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How to Prevent Overheating on a Motorcycle Ride

Preparing for a Safe Ride in Hot Weather

A female motorcycle rider drinking water on a break. Photo courtesy of the Orangeville country BMW Dealership.

May might have just finished, but the importance of motorcycle safety ain’t (thank heck) – and despite Motorcycle Safety Awareness month now being behind us, we’re going into a season notorious for heatwaves…and jerks who think they can make that pass. 

While sunny scoots may be welcome after such a dark winter, warmth doesn’t mean the weekend’s yoink should end in a ditch.  Unfortunately, a recent report from PAHomepage shows a pattern of careless/reckless riding that can be exacerbated by high heat levels.

Apart from keeping a weather eye out for potential dangers on the road, here’s what you can do to prevent/help alleviate overheating and arrive alive: 

Don’t Pull the ‘Tough’ Card

A motorcyclist wearing a leather jacket. Photo courtesy of Twitter.
A motorcyclist wearing a leather jacket. Photo courtesy of Twitter.

We love your style – really, we do.

And while ‘riding through it’ may seem like a good idea at the time, last I checked your ego won’t help with overheating…in fact, it will probably make things worse. 

Protect the peeps around you and pull over.

Know the Symptoms

A female motorcyclist drinking while on the road. Photo courtesy of Ride to Food.
A female motorcyclist drinking while on the road. Photo courtesy of Ride to Food.

Not sure what heat exhaustion looks like?

Keep a wary eye out – confusion is right up there with the rest of the symptoms listed by the UK’s NHS:

  • Extreme thirst
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness/confusion
  • Loss of appetite/feeling sick
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pale, clammy skin
  • Cramps in the arms/stomach/legs (not so good for the shifter)
  • Fast heart rate or breathing
  • Body temperatures showing 38C or more

Stop ASAP

A male motorcyclist taking a break. Photo courtesy of MCN.
A male motorcyclist taking a break. Photo courtesy of MCN.

Are we wearing black leather? 

Is today a day where Betty Crocker can bake a batch of brownies on the proverbial buns?

Pull off at the next exit and immediately find a way to cool down. Rider Magazine gives a bunch of tips and tricks – anything from removing your helmet to finding shade, to adding a cold, wet towel around your head. 

Other ideas: 

  • Remove thicker gear such as leather and any less-breathable shells
  • Walk into an air-conditioned store
  • Find an elevated area with a breeze and shade your head
  • Get away from your engine’s heat (some bikes are terrible for this, the KTM RC390 being one of them unfortunately)
  • Attend a restaurant and order a pitcher of ice water
  • Recover electrolytes with a sports drink (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.)
  • Take a dip in a cool lake, river, or swimming pool (maybe ask permission first)

Cooling Down Takes Time

A view of a motorcycle rider experiencing beautiful topography and prepping to avoid heat exhaustion.
A view of a motorcycle rider experiencing beautiful topography and prepping to avoid heat exhaustion. Photo courtesy of Gebhardt Insurance.

Once you’re feeling better, get ready to…sit. 

That’s right, don’t do anything – not yet. Make sure that your head feels ready to take on the responsibility of not wrapping your 2022 Indian Scout Rogue around the nearest Honda Civic. After all, heat exhaustion can easily turn into heat stroke – something that can potentially be fatal in and of itself, let alone when you factor a meandering motorcycle into the mix.

A male motorcyclist taking a break. Photo courtesy of the Orangeville country BMW Dealership.
A male motorcyclist taking a break. Photo courtesy of the Orangeville country BMW Dealership.

 Here at wBW, we prize health and safety above all else. It’s the reason why we adhere so strongly to our ATTGAT rule (All The Gear, All The Time) – and we take pride in reminding you (and ourselves) to stay safe.

Now it’s your turn to take this blurb of goodies and pass it on. What tips and tricks do y’all have for beating the burn?

Comment down below, and as ever – stay safe on the twisties. 

*Media sourced from Twitter, VisorDown, Ride to Food, Motorcycle.com, Indian Motorcycle of Orange County, and Gebhardt Insurance*

Leave a Reply

  1. Among the tips you didn’t mention:
    – Use a cooling vest or soak your shirt for evaporative cooling
    – Wear a light colored mesh jacket (NO Black)
    – White helmets
    – Ride in the early AM

    1. Hey Larry,

      Love this lineup and thanks for contributing! Keep ’em comin’ 😉

      Cheers,
      Amanda Quick

  2. This: is worth a read-https://www.ironbutt.com/ibmagazine/ironbutt_1002_62-66_Hot.pdf

    I switch to my summer shield and glad I have a water cooled Versys 1000 that is the coolest runner I’ve owned.

  3. I keep a trauma kit in the tour pack of my Harley. In it is a rehydration product called “Liquid IV”. Mixed in a bottle of water, it will rehydrated and supply electrolytes.