Although Midwestern summers rarely reach 100 degrees, we still see 90-95 degree days. I thought I would list what hot weather motorcycle gear works for me and why I choose to ride with this gear.
Good mesh motorcycle jacket
A good mesh motorcycle jacket will provide ample airflow, which will keep your core from sweating like a sauna. It will also protect your back, shoulders, elbows, ribs, and forearms with armor.
I use a Joe Rocket Phoenix 5.0 jacket, which is waterproof. I am pleased with the amount of protection it provides.
My Joe Rocket mesh jacket shoulders and elbows feature C.E. approved armor. The back protector is not C.E. approved and can be upgraded if you want better back protection. It has plenty of pockets.
It does get hot in 85+ degree heat, like most jackets will, but I am comfortable in it from 50 degrees to 85 degrees. Below 75 degrees, it feels like I am wearing just a tee-shirt. Above 85 degrees and I just sweat — no ifs ands or buts.
My Joe Rocket mesh jacket has more of an American cut, rather than a European cut. The sizing chart they had was spot on for me. I liked that they had a tall option, which is what I chose.
Good motorcycle riding gloves for warm weather
When I first started riding motorcycles, I used leather gloves with Thinsulate. Those winter gloves were not ideal. They were hot!
A pair of good summer motorcycle riding gloves will have the necessary armor on the high spots — where you hand and fingers are likely to touch pavement in a slide — but may also have a mesh-like weaving on the low spots of the glove. This is to help keep your hands cool during the dog days of summer.
I like a good wicking base layer. Whether it is an inexpensive wicking shirt from one of the big box stores or a high-end wicking shirt, they are so much better than cotton.
Cotton collect sweat and it sticks to your body. A good wicking shirt won’t do that. It will wick it away from your body and the breeze from riding will dissipate it.
You will feel much cooler with the appropriate base layer.
Cotton underwear are the worst when riding a motorcycle because they pool sweat, which is not what you want in your nether regions.
Sweat in that region can cause hygiene issues.
A pair of good moisture wicking underwear is best. Most popular underwear makers have a boxer brief that will wick moisture.
Again, socks that keep the sweat away from your body are best. Moisture wicking characteristics really are the different, in my mind, between a comfortable ride and getting off the bike being drenched in sweat.
Why wear motorcycle gear in hot weather?
Every motorcyclist deals with the “do I wear gear or not” question. It is a personal preference — a decision you need to make on your own.
Far too often, people think they are invincible when they have gear and can walk away from a crash at speed. Then, they ride like hooligans, buring the throttle around corners and dragging their knees on the street. They are reckless.
Gear may offer some protection in a slide or crash, but the best protection is to ride your motorcycle safely — not reckless.
Granted, a crash may not be your fault. That is why wearing motorcycle gear comes down to risk mitigation, in my mind.
I know what risks I am willing to take and the ones I am not based on how they could impact me.
This is why I believe riding with gear is a choice. Nobody should tell you how to live your life. Make your own decisions.
I have full respect for anyone who rides a motorcycle — whether they ride in full gear, with some gear, or no gear. Freedom is a great thing.
What I wear riding in the heat
I wear a helmet, summer motorcycle gloves, mesh jacket, and boots when I ride my motorcycle in the heat. I do not wear motorcycle riding pants. I also wear base layer clothing that wicks away sweat.
The helmet protects the my most vital organ — my brain. For me, the helmet is essential in hot weather and cold weather, from short rides to long rides. I wear a full-face helmet because it offers the best protection. My is Snell and DOT certified.
In the event of a slide, my elbows, shoulders, and hands are possibly protected from road rash by the jacket. My legs are not. The jacket does have armor, but I mainly wear upper body gear to prevent road rash. I understand a broken bone or two may result from impact with a vehicle at lower speeds.
From what I have read, the average speed of a crash is 21.5 mph, according to the Hurt Report.
I do not wear a chest protector, which protects the thoracic region from g-force impacts.
About my legs: I am willing to accept road rash on my legs in a crash. It is a risk I am willing to take. Riding pants are a hassle when I am running errands or commuting with my bike. I don’t wear them.
Anecdotal example: About five years ago my confidence level was much higher than my abilities in the rain. During my second day of practicing in a parking lot, I slid out leaning the bike going about 20 miles per hour or so. The jeans ripped at the knee. I got road rash.