Keeping your hands warm is key to cold weather motorcycle riding

Motorcyclist wearing heated gloves
January 23, 2019

The winter solstice on December 21 marked the beginning of winter and the shortest amount of daylight for the year. Now that it’s passed, the days are getting longer—providing more time to ride!

While we get more daylight each day, average daytime temperatures will continue to drop over the next two months. That means being aware of the dangers of the cold while on the road.

Cold affects your hands

Riding a motorcycle on a winter day with a temperature of 40 degrees may feel warm when you’re stopped. As soon as you hit highway speeds, it gets cold fast. At 65 mph, the wind chill turns 40 degrees into a cold 24 degrees.

When that cold hits your hands, the blood vessels constrict, rapidly decreasing your hand temperature and causing:

  • Impaired tactile sensitivity

  • Reduced manual dexterity

  • Decreased gross motor function

  • Degraded ability to operate equipment

  • Increasing pain

  • Onset of frostbite

Motorcycle safety is in your hands

Riding a motorcycle requires a complex combination of mental and physical skills. You need to be alert and actively scanning for hazards, while planning safe reactions. If your hands are freezing cold, it’s a distraction and reduces your situational awareness.

On the physical side, you use your hands to operate the majority of controls on your motorcycle. Exposure to cold reduces the ability to operate them with the increased finesse winter season motorcycle riding requires. Prolonged and repeated exposure to cold may result in frostbite and even long-term nerve damage—which can permanently affect your manual dexterity.

Electric gloves

Fortunately, technology offers the ability to ride motorcycles with warm, safe hands in the depths of the winter cold—thanks to electric gloves. Many of you have used an electric vest, so you know the joy of electric riding gear. If you haven’t experienced electric riding gear, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes on a cold ride.

While they’re not cheap, many riders find electric gloves worth the cost of the initial investment and installation of the required wiring hookup. Good quality electric gloves give you the ability to adjust the heat they provide, allowing you to use them in comfort from mid-autumn until mid-spring. Many electric gloves on the market are waterproof, ergonomically designed for motorcycle riding, and have features like reflective materials and abrasion protection.

Think about giving electric gloves a try. You’ll be better able to safely control your motorcycle and protect your priceless hands at the same time.

Till next time, ride safe!

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*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.

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