Top motorcycle winter clothing

If you’re going to ride throughout winter, then you need some proper clothing to stay warm and alert.

Top motorcycle winter clothing

by Jim Blackstock |

Just like any outdoor activity, successful winter riding is all about layering up. Separate layers will help to trap insulating air between them to keep you warm, while choosing the right material and products will help to wick moisture away from your skin so that if you sweat, you don’t start to feel cold.

A basic system of winter clothing would involve a set of base layers, potentially a mid-layer depending on how cold the conditions are and an outer jacket, involving a thermal liner to further maintain heat. This would help prevent your body losing its own heat but if conditions are particularly cold, then you may want to consider investing in heated clothing.

This might seem extreme but it can have huge benefits, especially if, like me, you suffer from cold fingers or toes. It means you can maintain warmth without the bulking that comes with layering up to maintain the same temperature internally.

Of course, it goes without saying that any winter clothing needs to not only keep you warm but also dry, as wet weather goes hand in hand with the cold. There are various ways to do this, ranging from drop liners that are separate waterproof and windproof layers that zip into a jacket to laminated treatments, such as Gore-Tex or Gore-Tex Pro that stop the water entering the moment it hits the jacket.

Budget also plays a large part in what style, effectiveness and comfort you can expect but there’s no reason that you can expect to stay warm and dry for almost every budget.

Best winter base layers

Nigh-on £130 for a pair of pyjamas may seem excessive but I can personally vouch for this winter base-layer set from Alpinestars. I have used this long-sleeved-top-and-leggings combo for the last two winters and have found that it’s all I need under a decent jacket down to around freezing. They are comfortable, warm, wick sweat away from the body extremely well and the compression fit helps to keep muscles supported and prevent fatigue. It’s a significant investment but one that will pay off if you’re going to ride year round.

Best winter mid-layer

Helly Hansen Men's Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece

Lightweight warmth
Helly Hansen Men's Daybreaker 1/2 Zip Fleece
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When the temperature starts to really dip, then a mid-layer, between the base layer and the thermal liner inside your main jacket, will help to keep a little extra heat in. It doesn't need to be especially thick to be effective, a simple fleece like this one, with a half-zip and high collar - can do wonders to increase your temperature without bulking up excessively. Just keep it snug rather than baggy so your outfit doesn't get too cumbersome.

Best winter jackets

Rukka Kallavesi Gore-Tex Textile Jacket

Rukka Kallavesi Gore-Tex Textile Jacket

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The name Rukka is synonymous with high-performance year-round clothing and the Kallavesi has been superseded, meaning it's still available though at a lower price than the £1,199 RRP. However, £1,000 is still a lot of money for a jacket but like the base layers, if you're riding a lot throughout winter, then it's an investment worth making. The Kallavesi is a serious piece of clothing; Gore-Tex Pro 3 laminate means water simply ruins off the outer surface. It's wind and waterproof, comes with a snug thermal liner and D3O armour at the elbows and shoulders, with provision for a back protector. It takes a bit of effort to get into but once you're in, there is no way any wind or water are getting in with you. Matching trousers are a salty £824 but together, they will see you through plenty of winters, with a six-year warranty.

Best winter boots

Alpinestars Web Boots GTX

Alpinestars Web Boots GTX

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These unassuming boots from Alpinestars belie their performance. In testing, they have proved to be warm and dry, thanks to their leather upper and Gore-tex membrane and supremely comfortable, both on and off the bike. Easy to get on, thanks to the single inner zip and Velcro fastening, they are protective as well, with CE certification to the highest level, sturdy heel and toe boxes and there's shin armour and ankle bracing too. The Velcro allows for different sizes of calf muscles and feel for the bike's controls is surprisingly good for a boot that keeps the feet warm and dry.

Best winter gloves

Furygan Heat Blizzard Heated Gloves

Furygan Heat Blizzard Heated Gloves

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£250 might seem like a lot of money for a pair of gloves but these are all the glove you'll need for the winter. Formed in goat leather, they are both wind and waterproof and feature 37.5 Technology, to keep the hands sweat-free and warm. They feature D3O armour in the knuckles and fingers and have padded palm sliders but the best bit is when the temperature really drops, just switch on the electric heating (rechargeable batteries are included) and choose how warm you want your hands. There's also a smartphone app to pre-warm the gloves and enable one-touch switching via the buttons on the back.

Heated kit

Keis V106 Comfort Heated Vest

Keis V106 Comfort Heated Vest

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If you don't fancy the idea of a thick mid-layer to increase your temperature when it starts to get really cold, then a heated vest (or even jacket) to act as a mid-layer could be just the ticket. Thin enough to be barely noticeable, this vest from Keis comes with a lead to connect directly to the bike's battery and will keep you warm all day long. There is also an optional (£58) battery available to keep you warm when you're away from the bike, giving you the best of both worlds.

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