 degrees I was grateful to have my full winter gear on. But annoyed at myself for not having a better toolkit. The one that came with the bike didn’t quite have everything in I needed such as pliers and a half decent screwdriver.
That pretty much sums up my winter essentials! It’s not always the nicest time of the year to ride but if you do choose to do so then make sure you are well prepared and stay safe and comfortable. Happy winter riding!
Don’t forget to check out my basic essentials guide here