How to Stay Cool on Your Motorcycle

Tip #56-57 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

motorcycle riding on a bright hot day

Those same five heat-loss mechanisms you may remember from TIP #54 (radiation, respiration, conduction, convection, and perspiration) can also work to cool you down in hot weather.

STAY COVERED Ever seen a picture of a Touareg tribesman in the Sahara? He's covered from head to foot. Only soon-to-be-broiled tourists go out wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Riding a bike through hot air is like standing in front of a blow dryer. Cover up, or you'll end up as beef jerky.

VENT YOUR ANGER Controlled airflow is your friend—especially through your helmet, gloves, and jacket. Look for clothing with vents you can zip open. Even better are nylon mesh jackets with removable cold-weather liners.

HYDRATE YOUR CLOTHING Soak your clothes before you hit the road. And if you can't water down everything, then pay special attention to your neck. A damp bandana can make a big difference.

HYDRATE YOURSELF When your bike runs low on fluids, it seizes up. So do you. Your brain will shrink to the size of a pinto bean and start rattling around in your skull. Poor decisions immediately follow. The big get-off will follow soon after that.

TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS Need to wait for your buddies who are back down the trail flopping like carp and blowing bubbles? Find some shade, unzip your jacket, and take off your helmet.


Motorcycles don’t come with air conditioners (yet!), but you can improvise your own. How? At your next gas stop, fill your pockets and daypack with ice. You don’t need much, and you can often score enough for free out of the soft-drink vending machine. The ice itself is cold of course, and as it melts, the water evaporates and takes heat with it. Works best with synthetic jackets. Alternatively, take along some of those soft, refreezeable ice packs used in coolers and put them close to your hide under your jacket.