While motorcycle newbies might think that summer is the ideal time for a ride with warm breezes, road trips, and summer rallies — the veterans know that summer rides present their own challenges. With blue skies and rising temperatures also comes the risk of dehydration, heat stroke, and careless drivers who are also feeling a liberated by the season.
Layers of protective gear and motorcycles go hand-in-hand all year round. Many riders mistake the warmer weather for an opportunity to skimp on safety gear but a valid argument can be made for increasing your safety precautions during the summer. Necessary layers protect you from the elements, molten hot pavement, and the potential for impact.
These are our picks for must-have summer motorcycle gear to stay comfortable and safe on the road until fall.
Top 5 Pieces of Summer Safety Gear for Motorcyclists
1. Vented Motorcycle Helmet
A vented helmet provides a night-and-day difference for summer riding, especially if you’re wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet (which you should be, for safety). While most helmets appear to look the same, it’s best to opt for a racing helmet. Racing helmets have a wide venting system that is built for excellent airflow for riders moving at intensely high speeds.
2. Mesh and Vented Motorcycle Jacket
Stave off heat stroke with a lighter layer of protection. Leather is the best materials for riding in the fall or winter because it’s quite literally a second skin. This extra protection is great if you happen to hit the pavement and it provides great warmth and insulation. In the summer, however, it’s a like wearing a deep fryer. Instead, be prepared with a motorcycle jacket that is built for the heat. Motorcycle jackets like these are loaded with vents and cooling mesh materials. Even without the protection of leather, today’s athletic textile technology provides a ton of crash protection and armor where you need it most, while maintaining breathability so you don’t cook yourself.
3. Long Pants
Sure, it may be the season for shorts, but leaving your legs fully exposed to asphalt and gravel is a bad idea in the event of an accident. Just like the mesh and vented motorcycle jacket, you can purchase their pants equivalent. All the safety protection you need without roasting your legs. Vented air panels in these specially designed pants provide great airflow. Throw a pair of shorts in your saddle bag if you need them once you get to where you’re going.
4. Gloves and Boots
Motorcycle gloves and boots are a no-brainer in the fall and winter but might not be second nature during the summer. Under no circumstances should you be riding with flip flops or sandals. Again, if you need sandals once you arrive at your location, put them in the saddle bag. Summer gloves and motorcycle boots will not only keep you safe during a crash, they’ll also make handling hot hand grips and foot pegs easier.
5. Cooling Vest
A more recent addition to summer motorcycle gear, cooling vests are worth the money if you live in an especially hot climate. Basically an air conditioner, cooling vests can be soaked in water for just a few minutes, then wrung out to keep them from dripping on you. The vests are worn underneath a vented jacket to keep heat off you while you ride — for hours. When the cooling stops, just resoak the jacket and you’re good to go.
Dehydration is a constant threat to riders in the summer, so make sure you’re hydrated before you get on the road and have plenty of water and Gatorade in your saddle bag. Summer motorcycle gear is designed to help you feel cool, but the effects of the sun will still take it out of you often without you noticing. Be safe out there!