Extreme Cold Weather Riding

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by Core10metal, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. Core10metal

    Core10metal Been here awhile

    Nov 1, 2011
    Dirty Jersey...actually, clean north Jersey
    I'm not talking 55°f Los Angeles extreme. More like anything under 10°f - single digits...
    I regularly commute in 20's with no issues at all, but rode for 1 hour in 6°f (-14c, sounds more extreme) this morning with the following gear:
    Ride - 2012 BMW r1200gsa
    Torso - thermal, thermal wind block jacket, First Gear heated jacket, Klim Badlands jacket
    Legs - thermals, thick thermals, First Gear heated pants, Klim Badlands pants
    Feet - Thermal socks, heated socks, Alpinestars Scout boots
    Hands- Heated glove liners, insulated gortex ski gloves. Heated grips
    Head - Balaclava, full face helmet with pinlock and breath guard.

    I cant imagine what the wind chill factor was at 85mph.
    I felt completely stuffed into this gear and had limited flexibility but it was ok and relatively comfortable.
    Torso stayed very warm, arms felt colder than rest of torso. I can feel the heat on my back pretty damn good, maybe too much. Thermostat was set on full. It's the combination of all layers that keep the cold out and keep the heat in. Remove one of the layers and you're screwed.
    Legs were connected to jacket and thermostat was on full, but legs were getting cold quickly and my feet froze. Not sure if something got disconnected during 1 hour ride. I felt like the cold was coming right through to legs. I need a wind block of some sort.
    Had to keep shield cracked because of the extreme condensation build up but it wasn't bad at all. It does get wet in helmet though.
    Hand were warm. Grips were on full and thermostat on gloves was maybe half. Any higher and I would feel hotspots.
    Overall it was fine. Not sure I'd feel comfortable traveling distance without working out the flaws and having backup. I felt that I was pushing the gear to its limit and there wasn't much room for temp drop. I was overall relatively comfortable with the exception of my feet freezing.
    Badlands has absolutely no thermal protection but I wear for crash and weather protection. I think I may be better off with a carhartt arctic insulated coverall.
    I just was curious what you guys do in extreme cold riding. And please don't tell me what you wear in 30° weather because that's just balmy compared to single digits.
    No I won't stop riding so don't even suggest it.
    Also, bike was plugged into battery tender but took a bit to turn over. I had to keep coming out and cranking then charging then cranking. I think the oil was cold and thick. Thinner oil??
  2. huguesfrederic

    huguesfrederic HF

    Jan 20, 2011
    Ottawa, Gatineau
  3. JensEskildsen

    JensEskildsen Long timer

    Mar 24, 2009
    Try slowing down just a bit, helps a lot.
  4. RoteEddie

    RoteEddie Been here awhile

    Jul 25, 2007
    Fjords of Norway
    I have done about 600 km so far in 2013 in freezing temps ranging from -3 to -10 C. My 690 is fitted with studded tires from Mitas. I wear

    upper body
    - 1 layer of Merino wool
    - Warm & Safe gen 4 heated jacket
    - Leatt Body Protector Adventure
    - Dainese jacket
    - BMW gloves on heated grips

    Lower body:
    - 2 layers Merino wool
    - Halvarsson Mercury trousers
    - Merino socks
    - Sidi Crossfire boots

    The only place I get really cold are my toes. If I use my Daytona boots it is better but I prefer the Sidi's for gravel/snow. I have a Warm & Safe trouser on order as I am going for an event called Norwegian Mountain Adventure in February :D

    Life is too short not to ride in the winter!
  5. hahmule

    hahmule Balding Gloriously

    Jan 9, 2007
    Nowhere Valley, CA
    Rode in the teens with no problem with heated gear with less than what you are wearing, and I'm a thin blooded Southern Californian. Make sure that you only have one layer between your skin and the heated garment. Everything else goes on top. Make sure the heated gear fits well, a tailor can usually fit things better than most things come from the factory, just tell him to avoid cutting the wires. If the garment can't be tailored, consider a compression layer on top of the heated garment.

    Heated gloves work better than heated grips, and you may want to look into a handlebar muff, as they work really well. But they aren't for everybody. Importantly, don't turn the heat up such that you sweat. Once you do that, your in for a miserable hot/cold cycle for the rest of the ride, even with the heat at full blast. Lastly, my winter boots are a full size larger than my summer ones to accommodate extra socks.

    I hate the cold enough to live in a desert, I feel ya bro!
  6. pjm204

    pjm204 Long timer

    Jan 28, 2010
    Philadelphia, PA
    I commuted the last 2 winters, regularly into the low double digits and high single digits.
    2006 DL650

    Teiz Lombard V3 with liner
    Schampa full length neck gator
    Gerbings T-5 heated gloves
    HJC AC-12
    Setup Adventure boots

    Long underwear
    Wool socks
    Normal work clothes (slacks, button down, sweater)
  7. spoon

    spoon Rubber's gone!

