If you ride through the winter, you know that the layers you choose make all the difference in the world. The ability to get the thinnest, warmest gear available becomes paramount, when the wind starts hitting you at 70MPH, and the temperature is only 35 degrees outside. It’s estimated the temp drops approximately 20 degrees while riding, and sometimes that estimate seems conservative. Windy days can add pain to the equation…
This holiday season I had one thing on my wish list, and that was cold weather riding gear. In the past, I got through cold riding seasons with multiple layers of the clothes I already owned, instead of giving in to the high prices for the high-tech apparel available today. It’s hard for me to get past the price, when it comes to clothes. No one would accuse me of being fashionable, and I find it difficult to stomach the prices attached to some of the more modern riding gear. But warmer is safer, when it comes to keeping your mind on the road, instead of on your discomfort.
Enter the brutal winter of 2010-2011, and I quickly decided that my stubborn attitude toward ‘high-fashion’ needed to go. Bring on the expensive long-johns, if that’s what it takes to keep warm, and keep me on the road. So, off I went to the outdoor store, looking for some better gear. My goal was to buy a “base layer,” better known as long-johns, that would keep me toasty in the coldest of riding weather. I needed both a shirt and pants that would be the first layer to the skin, and my first line of defense. After speaking to a few people, and doing some research online, I determined that the best bet would be the Under Armour (UA) brand, known throughout the sports world for quality build and comfort, as well as warmth and wicking properties.
When I arrived at the store, I looked through the UA gear, and found the quality to be top-notch. I needed some help, and fortunately, the employee who approached me is himself a motorcycle rider. Perfect! He suggested I skip the hype (and price tag) associated with UA, and check out the Polar Max gear they carried. He personally uses it, so it came highly recommended, for half the price. Even more perfect!
The first thing you notice is that this is not your grandfather’s long-underwear. Gone is the red one-piece affair, with the ass hatch. This is the best of new technology, made for summiting Everest, and should be sufficient (especially for the price!) to keep us warm on a bike. I picked out a pair of pants and a shirt from Polar Max, designated as their “Warmest” line, which is good for the coldest weather. It is made up of some type of Fleece material, but thinner than the Fleece used in the popular jackets.
Despite the hype, I also ended up choosing a shirt from UA, which is part of their line called the ColdGear Hybrid Wind Block. This is made of stretch material (made the gut look WAY too big! Diet coming…), as well as some parts being made of what looks and feels like neoprene, like a wet suit.
After the shopping excursion, it was time to ride home to Brooklyn, so I geared up with the pants from Polar Max, and the shirt from UA. Saddled up and off I went, feeling almost too warm while packing the bike and during slow riding. Once I hit the highway, I instantly recognized the difference in the quality these products offer. No chills, no discomfort, just unadulterated warmth. Exactly what the bike-doctor ordered.
I will be putting these under-garments through their paces in the next couple months, but my first impression is that despite the higher cost, the comfort and warmth they provide balances the cost.
Next up, some proper winter riding gloves…