Posted: 03 Nov 2013
The clocks have gone back and the cold winter nights are drawing in and the weather is rapidly deteriorating. But that’s no excuse to put the bike away if you don’t want to… Today the market is full of products to protect you from the winter weather, here we provide a few tips on what you should be buying to stay warm, dry and safe during the winter months.
With clothing, it’s important to have garments that will keep you warm and dry but they also need to allow perspiration to be expelled. Most global travellers will tell you any bit of kit with Gore-Tex fabric is the best, Gore-Tex is based on polytetrafluroethylene or PTFE tape – the same stuff used to wrap around plumbing connector threads. It is stretched and stetched to allow moisture to wick through to open air but not let droplets back through. Gore-tex fabric is usually found as a waterproof membrane in gear manufactured by quality companies such as Alpinestars, Dainese, Rukka, Held and more. There are similar materials available but they’re generally poor copies of Gore-Tex.
Gore-Tex deals with the wet but it’s loose thermal layers that keep you warm (combat wind chill and retain/reflect body heat), again check out companies such as Alpinestars and Daineses for quality thermals, or you could check out climbing/walking sites.
One of the biggest problems in winter is keeping a visor clean. Just one splash of rock salt infused surface water/sludge can leave you blinded especially if it dries or is smeared by a glove when still wet. It can also scratch if rubbed. One of the best things to use is the Wee Willy, a visor cleaning kit consisting of a small pump spray bottle that can be filled with cleaning fluid or water and has a sponge and rubber scraping blade on the outside. There are buffing cloths included. The pump bottle is small enough to be carried in a jacket pocket and it is invaluable, especially at night time. A cheap alternative is a tennis ball with a quarter section cut away and cable tied to the handlebars, place a wet (preferably natural) sponge in the tennis ball and you have an easily accessible visor cleaner on the move.
One of the best items in defence against winter is heated clothing. Many makes are available and every user will recommend whatever they’ve used. In this case, if you aren’t sure it’s best to check out reviews for the best value and reputation. Ideally buyers should look for a system where heated gloves/liners and jacket/trouser/boot liners can be linked in series and the temperature and individual garments have the facility to be thermostatically controlled (one main thermostat in an easy to reach position mounted on the bike or hanging from the clothing is a good idea). Never wire these things direct to the battery but via the ignition system to avoid the battery going flat if you leave the system on the bike.
It’s common practice today for helmet manufacturers to include a Pinlock anti-fogging shield that fits to the inside of the visor and is brilliant in the rain or cold when hot breath mists the visor. The shields work in two ways: the plastic shield actively absorbs moisture and the silicone seal used to attach the shield acts as double-glazing by forming a thin layer of still air. The light reactive Pinlocks are cool because they darken at the odd ray of sunlight and remain clear at night, the downside is they are expensive.. Of course, Pinlock is only as good as the visor so it’s recommended that a new visor is installed before the icy grip of winter grabs hold.