    May 15, 2007
    Snow in New Mexico
    First understand that I am NOT cold tolerant.And I ride year round roads permitting. Northern NM so the roads permit most of the time.
    Coldest this winter has been single digits F. The secret if there is one, is wind control. I wear W&S jacket liner and gloves with dual controller. As said the heat needs to be next to your skin (one shirt away) then some insulation then wind block. I need handlebar muffs, just heated gloves and grips don't cut it. I use First Gear HT pants with thermals. I also use a large gator to keep the wind from blowing up my pant legs (wind control). High tech. socks. I ride a R1150R and don't know if the cylinders block any wind but I don't have a lot of problem with my feet. The gators may help. Air is the best insulator (as long as its not moving) so leave some room. The outer layer must be wind proof. I also use a neck gator. My biggest problem is the face shield fogging at night. Solar heating is a great thing, as in there is a heck of a lot of difference between 20 F in the sun and 20 F at night. If I don't sit just right the outside of my thighs get cold and I expect this is because air is getting in from somewhere.(under 20F) I am about to try a snowmobile helmet with heated visor. If anyone has experience with this I would like to know what you have found.
    Also my arms get colder that my torso (figure that) so I would like to see jackets with more insulation in the arms.
  8. 2eddies

    2eddies playing in Telluride

    Apr 16, 2010
    Santa Fe, New Mexico, Rocky Mountains, USA
    I ride all Winter long at 7,000 feet and above in the mountains, provided the road is clear and dry and only in the daytime. Can't see "black ice" at night. Earlier this month the ambient temp in the morning was -5 F. Got on the bike wearing good base layer top and pants, Then insulated riding pants, textile or leather. Have Gerbings full sleeve heated jacket, then a 3/4 leather or textile coat with a full sleeve insulated liner. Balaclava or neck gaiter, fulll face helmet, Winter insulated gloves with Goretex and thinsulate. Alpinestar touring boots that are insulated and have Goretex. 25 mile one way commute into town, parts at 55mph, then some miles on the Interstate at 80mph (with a wind chill factor dropping the temps to -20F or more). :eek1 The only thing that gets plugged in is the heated Gerbings jacket.

    Everything stays toasty except the very tips of my fingers which get a little cold. Bike does also have heated grips and windshield on a Suzuki DL1000. After that, any early mornings when it is 20-30F feel positively balmy. :lol3
  9. bmac

    bmac Been here awhile

    Jan 2, 2006
    The one suggestion I would make is to change what you do for your legs. The fact that your legs and feet were getting cold is a clear indication that a change is in order.

    The First gear heated pants may not put out a enough heat and there may be better options but I would not have two layers between your skin and heated gear. It is best to have one thin wicking layer with the heated gear next. It is possible the two layers of thermals is not allowing the heat to work its way in. If you need more I would look for something over the heated gear but that does seem like overkill if the heated gear is working properly.

    Also, make sure the bottom of your pants are sealed tightly around your boots and no air is getting in anywhere.
  10. TonyKZ1

    TonyKZ1 Been here awhile

    Dec 15, 2005
    Marble Hill, MO. U.S.A.
    Try doing this on a Ninja 250 or some other small bike that's "electrically challenged". It gets a little cold sometimes around here in se Missouri but not as cold as the guys up north of course. I think the coldest I've rode in was 12*F, as long as the roads are clear I'm usually riding on them during my 45-60 minute commute to work. I can run either my heated grips or my heated widder vest but not both unfortunately. As others have said, blocking the wind is a major part of the deal and then having the electrics one layer away from your skin.
  11. spoon

    spoon Rubber's gone!

    May 15, 2007
    Snow in New Mexico
    Also I wear a backpack and I think the extra material the backpack provides and the waist cinch helps a lot. A jacket with a belt or a belt over your existing jacket might help.
    2eddies knows about the cooler elements of NM.!!
  12. Goldburg

    Goldburg Been here awhile

    Mar 24, 2009
    Eastern NC
    Heated gloves/grips is all for my 30 minute commute in the teens several times this week. I just saw the backpack comment and I started wearing one this summer and I have thought it is keeping me warmer as well. Maybe I'm not losing heat through my back - maybe I should close that back vent!

    Also surprisingly (switched from a 650 Burgman to a 1200gs this summer) my legs and feet are not getting as cold as I thought they would from losing the full fairing. Same outerwear as last winter.
  13. Drif10

    Drif10 Accredited Jackass

    Jun 12, 2003
    Gates of Moscow
    Sounds like your layers are insulating you from the heated gear.

    For me:

    In -20: long underwear, then heated gear, then insulated suit over that, done.

    Foggy respro in the helmet with a pinlock, fleece tube (Buff) under helmet, over collar. Hippo hands, warm boots.
  14. Turbo Ghost

    Turbo Ghost Been here awhile

    Sep 27, 2008
    The coldest I've ridden was 25 miles at 18 below 0 fahrenheit. Back then, it was lots of layers with leather over them to block the wind. Now, if I'm going to be riding at low temps, I wear a shorty wetsuit with a t-shirt under it to absorb the sweat. I've got Tourmaster gear with insulated liners and just regular riding boots. I wear tourmaster elite gloves which are very nice. The key is keep your core protected from the wind and trap the heat within. It would have to get pretty darn cold for me to turn down a riding opportunity!
  15. TheWorstKind

    TheWorstKind In the Wind

    Nov 18, 2007
    Virginia Beach, VA, USA
    It was 21F yesterday morning. I have a 27 mile commute to get to the office.

    Balclava, Neotech with pinlock.

    T-shirt with button-up shirt over it, then motoport thermal liner, wind liner, mesh kevlar jacket.

    Boxers, jeans, wind liner, mesh kevlar pants.

    Socks, Alpine Stars touring boots.

    Motoport kevlar racing gloves (non-insulated), heated grips, Hippo Hands.

    Bike is a 2011 GS Adventure.

    I am comfortable during my commute. The Hippo Hands are the best farkle ever - being able to wear regular summer gloves rocks. My outer garments (motoport mesh kevlar) provide no protection from the cold weather, but the wind liners and the jacket thermal liner are superb.

    With temps in the high 20s / low 30s, I have had no issues with the pinlock. Yesterday, 21F, sitting at a red light for just under two minutes, top left corner started to get a little foggy. Once I started moving, took a long time to clear up.
  16. Core10metal

    Core10metal Been here awhile

    Nov 1, 2011
    Dirty Jersey...actually, clean north Jersey
    Tried switching layers and put jacket liner closest to my skin...big difference. Thank you for you and others who suggested it.
    Had to tune down thermostat a bit.
    As for legs and feet, well, the electric is somehow not getting to pants and socks. I'm actually surprised then that my layers alone kept me as warm as they did. And god bless those Scout boots. Even though feet were freezing, I made it to work/home without too much discomfort which is saying a lot about the boots in -10° and under windchills. So I have to straighten out the faulty connection.
    I def want to give hippo hands a try. Putting on heated glove liners then ski gloves is a bit of a pain. The thought of wearing comfortable gloves is very appealing.
  17. cliffy109

    cliffy109 Long timer

    May 11, 2009
    Spotsylvania, VA
    I had my coldest commute ever this week. Temp was 8 f. My layering was fine. I have Gerbing pants liners, jacket liner, insoles and gloves. I wore thermal underwear on the bottom with unlined Aerostich Darien pants. On top, I have a BMW Tourance 2 jacket and was toasty warm.

    The problem was the helmet. I have a Pinlock that seems to not fit correctly. About half way to work (total commute is 16 miles), the fog filled the inner shield and had frozen. I had to stop at a grocery store and stand inside for 5 minutes to let it thaw. I pushed the inner shield up to make a good seal and continued my ride in with no problems.

    Ice on the inside of the helmet is a ride stopper.
  18. spoon

    spoon Rubber's gone!

    May 15, 2007
    Snow in New Mexico
    http://warmlite.com/vapor-barrier this is a good read. The tech section on the Stevenson Tent site has some interesting concepts. They also make some good camping gear. Glad to see folks interested in cold weather riding and finding ways to overcome the challenges. Gives you a new outlook on the old timers and the gear they had available to them. A tougher breed for sure.
  19. Ceri JC

    Ceri JC UK GSer

    Sep 14, 2009
    All over, usually Wales or England
    I found this to be the limiting factor to winter riding too. It's all well and good saying to man up and open the visor, but heavy snow in your eyes at 70mph results in visibility is as bad as a frozen visor. I have taken to carrying a pair of ski goggles with me, when I go out expecting it to get really cold.

    Yes, they robs you of peripheral vision.
    Yes, they aren't designed for motorcycling.
    Yes, they aren't going to protect you from a stone in the face as well as MX goggles can.
    Yes, they are illegal in some places as they don't meet the requirements of the "eye protection" standards.
    Yes, they are colder than riding with your visor closed

    Nevertheless, they are preferable (IE safer) than riding in heavy snow without any visor, they are relatively cheap and their intended application means they deal with snow on the lense and extremely cold temperatures far better than anything designed for motorcycling does.

    I would recommend wearing a balaclava under your helmet if going down this route, even if your helmet (with the visor shut) is warm enough for you not to warrant one. Once the visor is up on the highway, it gets very, very cold, particularly on the thin/sensitive skin of your cheeks, just under your eyes.
  20. Ironfish653

    Ironfish653 Combat Commuter

    Nov 30, 2006
    Every Damn Day
    Yup, same here. My old Caberg flat sucks in cold, it seals the wind out, but there's not enough venting to keep the shield clear w/out leaving it open.

    Had an unavoidable ride in 34* rain/snow mix, and discovered that my cheapest stuff actually worked the best:
    My $99 Bilt 'Explorer' D/S helmet has a full shield that will close tight over my Oakley ski goggles.
    Worn over a Schampa balaclva, to keep my face warm, if i'm moving more than 20mph, it clears almost instantly.

    Now, I just need better boots...