Stay Cool and Beat the Heat on a Motorcycle

Why let summer heat get in the way of your riding? Here are five tips to help you stay cool on two wheels.

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Motorcycle helmet ventilation flow

Most helmets and motorcycle gear are equipped with vents, and it's easy to forget and leave them closed. Avoid hot air suffocation by double-checking to make sure your vents are open for maximum airflow. Bonus points if you've got a friend that can check hard to reach zippers, like the ventilation openings on the back of your jacket.

Another less obvious way to get some airflow is to (carefully) stand on your pegs or stick your legs out while moving; that way you'll momentarily escape the stagnant pocket of air created by your bike, which can be significant on fully faired motorcycles or engines that run hot.

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Get Wet

Motorcycle racer in water
Getty Images

Under extreme heat conditions when your core temperature has been elevated for prolonged periods, few things feel better than pulling over and dousing yourself with water. The feeling probably won't last as long as you'd like, but the evaporative cooling effect will at least take the edge off your discomfort.

Jorge Lorenzo (image above) may have taken it a bit far with his victory swim after winning at the Circuito de Jerez, but you'll do well by drenching your t-shirt with cool water or throwing a wet towel over your head during a roadside break.

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Wear Breathable Gear

Motorcycle glove

You should never sacrifice safety for comfort; after all, a little sweat and stink sure beats road rash and blood. That said, if you're spending any time doing summer riding, a solid set of ventilated and armored gear will keep you far more comfortable than that old set of leathers. Word of warning: textiles can't match the abrasion resistance of leathers, and mesh materials are more likely to break apart in a crash, so keep in mind that every choice in hot weather gear is an exercise in compromise. Choose wisely, and you'll strike a balance that suits your needs.

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Hydrate Like Crazy

Camelbak hydration pack

Riding in hot weather has a deceptive effect on your body, as sweat can evaporate quickly and drain you of electrolytes faster than you realize. Dehydration becomes especially dangerous when it sneaks up on the road; the last thing you want is a dizzy spell while cruising along at 70 mph.

Stay on top of things by drinking more water than you think you need, and use rest stops to stretch and take a bathroom break; it will pay off down the road, and keep your mind sharp enough to speed up your reflexes and help you make better decisions. If you've got mileage on your mind, do what the dual sport riders do and wear your hydration like a backpack like a Camelbak.

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Set up Your Bike to Cope With the Heat

Fairing vent on a motorcycle
Basem Wasef

Maximum airflow means optimal opportunities for staying cool, and some bikes are better equipped at fending off heat than others. But that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to help your motorcycle keep you cool.

The easiest way to increase your comfort in hot weather is to open fairing vents, if you have them, that will keep air moving around you. Similarly, if a windscreen is removable, you might try ditching it for the summer.

If your bike has a propensity for running hot, you might want to investigate aftermarket solutions for ways to redirect engine heat. You probably won't go as far as installing air conditioning, but you might be surprised how many solutions become available with the proper research.