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9 Things You Need When Riding This Summer


Summer is finally upon us! Along with the warm weather, pool parties, and bbq's, also comes the return of riding season! So dust off those bikes and get ready for some epic motorcycle adventures.

Whether this is your first summer on a bike, or you've been riding for years... whether you're going on a long distance trip or just exploring your local roads, we've got 9  things you need for a fun, comfortable riding season.

1. Dark helmet shield

The summer warmth also means sun in your face. A dark helmet shield will keep the sun out of your eyes, so you don't have to wear sunglasses inside the helmet. Smoke or mirrored are the popular options.

And a plus: it makes you look like a total badass.

Just remember that if you're planning on a long ride that goes into the night, bring along with you a clear visor to switch into after the sun goes down.  Riding in the dark with a tinted visor is basically like driving a car at night with sunglasses on. Not safe for anyone on the road.

Or if you're in the market for a completely new helmet, you may want to consider a dual visor helmet, which has a tinted inner shield that drops down. This will cover you in all situations and eliminate having to carry around a clear visor.

2. Short gloves

Don't worry about sweaty hands with short ventilated riding gloves! Short motorcycle gloves will have the necessary padding and abrasion resistant materials, while allowing ventilation to keep your hands non-sweaty. There are tons of options available, including moisture-wicking materials, perforated leather, or gloves with venting systems.

One of our most popular gloves for the summer is the Icon Twenty-Niner Gloves Black, which has rubber knuckle armor, a leather goatskin palm, and a hi-flow mesh on the back of the hand.

3.  Cooling base layers

Yes, the summer sun may be uncomfortably strong, but riding in shorts and a T-shirt is NOT the way to go. We are always champions of safe riding, and that means riding jacket and riding pants always. Based on your personal preference, you may like a lighter weight textile jacket or a perforated leather jacket for these hot months.

To keep cool, gear up with cooling base layers, though it may seem counter-productive to pile on even more clothing. A cooling base layer will wick sweat away from you, keeping you dry and comfortable. Cooling layers are available for both pants and tops, so get some if you're planning on rides longer than just a quick neighborhood jaunt. We all know how uncomfortable a ... ahem... certain area can get.

In extremely hot conditions, you can also consider a cooling vest to go under the jacket. The vest activates with a couple of minutes' soak in water, and it'll keep you cool on your long rides under the sweltering sun.

While this isn't technically a base layer, you can also wear a wet bandana around the neck or a cooling neck tube. Something cool on your neck on a hot day brings instant relief.

4. Hydration pack 

One of the biggest dangers of riding in hot weather is heat exhaustion and/or even possibly fatal - heat stroke. The most important things you can do to prevent this is 1) stay hydrated, and 2) listen to your body and take a break if you are feeling signs of exhaustion, dizziness, cramping, and/or nausea.

To stay hydrated, bring enough water with you on your trip - one bottle every hour as a general guideline. We highly recommend hydration packs so you can sip easily while riding (especially if it's not convenient to stop to take a rest break). We love the performance-focused hydration packs from American Kargo that are designed to fit over motorcycle jackets

5. Windscreen

Summer is the perfect season to cruise along the mountains and country roads with the wind in your hair, right? (Though that's just an expression, because you'll be wearing a helmet, of course.)

Unfortunately, summer also brings an increase in bugs. And bugs in your beard is not a sexy look, not to mention gross. Fit up your bike with a windshield to keep them from splattering in your face. A windshield will also protect against wind fatigue, flying debris, and the summer rain.

If you're worried about a windscreen messing up the lines of your bike, here are our favorite ones that look great while doing the job.

6. Battery

You excitedly get your bike out of the garage, turn the ignition, and... nothing. Yep, a dead battery.

You can make sure your bike doesn't die after months of non-use with a battery tender. These devices are designed to fully charge the battery and maintain it at a safe level. They do not cause any damage, unlike trickle chargers (which means that small currents keep on being sent to the battery even when it's fully charged... a surefire way to destroy it).

Or another option is to upgrade to a lithium battery, which is a lot more slimmed down and lightweight than the heavy lead-acid batteries. Lithium batteries have way better performance, no risk of spills, and can go for months without a charge. The substantial weight savings also translates into increased riding performance as well. Our picks are the Ballistic lithium batteries.




7. Oil

If you're getting your bike out again after a long hibernation in the garage, it's best to start this season off with a fresh oil change. When temperatures near triple digits, your bike can run the risk of overheating, which will break down existing oil quicker and wear the engine more if you're not at the proper levels or running old oil. It's a good idea to carry a bottle of oil with you on your long touring ride too, just in case.

What kind of oil you use is important too. Be sure to check your manufacturer's guide to see what is recommended for your specific bike. During the hot days, a heavier oil or synthetic oil will be able to endure the heat more.

If you're riding in very hot areas, you may want to consider a oil cooler kit, which will maintain the oil at a safe temperature. However, be careful to make sure that your bike will actually benefit from one, as it may even cause damage if your bike doesn't really need one. In general, air-cooled V-Twins is a good candidate for a oil cooler kit, or if you're carrying a heavy load on your ride.


8. Tires & tire pressure gauge

Check that your tires still have maintained their pressure and that there are no damages. Also check that you still have enough tread. If there are any damages or they are too worn out in general, it's best to replace the tires. Make sure you get tires with enough tread to function well for both the hot asphalt and summer rain wet conditions.

Generally, it's a good idea to check the tire pressure before every ride with a tire pressure gauge. Tires with inadequate pressure can significantly affect handling and traction. The lifetime of a tire is also greatly reduced if riding with improperly inflated tires.

9. Sprockets & chains (and chain lube)

Check your sprockets for wear and check your chain to see if it needs replacing.  If your chain has rusted or is worn down, it's best to just go ahead and replace them (replace both at the same time for best results).

If your chain still looks to be in good condition, give it a light cleaning first with just mild soap and a brush, as dirt and grease most likely have gathered on the chain.  The next step is to properly lubricate the chain in order to increase the life of the chain and sprockets. For best results, do so after warming it up a bit (just ride it around the block a couple of times), as this will allow the warm chain to soak up the lubricant better.

Conclusion

Are you ready to take your bike out of hibernation? Riding in the summer is all about enjoying the sun and weather on your favorite bike, but also about staying protected while keeping cool. There are definitely some challenges to riding in the extreme heat, but with the proper gear, you can make sure you have a safe and comfortable ride.

Hopefully we have given you some good tips for both you and your bike for this upcoming summer season. So get out there and have a cool, safe, and adventurous one!

What are some of your ways for dealing with the summer heat? Share them below!
By Daniel Relich

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