I’ve often joked that we get about 2 weeks of Fall at our home in Georgia and then boom! You wake up to morning temps in the 30’s with afternoon temps in the 70’s and 80’s, which makes for something of a wardrobe challenge as a motorcycle commuter. Once we get into winter — think January and February — those morning temps dip into the single digits and teens with afternoon temps in the 50’s and 60’s and that can be even a bigger challenge.
Over the years I’ve slowly amassed a wide range of gear that pretty much covers the full spectrum of temperatures and weather conditions and rarely get cold no matter how cold it is on my somewhat short 30 minute commute on secondary and back roads… never having to touch a freeway.
In some respects not being on freeways helps, but in others it also makes for a cooler ride since most of the roads I ride are covered by a canopy of trees. That also contributes to some bigger risks if we get moisture on the roads when the temps are hovering around freezing and brings traffic to a sliding crash when we get show and freezing rain after temps have been below freezing for several days or weeks. But, I digress.
Back to the subject at hand, I was reminded this week that I’d pretty much reached the limit with my leather overpants and leather jacket after opting to ride the Harley to work and rolled out at 5:30 AM in 40°F temps. Even with my Gerbings electric jacket, the cold air was able to make it’s way through the poorly covered zippers on both jackets and leave me with a cold chest for most of the ride. Having my legs sitting out in the breeze instead of being tucked in behind the bodywork and engine cylinder jugs on my BMW R1100S also was a new experience. My hands stayed toasty in the Gerbings electric gloves, and that’s always nice. For the ride home around 7:00 PM with temps in the lower 60’s, the unlined leather jacket wasn’t really cutting the mustard getting a full blast of air in the chest on the Harley: should have put on the Gerbings liner but left the heat switched off. So, memo to self: there’s a reason the R1100S with it’s bodywork, windscreen and more aggressive riding position is better suited to cold and wet conditions, eh?
On Friday I opted to put the so-called SuperSport windscreen on the Harley to see if that would make much of a difference. But I also accepted the fact that the seasons changed and — with temps in the 30’s and 40’s — it was time to pull out the cold weather gear. So, on went my Fieldsheer Highland overpants, my Gerbing electric jacket liner and Fieldsheer Highland jacket + Gerbing electric gloves. Oh yeah, that was a warm and comfy ride and the windscreen definitely made a huge difference. I pretty much shut off my electric jacket liner to keep from getting too warm. For the ride home around 5:30 PM (hey, it was Friday and the Margaritas were waiting for us at On The Border), with temps still around 71°F the Fieldsheer gear was still pretty comfortable and not too hot. However, I did make a disappointing but not unexpected discovery about the SuperSport windscreen: it’s pretty worthless above 65 mph.
I discovered this when my normal route home — Old 41 to Stilesboro Rd. through Kennesaw Nat’l Battlefield Park — was unexpectedly backed up. So, rather than sitting still and going nuts (I’m very impatient when it comes to sitting in traffic) I doubled back and took US41 around the mountain. As I approached the 55 mph speed limit and then some I began to experience a lot of wind buffeting as air came under, around and over the smallish SuperSport windscreen and seemed to all converge at my Shoei Multitec helmet. At 60 mph it was annoying, and by 70 mph it was something that would be intolerable for prolonged periods of time. I’ve heard said that Harley’s with simple windscreens often times have buffeting issues and now have a better appreciation for what that’s like: uggg. No wonder Road Glides are the bike of choice for highway warriors. So, more to follow on how we’ll address any highway trips on the Wide Glide, as that windscreen isn’t gonna hack-it.
Oh yeah, and when it comes to cycling, we also face wardrobe challenges. However, my sweetie has become less inclined to head out for a ride when it’s below 60°F when left to our own devices. She’ll do 50’s if it’s at an event and peer pressure forces her hand, but our days of heading out when it’s in the 40’s are over… at least for road riding. However, we now have an off-road trail just 4 miles from the house, so perhaps we’ll venture out onto it to get in some exercise over the winter.