Keeping Your Body Temperature in Check

Keeping Your Body Temperature in Check

When the effects of high humidity are added into the heat index calculation, motorcycle riding can be very uncomfortable. To compensate, riders must enhance the natural evaporative cooling process produced by their body’s perspiration.

Here are our seven tips for staying cool on the road:

Stay Breezy

Large windscreens and fairings may be fine in winter, but warm weather riding requires lots of air circulation for a rider’s body to perform its evaporative cooling. Adjustable windscreens (or no windscreen) and air dams that move air toward the rider’s body are highly desirable.

Don Proper Riding Gear

Experienced riders know that uncovered skin can actually accelerate the dehydration process and lead to sunburn and other undesirable skin conditions. Mesh, or at least well-ventilated riding gear, helps the body stay cool. Light colored riding gear is also cooler than biker black. (Why do you think desert travelers in the Middle East wear loose, flowing white garments?) Underneath, riders should wear a form fitting synthetic shirt to maximize the cooling effect of perspiration. Cotton garments tend to keep heat in close to the body.

Use Cooling


The rider marketplace has various products that can accentuate evaporative cooling. Here are some of the more popular devices:

  • Evaporative Vest: Instead of rapidly depleting a motorcyclist’s bodily fluids, a specially designed water soaked vest can cool a rider’s torso.
  • Evaporative Necktie: Water-soaked, absorbent material is tied loosely around the neck, giving evaporative cooling to the carotid arteries as they carry blood to the brain.
  • Dry Cool Bandana or Vest: These garments have reusable flexible ice inserts, which can be placed in a freezer compartment for several hours to prolong cooling effects during the day.

Select a Temperate Touring Location

Okay, this one is pretty obvious. Riding in south Texas or Death Valley in August isn’t well advised. To the extent possible, riders should plan their tours in more temperate weather locations during the hottest months. Higher altitudes and/or more northerly destinations (at least for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere) usually produce more moderate riding temperatures during summer months.

Keep Hydrated

The average adult human body contains around 10 to 12 gallons of water. To avoid hyperthermia, bodily fluids lost through perspiration must be replaced. When temperatures are above 90º F riders should consume an additional one to two liters of fluids per day. It’s also necessary to replace electrolytes with energy drinks or by eating fruit. Caffeinated drinks, however, tend to accelerate dehydration.

Start Early, Stop Early

One strategy for avoiding extreme daytime temperatures is to depart soon after sunrise and call it a day in the early afternoon. This avoids the hottest temperatures of the day and also allows riders to have their pick of overnight accommodations.

Take More Frequent Breaks

In very hot weather, motorcyclists should take more frequent riding breaks to cool down, hydrate, and conserve energy. Remember, motorcycle touring is supposed to be fun. If a trip is turning into an exhausting endurance ordeal, take a cool respite in a swimming pool, museum, restaurant, or something similar.

Symptoms of Insufficient Hydration and Cooling:

  1. Dark urine
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Loss of energy
  4. Muscle weakness
  5. Confusion
  6. Headache
  7. Dizziness/lightheadedness

Inadequate hydration and an overheated core body temperature can quickly progress to hyperthermia, a serious condition that can result in death. An overheated rider should find a cool place to hydrate and rejuvenate or, if the symptoms are severe, seek immediate medical attention.