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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For those on a budget, what do you wear to stay warm in the cold riding in highways? I ride on highways at an average 70-80mph with 35-45 degrees in cold.

Obviously I bought a insulated motorcycle jacket, it does help.
Heated motorcycle gloves, sometimes helps.
Insulated pants with Jeans over it, it helps.

Not the best, but I can still feel after 20 minutes riding and I have 20 minutes left more to ride.
 

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Wind chill is exponential. Meaning that without active heat, the cold is going to win at some point regardless of layers. Especially at the temps and speeds you're talking about unless you take frequent breaks. I know you mentioned a budget, but the old saying "buy once, cry once" comes to mind.

I have heated base layers from Warm n' Safe. Socks, pants, shirt, and gloves. Over these I wear insulated polyester mid-layers, then windproof top-layers. All this combined with a full-face helmet and some neck protection allows me to ride down into the teens at the speeds you mentioned. I've done multiple Iron Butt rides where several hours were down in the 20's at 85mph+. I was as comfortable as I am now sitting here typing this.

As far as something budget that will handle the outer and mid-layers at the same time, check out the Bilt Storm 2 pants and jacket. I only have the pants but suspect the jacket performs just as well. The pants are worth their weight in gold. Tens of thousands of miles on them and along with heated liners, there is absolutely no temperature threshold, at least that I've encountered. A two-hour ride on the interstate at 15 degrees was honestly fine with my current setup.
 

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1997 Softail Custom (FXSTC)
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I agree with wicking base layers. Make sure for winter, you're getting ones designed to be warm, usually made of a synthetic materal and especially look for "microfleeced" or "fleeced" in the description. Those go a long way.

I also agree with "buy once, cry once". Just bite the bullet and get heated gear, even if you have to buy it one piece per year, it's worth it. I put it off forever, just wearing multiple layers (microfleeced warming base layers, jeans, t-shirt, wool socks under cotton socks, thermal long sleeve shirt over t-shirt, vest, heavy winter jacket, leather overpants, warming sports gloves under leather gloves, etc).

Now with heated gear (I have First Gear heated gear, same gear as Warm-n-Safe, actually is made by them, even says so on the tag licensed to First Gear from Warm n Safe), it's way better. For one, all those thick layers makes moving around a pita and then if you stop in some place, you're boiling inside until you get back out riding. And then you're still cold at those temps (just less cold than without all the layers). With the heated gear, you have a lot more freedom of movement and comfort and you're actually warm rather than just "less cold". To be honest, I can't even stand to wear my heated gear if the ambient temperature is over about 55°F as it's too hot even on it's lowest setting, that's how warm the heated gear is. If you do heated gear, don't cheap out on it either with some cheap scAmazon rechargeable battery powered pieces of junk (they'll work, but only for about 10 minutes at which point they'll shut off for safety reasons and you have to stop to turn them back on).

I would add in though, get a sports balaclava to wear under your helmet and get a fleeced neck gaiter. You'll want both of those even with heated gear (or at least the balaclava).
 

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I also agree with "buy once, cry once". Just bite the bullet and get heated gear, even if you have to buy it one piece per year, it's worth it.

Now with heated gear (I have First Gear heated gear, same gear as Warm-n-Safe, actually is made by them, even says so on the tag licensed to First Gear from Warm n Safe), it's way better. For one, all those thick layers makes moving around a pita and then if you stop in some place, you're boiling inside until you get back out riding. And then you're still cold at those temps (just less cold than without all the layers). With the heated gear, you have a lot more freedom of movement and comfort and you're actually warm rather than just "less cold". To be honest, I can't even stand to wear my heated gear if the ambient temperature is over about 55°F as it's too hot even on it's lowest setting, that's how warm the heated gear is.

I would add in though, get a sports balaclava to wear under your helmet and get a fleeced neck gaiter. You'll want both of those even with heated gear (or at least the balaclava).
Couldn't have said it better myself. It's nice to be warm and not lose all your motor skills from wearing so many layers. Then as you mentioned, you're not sweating profusely when you unplug and get off the bike. Heated gear has been my single most favorite purchase when it comes to motorcycle riding. And again, like you said, you can piece it together over time. I bought the heated shirt and gloves first and those extended the season even without the pants and socks. I just made sure to buy a heat controller compatible with all four garments up front and got the pants/socks later.

In the winter when it's 20 degrees but otherwise a nice day, I love to go out and ride. I'm sure people look at me like I'm a fool. Little do they know I'm warm and having a blast. The only thing that stops me now is ice and/or salt.
 

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In the winter when it's 20 degrees but otherwise a nice day, I love to go out and ride. I'm sure people look at me like I'm a fool. Little do they know I'm warm and having a blast. The only thing that stops me now is ice and/or salt.
"I am Iron Man". Yep little do they know you are warm and toasty. Love my heated gear especially the socks.
 

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That's another thing with heated gear... go for the socks, don't go for the insoles. The heated insoles, I would imagine based on limited experience (Amazon cheapo battery powered heated insoles), are way less efficient and helpful. The soles will only heat the bottom, socks ostensibly could heat the bottom AND top of the foot (though not sure, I need to look at the ones I have and see where the heating elements are, for all I know, they could only be on the bottom. I don't remember, only just got the stuff last year.
 

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Agree with those above posts. Heated gear is the only way to go. Warm and Safe are the leaders in the business and stand behind their products. You can actually call them on the phone and talk to the people that manufacture and distribute the product.
like everyone else said. 20 degrees with the gear is just another enjoyable day of riding. Been to the Arctic Circle with it in constant snow and rain.

Only additional equipment you will need-if you ride in rain with heated gloves is a way to keep them dry. HD heated gloves were a gift so I had to add aero stitch glove covers because the Harley gloves were FXRG leather , and after days of rain would get water soaked and the heating ability diminished.

heated sock are to die for !
 

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I'm a recent convert for heated gear. It is so much nicer having freedom of movement due to less insulating "bulk". I still find a key to comfort is sealing the drafts coming up the sleeves, down the neck and occasionally up the back. I cut the tops off of old sox, pull them on my wrists then roll them down until it makes the cuffs tight on my jacket (not a fan of gauntlet gloves). A scarf under the jacket takes care of the neck, and my "front porch" seals my jacket bottom to my torso more securely every year. Our Georgia winter rides seldom start out below 25 degrees and usually are above freezing by the first gas stop. To me it is a wonderful change from the Summer heat rides.
 

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I went with heated glove liners instead of heated gloves. I already had gloves that were fine, now any gloves I have can be heated gloves. I have a very hard time finding gloves that fit right and didn't want to have to spend a bunch on heated gloves and adding yet another glove to the pile of gloves I have. The glove liners let me make any gloves I want to be heated. I can wear them under waterproof gloves to have heated gloves in the rain if need be without having to worry about glove covers for heated gloves. The glove liners cost less than the gloves too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks guys, the heated gloves I have are from Highway 21. I do have a heated vest that I put under my insulated jacket.

I'm hearing here that leather jackets is better than insulated motorcycle jackets?
 

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Silk base layer, socks and glove liners, works wonders!
This is what riders have been doing since motorcycles were invented. Thin layers that create a bubble of air around your body so it stays warm but can also breathe. The notion "cold will eventually win" isn't true. Natives in Alaska don't wear electrically heated clothing and the cold doesn't "eventually win". It's knowing what to wear and how to wear it.

With that said, I love heated gear. I've done both but when it's in the 20's and 30's the thin and easy to move around in heated gear is the way to go. However, if you're on a long ride you will want to carry layered clothing just in case the electric heated gear fails. There's nothing like being 50+ miles from civilization in 20 degree weather and having a wardrobe malfunction.
 

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This is what riders have been doing since motorcycles were invented. Thin layers that create a bubble of air around your body so it stays warm but can also breathe. The notion "cold will eventually win" isn't true. Natives in Alaska don't wear electrically heated clothing and the cold doesn't "eventually win". It's knowing what to wear and how to wear it.
That is incorrect. Those natives in Alaska aren't getting the exponential windchill on an open moving vehicle. It's more of a "static" cold for lack of a better phrase.

I used to ride with 4-5 layers a lot when it was below freezing. After several hours on the interstate, the cold in fact "did win". Even with wearing the proper garments in the correct manner. I've since removed 3 of those layers with only adding the heated base layers. Now I am as warm finishing the ride as I am when I first started. If someone doesn't ride up to a certain speed or distance, then no. Cold may not penetrate. But I'm talking all day riding at 80mph+.

Ken Phenix is a good resource I always direct people to. He's a cold weather riding guru with probably more miles on gravel than any of us have on the highway. An educated, unbiased fellow who knows all the reasoning behind it.


Edit: Here's a post from Ken I found. The context is a question about heated gloves but he provides some good in depth information.


Let's examine the problems. At the onset of hypothermia, the body reacts by restricting blood flow to extremities to protect brain and other vital organs thus exacerbating the cold we feel on hands and feet. Applying warmth to hands alone treats the symptom rather than the cause. A vest or jacket liner prevents this. But even with a warm core the digits are out there in the wind and don't have enough circulation to stave off windchill. Heated gloves provide warmth to fingertips and backs of hands that heated grips cannot. Another advantage to a jacket liner is it keeps the wiring for gloves nice and tidy.


I learned the hard way that windchill charts are useless. Windchill is actually exponential.

TEMP X SPEED X DURATION

30 minutes at 30mph in 30 degrees is easy. But ride several hours sub-freezing at highway speed and sooner or later your layers will assume the outside temperature. Short term relatively stationary activities require less wattage to offset windchill. Battery powered gloves are fine for sitting in bleachers, shoveling snow or a few minutes on a ski slope but are found lacking long term at highway speeds.
 
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