Warm sunny days are still two or six weeks away for those of us in the northern regions (depending on your groundhog of choice) — and yet taking your motorcycle out for a few “pre-season” blasts can be a joyous, refreshing experience. At 55 mph a simple flip of your visor is like downing a triple shot of your favorite espresso; at 85 it’s even better.
Hell, a simple whiff of spring air mixed with just a touch of exhaust is enough to give you the stamina of Sting — provided you’ve prepared. Otherwise, there’ll be much shivering and an early decision to head back to the heated garage. We’ve lined up our own personal arsenal for your cold-weather-riding pleasure.
Racer Dynamic II Gloves
The words frosted and tips should only ever be used together when referencing bad hair decisions of the early ’90s or a Saved by the Bell reunion. The new Racer Gloves Dynamic II go a long way towards making sure that’s the case for riders looking to brave the cold. Lined in Polartec fleece and featuring Dexfil insulation, the Dynamic IIs provide warmth without adding too much bulk. A pittards leather palm maintains haptic dexterity on the bars, while a Gore-Tex membrane keeps things nice and dry — a feature backed by a five-year warranty. Racer Gloves are some of the best-fitting gauntlets out there, but be sure to follow their measurement advice — a large-sized pair of gloves usually works, but in the Dynamic IIs an XXL set is ideal.
Shark Explore R Helmet
The Shark Explore R helmet is the most flexible lid we’ve come across yet. In seconds, the full-faced bucket can transform into any one of four configurations by adding or removing the included peak, visor or goggles. Regardless of your riding style, the Explore R is designed to suit off-roaders, tourers and knee-draggers alike. And, it weighs in at a svelte 1450 grams. For winter riding, regardless of terrain, we’d keep the visor installed thanks to Shark’s new auto-seal system that creates an air- and watertight barrier at the eye port to keep the bitter winds out of your face. There’s even an integrated neck gaiter that unfurls from the helmet’s liner to completely block out the cold.
Rev’It Memphis H2O Pants
Proper, protective riding jeans are a thing of beauty. They deliver imperative function in an ideal form. And now, thanks to Rev’It’s new Memphis H2O jeans, they keep you warm and dry in the saddle. The Memphis are the first riding jeans to boast 100 percent waterproof effectiveness, thanks to their combination of water-resistant coated denim and Rev’It’s proprietary Hydratex liner. The outer fabric keeps the elements out, while the integrated abrasion-resistant layer and Knox armor protect riders from bashes and rashes. And, conveniently, the Memphis jeans are roomy enough through the seat and leg to allow for a thicker thermal first layer, plus all the zippers are seam sealed.
Klim Arctic GTX Boots
With looks that match your pegs or your favorite snowboard, the Klim Arctic GTX Boots offer more than just good looks. They boast unrivaled thermal foot protection with 1,200 grams of Thinsulate lining the body, 600 grams through the midsole and a further 400 grams woven into the removable insole. The Arctic GTXs also boast a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex (GTX, get it?) membrane that fully surrounds all that Thinsulate, as well as a moisture-wicking layer to fend off trench foot on even the dampest of days. Best of all, with their aggressive tread pattern, these boots should work on shovel duty, so you can free your beast from its wintery hideout before we finally score that full thaw.
Spidi Ergo 365 Pro Expedition H2Out Jacket
If you’re looking for a riding jacket that can handle year round life on the road, the Spidi Ergo 365 Pro Expedition H2Out is it. With three zip-in/zip-out layers, the Ergo 365 is designed to tackle temperature ranges running from 14 to 104 degrees, all while keeping riders protected from both abrasions and impacts. The Ergo 365 meets CE 13595-1 certification, and protects better than most leather layers do. Waterproof pockets serve double duty as standalone pouches and the rear-mounted map pocket quickly becomes a tank bag to keep you on point. An integrated hydration pack is also included — which could easily be topped up with your favorite hot beverage should things start to get real frosty.