Hot weather riding: tips to avoid heat stress for motorcycle riders
Riding in extreme temperatures not only feels like having a giant hair dryer blowing at you, but it can also be very dangerous. The beginnings of heat stroke can affect your judgement and impair your ability to ride a motorcycle safely. But you don’t need to let the heat keep you off your bike! If you ride safely and take precautions you can beat the heat. In addition to wearing cooling apparel, here are some suggestions for keeping safe from heat stroke while riding in extreme heats:
1) Watch carefully for signs of Heat Stroke.
Your body will send you signals if it’s having trouble with the heat, these may include:
- extreme fatigue,
- flushed or pale skin,
- heavy sweating
Left unchecked, you can develop heat exhaustion, which is a form of mild shock. If you’re feeling these symptoms, it’s time to pull over, rehydrate, rest and recover for as long as it takes. Don’t be in a rush to get back on the bike – sometimes a rider doesn’t want to inconvenience their friends by holding things up. How long do you think a trip to the hospital will hold up the ride?
If heat exhaustion is allowed to develop into Heat Stroke, you’re in big trouble. Your cooling system shuts down, and body temperature can rise to as high as 40ºC. Brain damage is possible and at the very least, you’ll likely have an erratic pulse and trouble breathing. People with heat stroke often pass out – not something you want to happen when you’re riding.
2) Avoid riding during the hottest part of the day.
Take a siesta during the heat, and ride earlier or later in the day If it’s too hot, wait until a cooler part of the day to ride.
3) Bring more water than you think you’ll need.
Water is vital for keeping the body cool, but it also is necessary for digestion, for flushing toxins out of your body, and for lubricating your joints. It also cushions your organs and tissues, so when you get dehydrated, your body just won’t work properly, things will start to shut down, and you’ll physically crash. The worst thing is that by the time you start feeling bad, you’re already in trouble, so it’s HUGELY important to stay hydrated. That means drinking plenty of water before you get on the bike, and consuming 1 liter of water every hour, especially in extreme temperatures. We try to get water that includes electrolytes to help replenish vital minerals that are lost when you sweat profusely.
4) Include stops on your route where you can cool off.
One of the best ways to rejuvenate yourself is by getting out of the heat, into a cooler environment. A quick stop can enable you to ride another 45 minutes even in the worst heat, so plan your ride along roads that have services and conveniences no more than 1/2 hour apart. If it’s over 35ºC and you’ve got a two hour ride before your next stop, you’re putting yourself through unnecessary misery and risk.
5) Dress properly and keep your skin covered.
Seems like simple, advice, but it’s amazing how many people don’t follow it. Any areas of skin that are exposed will be much harder to cool, as the sweat will evaporate from the air rushing over it at speed. This means you’ll dehydrate faster. It may seem counter-intuitive to cover yourself with clothes in the heat, but look at the Bedouins in North Africa – they’re covered head to toe. Of course, on a motorcycle you need to wear abrasion and impact resistant gear, which can be heavy. In our experience, the people who are effected most by the heat are those who don’t cover themselves properly. Just make sure you wear well ventilated protective gear, which allows air to circulate through your jacket.
6) Wear a cooling vest.
When temperatures rise over 30ºC, an evaporative cooling vest is worth it’s weight in gold. Our evaporative cooling vests are made with a unique polymer-embedded fabric that retains water. As the water evaporates it draws the heat away from your body, creating a cooling effect – cutting 6-15ºC off the temperature. This is a far more effective solution than simply soaking your t-shirt, as cotton doesn’t retain the water and it evaporates quickly. Our cooling vests can be worn under ventilated riding jackets. In combination with the tips above our cooling vests will help you stay cool, comfortable and safe while riding in the summer.
Benefits of cooling vests for hot weather riding
- Better reaction times
- Faster decision making
- Fewer mistakes
- Reduced sweating
- Reduced dehydration
- Reduced heart rate
- Help in maintaining a safe core body
Our HyperKewl cooling vests have been receiving glowing reviews. Check out what these leading magazines are saying about our cooling vests for hot weather riding: