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Hot Weather Riding 2021 - Gear and Guidelines

The temperatures around Dallas have been steadily creeping up, and it’s going to get worse. While we almost take Texas heat as a matter of pride (because if we can survive our blistering summers and ridiculous humidity, we can take anything, right?) in other parts of the U.S. this year, it’s even more intense. If you’re traveling you might find yourself heading from the frying pan into the actual fire.

However, Harley® riders are by nature tougher than the rest. Most the ones we know aren’t going to sit inside and whine about the heat just because the mercury keeps rising. Plus, in recent years cooling technology, gear and gadgets have evolved. So let’s talk about how to stay cool when you’re riding your motorcycle in 2021.

How Hot is Too Hot to Ride?

How hot is too hot to go for a motorcycle ride? That depends on who you ask. For some riders, staying in at any temperature could mean a missed opportunity. Others aim for a little more caution and moderation.

On one Harley forum*, Healey2Harley said, “If you don’t ride in triple digits in Texas you don’t ride in the summer. I find long sleeves actually help on a trip. As I tell those asking about the heat; my air conditioning works just fine, it’s the sun roof that’s broken. Keep plenty of water handy and acclimate.” 

Another respondent said, “Too hot? Too cold? Too wet? Too dry? C’mon, really? If I plan to ride, I ride. Period.” 

Many riders say they’ll ride when the temperature is over 100 degrees, but others point out, comfort levels are individual. It’s better to listen to yourself than to base your riding on someone else’s number.

“Really don’t know what my upper LIMIT might be but I know when it’s just not fun,” a New Mexico resident said. “85 for me and not muggy,” said a Syracuse rider. “Can’t breathe if it’s hotter or muggier than that.”

If you’re taking a summer road trip or planning a long weekend ride in the heat, take summer seriously. Heat emergencies will ruin your day and can be life threatening. Plus, some people who experience heat stroke or heat exhaustion become more heat sensitive going forward, so their riding comfort threshold never goes back to what it once was.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Heat emergencies are caused because of exposure to high temperatures and sun**. Stages include heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Once you start experiencing symptoms, don’t waste time trying to figure out which one it might be because they’re all serious and whatever stage you’re in, you don’t want to progress to the next.

Heat cramps feel like muscle pain and tightness. That’s the first signal you need to pull over, hydrate and cool off. Signs you might have heat exhaustion include:

  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Elevated breathing or heart rate
  • Headache
  • Intense thirst
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heavy sweating

Basically if it’s hot, you’re riding, and you start to feel like crap, don’t let your ego get involved. You can’t help how your body is responding to the heat in that moment, but you can take charge to keep things from getting worse.

Weather Predictions for 2021

The 2021 Farmer’s Almanac predicts*** summer 2021 will be stormy and hot, with more than average summer rainstorms and possible widespread tornadoes. Summer temperatures are predicted to be above normal for the South and East, especially in late July and early August, but lasting into September.

If you’re traveling, predictions say it will be “oppressively hot with searing temperatures” for Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. The entire West Coast will be hot and dry. The southern portion of the East Coast will be “Sweltering, thundery.”

Practical Solutions

Recommendations for avoiding heat emergencies in the first place say:

  • Cover your skin with loose fitting, lightweight clothing
  • Keep your skin covered so you don’t get sunburn
  • Drink tons of fluids (not ones that contain alcohol or caffeine)
  • Acclimate gradually

Ride early or late. Look for wooded roads, especially those that run alongside water since those areas are often a few degrees cooler. Avoid drinking alcohol the day before if you’re going to be riding because drinking leads to dehydration and increases your risk of heat exhaustion.

Hot Weather Riding Gear

One of the best pieces of riding gear for summer is a mesh jacket. The ones you’ll find at our local Harley shop are lightweight and breathable, but they also have reinforced shoulders and elbows to keep you protected. You get maximum airflow and maximum protection.

A ventilated helmet also makes a huge difference, and if you don’t have one, now is the time to buy. July is Helmet Awareness Month, and right now we’re offering $50 off a new helmet when you trade in your DOT-approved old one.

Check out our riding pants, some of which have panels that are basically nothing but mesh. We have shirts that wick moisture and actually cool your body as they do.

Some riders swear by motorcycle hydration systems. We sell several options that are like a backpack that holds fluids with a tube you can sip from whenever you need. Cool fluids against your back and down your throat can make all the difference.

We're happy to help you tailor your warm weather riding gear to your plans and budget. Talk to the chat guy in the lower corner of your screen or come see us at Dallas Harley-Davidson in Garland TX.