One of the best times to go riding is in the summer; bright sunshine, warm weather and long hours of daylight make any ride even more fun. And the prospect of a ride to the seaside for fish and chips is, frankly, one that few can resist. However, just like riding in winter, choosing the right kit can make the difference between enjoying every moment and it feeling like a chore.
While your year-round textile kit will work well into the summer, you may find that however breathable the membrane, however large the vents, and however removable the thermal liner, they are still a little cumbersome and restrictive for a ride in the height of summer. So you may want to consider something a bit more lightweight, a bit cooler, a bit more appropriate to the conditions.
Depending on the weather, you can choose clothing that from a cooling point of view, does not exist. For example, mesh clothing has proper material in impact and abrasion zones but in areas that are unlikely to hit the ground, such as the front of the chest or the inside of the arms, they have mesh that allows vast amounts of cooling air in.
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The first time you wear mesh clothing, it can be very disconcerting and leave you feeling vulnerable but the cooling effect is amazing, particularly if the ambient temperature is high.
The same goes for gloves and boots; choose ones that are ventilated to let as much cooling air in as possible. Of course, if you get caught in a sudden downpour, you will get wet – unless you have a set of waterproofs with you – but if it’s hot enough that you want as much ventilation as possible, then the chances are you may not mind a little rain and you’ll probably dry out fairly quickly anyway.
Shark Evo Helmet
Shark has just released an updated version of its modular helmet, the Evo, which means the previous version is currently excellent value. It's a flip-front helmet with a difference; instead of the chin-bar simply lifting up and resting in the raised position, the entire thing rotates over the head and 'parks' at the back, meaning the helmet can be worn either as a full-face or an open face with a visor, giving a fantastic feeling of freedom and cooling when the weather is warm. It's comfortable and cool round town or rural roads and quiet and protective if you are on the motorway, for example. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
RST Axis Gloves
With a CE rating of 1KP (indicating knuckle protection), the Axis gloves from RST are made in leather with Amara panels in key reinforcement areas and hard knuckle protectors, as well as padding and hard plastic protection over the fingers and padding on the thumb. There are also two padded areas on the 'landing zones' on the hands - the base of the palm and over the scaphoid bone - and there are grip panels on the inside of the palm. What makes them perfect for the summer is the ventilation holes in the leather, which allow cooling air in on a warm, ride. I've tried these and found them comfortable and cool. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
Tucano Urbano Network 2G Jacket
Choosing your jacket for a summer ride can be tricky; textiles can be heavy and constrictive, leathers can be too hot. But the ultimate is a mesh jacket and this one from Tucano Urbano is ideal for the urban jungle. CE Rated A, it comes with CE level-2 shoulder and elbow armour and has a pocket for a back protector. What makes it ideal for the summer is the mesh material in non-impact and abrasion zones to allow loads of cooling air in. This material is on the front of the chest and the inside of the arms, as well as across the back. I've used this jacket in heatwaves and it is extremely refreshing, if not slightly disconcerting the first time, for the amount of air it lets in. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
Oxford Original Approved AAA Jeans Slim MS 3 Year
Arriving in shops any minute now, these single-layer riding jeans from Oxford will keep you protected as well as cool on the road. They are AAA CE-rated, the highest possible rating for protection and are made from Armourlite, a combination of denim and aramid fibres. Triple stitched, they come with CE rated Level-2 armour in the knees and hips and both slim and straight fit. The Slim fit is very slim but the straight fit helps to keep the armour in place and when I tested these, I found them comfortable, cooling and very reassuring. I also drag-tested them and was very pleased with the results. A great pair of jeans.
RST Tractech Evo 3 Boots
At £129.99, these are good value. But at £116.99 at Sportsbikeshop currently, they are a bargain and the site's best-seller in boots. And it's not surprising. RST has a reputation for good-value kit that performs and these are no exception, particularly for those with a sporting bias. A microfibre sports boot, with significant external bracing on the ankle to prevent over-extension, a chunky heel cup and strong toe box. It also has TPU padding over the shin and toe sliders and a mid-sole designed to prevent twisting. But what makes these perfect for the summer, in addition to their feel and protection, is the perforations in the material allowing air in to keep the foot cool and let it breathe.
Held Spot Gloves
These short gloves from Held combine protection, comfort and cooling thanks to their material and design. They are formed in goatskin and kangaroo leather with a Superfabric padded section on the landing zone on the palm. There is also a double layer of leather on the palm for grip while there is a hefty, though not intrusive, TPU box-section over the knuckles. This is vented to allow air in while the leather itself is also perforated for ventilation. There's also a Kevlar lining on the back of the hand and a visor wipe. I've used these and really like them. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
Dane Drakar GoreTex Motorcycle Jacket
The Drakar suit from Dane is not a cheap option (trousers are an additional £449) but if you are heading off on a long tour and are likely to encounter a range of conditions, including high temperatures, it might be just right. It comprises a Cordura jacket with mesh panels to allow huge amounts of cooling air in, perfect for hot temperatures. But it also includes a Gore-Tex waterproof jacket that can be fitted inside the outer, in case of wet or chilly conditions to keep rain and wind out or over the top of the outer jacket, in case you encounter a downpour while riding in the cooling mesh jacket. And, of course, the Gore-tex inner/outer can also be used on its own as a waterproof and breathable layer in its own right.
Alpinestars SP-1 Motorcycle Boots
These short boots from Alpinestars are designed to be comfortable and cool but offer as much protection as possible. They are made from a perforated microfibre outer with a mesh lining to promote airflow and are done up with a speed-lacing system with a quick release buckle and Velcro-secured ankle strap. There's a TPU heel-box and bracing to the toe, as well as the ankle, and there is also a TPU toe slider reinforcement section.
Forcefield Tech 2 Base Layers
Base layers aren't just for winter to help keep you warm; they are also essential in summer to help wick moisture away from the skin to help keep you cool and prevent you from sticking to the inside of your jacket. The Forcefield Tech 2 layers are designed to fit tight, compressing and supporting the muscles during riding. Different materials and textures are used in different locations to not only wick moisture away from the body but to try to promote airflow as well. They work very well in summer while they will also be effective into spring and autumn too. Pants are an extra £49.99. Seal of Approval - We've tested this product and have found it performs well
Richa Typhoon One-Piece Waterproof Over Suit
If you're on a long trip in cool summer clothing, you will inevitably encounter rain and a set of waterproofs can make the difference between inconvenience and disaster. This one-piece suit from Richa took a Best Buy award from sister title RiDE when it tested waterproofs a couple of years ago. It is 100% waterproof and features reflective panels as well as a black/fluoro colour scheme to make sure you're seen in the dark or poor weather conditions. It folds into its own storage pouch and is relatively easy to get on, though the lower legs don't have zips to open to allow the feet in.