Riding a motorcycle certainly has it’s perks, but unfortunately there are a few downsides to riding, too. One of those downsides is that you’re not in an enclosed area like you are with a car, so heating and air conditioning on a motorcycle isn’t possible.
Most of us choose to stay off our motorcycles during the winter. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get caught in a situation sometime in your life where you’re riding during cold weather. Cold weather riding means cold extremities which makes any ride miserable. Some of the main extremities that’ll be affected are your legs.
So, how do you keep your legs warm on a motorcycle? The best way to keep your legs warm on a motorcycle is wearing wind-proof and water resistant pants over regular pants. The bottom of the pants need to be tucked in to tall socks to prevent any wind chill going up the pants. Leg heaters are also available if needed and can to be placed underneath pants.
It’s no secret that cold legs during a motorcycle ride can ruin your day. The rushing cold wind against your legs sometimes seems to be merciless and unfortunately legs are what gets some of the harshest impact from the cold. There are several ways you can prepare yourself for cold weather riding to protect your legs.
Keeping Your Legs Warm
Most experienced riders know what it’s like riding in the cold which in turn, freezes their legs. Having cold legs during a ride can be dangerous to both your safety and health, especially for longer periods of time.
Luckily there are several ways you can keep your legs warm during even the coldest of winter days. When we go out for a ride, we usually think of the obvious things to wear such as thick boots, a warm jacket, a defogged helmet, and a good pair of gloves. While these are all important things to have, most people forget about keeping their legs warm A simple pair of jeans just won’t cut it in the cold.
The best way to keep your legs warm is to wear a good, warm set of pants and wear a set of wind-resistant, water proof pants over those. I recommend these rain pants (found on Motosport.com).
These will do an excellent job at keeping the wind away from your legs. They are also tighter around the ankles, so stuffing them under socks will be simple. The only complaint I’ve seen about these is that they’re a bit too insulated. They’re also easy to take off when you finish riding so you can go about your business normally.
If using wind-resistant pants doesn’t seem like it’ll be enough to keep your legs warm while you ride, you can always try using calf wraps (found on Amazon.com). These were originally made for tight leg muscles but they work perfect to keep your legs a bit warmer during a cold ride.
These calf wraps have a separate pad that you can microwave to heat up and can be placed inside the wrap. You’ll need loose pants to get them to fit, but the warmth they provide can last anywhere between 1-2 hours.
What You Should Do Before A Cold Ride
Aside from making sure you have the right riding gear to keep you and your legs warm when going out for a cold motorcycle ride, there are a few things you can do for you and your legs before to make sure you don’t have any discomfort or problems.
Making sure your legs are warm to begin with is important. Starting your ride after being outside for a while will be no benefit for you or the comfort of your legs because your body temperature will only drop further from there.
If you know it’s going to be a cold ride, it’s a good idea to get the circulation in your legs pumping by doing a few legs exercises. Such exercises may include lunges, jumps, and squats. Starting off a cold motorcycle ride with good leg circulation will not only keep your legs warmer longer, but it will also prevent getting a few cramps that the cold can cause.
Drinking lots of water and eating a high protein and carbohydrate meal beforehand can also greatly help your cold situation. Water with fresh protein and carbs circulating through your body increases blood flow which can really help keep your legs warm.
The Dangers Of Riding With Cold Legs
Yes, riding with freezing legs is super inconvenient, not to mention uncomfortable. But there’s actually a few health and safety disadvantages that you may not know about.
First, when your legs are cold, they have a lot slower response to what you want them to do. So If you have to come to a stop that requires you to put your feet down for balance, your legs may be a bit slow and you could potentially lose your balance.
When there are certain parts of the body that are exposed to the cold, that part of the body will likely have slower circulation of blood throughout. If you have cold legs, that will mean there will be poor circulation leading down to your feet. It’s similar to your arm falling asleep while you’re sleeping; a certain part of your arm’s circulation is cut off, so your whole arm (including hands) loses circulation.
Adding cold feet and toes to the mix can make your ride that much more miserable. This can increase your chances of shivering which can lead to occasional spasms throughout your body. Though it’s unlikely a spasm would make you lose your balance on your bike, it’s still a possibility.
Having any part of your body exposed to cold temperatures can increase your risk of hypothermia. When your core temperature starts to lower, the blood circulation automatically starts to flow to the major organs of the body to protect them. So the low circulation in your cold legs becomes even lower which then increases your chances of frost bite.
What To Do When Your Legs Get Cold
Getting caught in the cold during a motorcycle ride unprepared is inevitable for a seasoned rider. Whether we didn’t look at the weather before or an unexpected storm happened, unexpected cold weather riding happens to even the best of riders.
If you find yourself in this situation either unprepared or you thought you were prepared but your legs still froze, there are few things you should do to maintain your health and safety. If possible, you should stop riding and/or go straight home. If that’s not possible, go to the nearest stop that will provide you warmth. Wait out the cold and/or storm for as long as possible.
Once you stop, make sure to do a few leg exercises (like mentioned earlier) to make sure the blood is flowing through your legs. This will also help circulation to your feet and toes and prevent them from freezing too.
Winter riding isn’t the safest activities for several reasons including ice, obstructed views, and unaware drivers. So staying out of the cold weather will 100% ensure your safety.
If you have no choice but to keep riding, you’ll at least need to make a pit stop at a gas station or somewhere similar. Though gas stations don’t sell wind-resistant pants, they do sell a few items that could help you. First, make sure you drink plenty of fluids (water preferably) and eat a meal with protein in it.
If it’s raining or snowing outside, you’ll want to protect your legs from the water. Wetness greatly increases chances of hypothermia. See if the gas station or a nearby store has some sort of poncho you can put over yourself. It may be a bit noisy in the wind, but securing it to your body to keep the unwanted moisture out is worth it.
Most convenient stores also have hand warmers you can buy. These are easily activated by simply rubbing them. You can try buying several of these and placing them in your shoes and tie a few around your legs.
Does leather keep you warm on a motorcycle? Wearing leather while riding is traditionally used for protection, but it can still provide some warmth. To maintain optimal comfort, wear a leather jack or chops over some other layers that were meant to keep you warm.
Can you keep a motorcycle outside in the winter? You can keep a motorcycle outside in the winter as long it has been properly prepared for the season and it is dressed with a good, reliable cover to prevent any water or moisture from getting in places that could cause damage. Click here to see my article for more info.