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How to Ride All Summer Without Melting in the Heat

The Texas thermostat is stuck on furnace and the long-range forecast offers little hope for change. It’s either park the bike or learn to deal with it. But there are things you can do to beat the heat and keep your rides to an enjoyable experience. If you don’t want to roll up feeling like Ghost Rider engulfed in flames, try these tips.

Ride Early and Late

Time your rides so you don’t get stuck in traffic during the heat of the day. At the time this article is being written, it’s still in the 80’s most mornings until the sun has been up a few hours, and temperatures start to drop again toward dusk. That makes a huge difference in terms of how enjoyable it is to be outside. If you have a lot of miles to cover, plan a long lunch and a siesta in the shade for the hottest part of the day.

It also helps to plan around traffic. Moving air is cool. Sitting on an idling motorcycle in full sun is hot. If you can get through areas that are likely to be congested during off peak hours, you won't have to sit and stew in your own juices.

Get a Rider Hydration System

Camelbak is the most widely known name in hydration bladders, but we carry several different types in the store. Basically, a hydration system is a compact backpack that holds fluids and allows riders to drink them through a tube as needed. This makes a huge impact on whether or not you stay cool while motorcycle riding for a few reasons.

First, your body is built to cool itself through sweat. For that to work, you have to stay hydrated. Second, most of them are insulated, so if you fill them with cool liquids, your favorite beverage stays icy even as the temperature rises.

Water is always the most recommended liquid for staying hydrated, but these are also good options:

  • Caffeine-free tea
  • Sports drinks with electrolytes
  • Coconut water
  • Fruit juice

Avoid Things That Dehydrate

There are best choices for staying hydrated, and there are worst choices. If you know you’re going to ride, avoid caffeine because it’s a diuretic. Alcohol is a dehydrator. People also don’t always think about the caffeine in sodas. Swap your cola for sparkling water to make your body more efficient at beating the heat.

While you should avoid alcohol, that doesn't mean you can't spend a few minutes in the beer cave. Many gas stations have a room for chilling alcohol, and it can help drop your body temperature too. Throw some water on the back of your neck in the bathroom, then step in the cooler for a few minutes to cool off during fuel stops. 

Try a Cooling Vest

Some cooling vests are meant to be soaked in water, then they wick away the moisture to keep you cool as they dry. Others like this one from H-D® have pockets into which riders can insert ice packs. Either way, they reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and rider fatigue.

If a cooling vest isn’t in the budget, try soaking your shirt in cold water before you hit the road. Even putting a wet bandana around your neck can make a difference.

Cover Your Skin

It seems counter-intuitive. At first you'd think more exposed skin would mean more evaporative cooling. For a short ride that's true. But if you're spending hours on the road in the heat of the day, you want moisture wicking synthetic layers and/or mesh. Mesh pants or riding jeans will help keep your legs cool while at the same time protecting you from the possibility of abrasions.

Store your heavy insulated gloves and opt for ones that are lighter weight. Short gloves are cooler than gauntlet style ones that wrap around the wrist. However, if you have a sliver of skin that gets exposed at the wrist when you roll on the throttle, apply sunscreen so you don't end up with an angry sunburn.

Maintain Your Bike

There's never a good time to get stranded on the side of the road because you didn't take care of your bike. But just think of how mad you'll be at yourself if it's over 100 degrees, you have a long way to go to reach your destination and you ran out of water a long time ago. If you need service, book it here.

Remember that temperature affects tire pressure, and properly inflated tires are essential to safety. Check your pressure before you hit the road and adjust as needed.

Know The Signs of Overheating

Heat illness can be heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and it sneaks up on you. When you're on a motorcycle concentrating on the road and the air is moving past you, you might not realize what's happening to your body. Watch out for these signs you're getting too hot:

  • Extremely heavy sweating
  • Unusual weakness or fatigue
  • Accelerated breathing
  • A racing pulse
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Headache
  • An elevated body temperature
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A lack of sweating

We're not medical professionals, this isn't medical advice and everyone's body reacts differently, so your symptoms may be different. But if you start to notice your body isn't feeling like it does normally, pull over immediately and get cooled off, then reassess. Heat illness can go from bad to worse in minutes.

Get Ready for Sturgis

If you're headed to Sturgis 2022, this month's promo is for you. Our ultimate pre-trip checkup includes lube oil and filter, a 22 point inspection, checking all critical fasteners, pivot points lubed, a tire/shock pressure check and belt adjustment for just $199, and we'll even throw in a free bike wash. Some restrictions apply, as usual see dealer for details.