Some of the most common misconceptions about riding today are being taught to motorcyclists world wide as truths about 'motorcycle safety'; particularly when it comes to how to protect yourself when riding a motorcycle in hot weather. What started as advice to a rider out of genuine concern; turned into myths based on general assumptions instead of facts and physics. Do not feel bad though if you were one of the people who started these myths or repeated one. I must say that there are a few I am guilty of repeating; and quite a few more that I would have believed until I started doing some research. You see, I grew up on the back of my dad's Goldwing so I have had plenty of time to learn the dos and don'ts when it comes to riding motorcycles, especially in hot weather. Here are some of the most common myths about riding a motorcycle in the extreme heat:
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They would say that it does wonders to cool you on a hot day; which is not entirely a lie. The truth is, people tend to rely on them a lot, but they provide only minimal relief. In order to considerably cool your body you must cool your CORE because it is the hottest part of your body, and it is the place from which the main arteries flow to your arms, legs, and brain. Thus, if your core is over-heated, then all the blood flowing to your extremities is overheated. Talk about a meltdown! A wet neck tie will only cool the blood flowing through the arteries headed to your brain. You need relief at your core...not just your neck! A great solution for cooling your core is one of the new water cooled vests with a nominal amount of airflow. A water cooled vest will assist your body in keeping your thyroid and blood at a far more acceptable temperature than a wet neck tie, and your whole body will appreciate you for it. By keeping your core and blood temperature down, a water cooled vest will dramatically reduce the risk (if not eliminate it completely) of heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps in the muscles, headaches from the heat, and other heat induced illnesses.
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hundred degrees the smartest thing you can do is wear plenty of layers. Skin exposed directly to the sun evaporates water significantly faster than skin that is covered, actually causing you to dehydrate quicker; not to mention sun burn and damage to the skin (which has been known to later lead to skin cancer). There is also a chance you will get beat up by the wind pretty bad when the heat is extreme. The heat causes more sensitivity to the skin so road rash is more likely.
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wind flow directed across your skin and not against it) is a great way to cool naturally using evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling only happens when there is less moisture in the air than on your skin, and the temperature in the air is lower than the temperature in your body. Sweat happens when the body is transferring heat from itself into the air. The layers provide enough coverage of your skin to protect it from sun damage and road rash, yet allows just the right amount of airflow to pass over your perspiring skin to cool you down. The moisture released from the surface of your skin transfers excess heat away via airflow. That is the way God built us... good ol' natural evaporative cooling. With good full coverage gear, because it is not over ventilated, you will not waste away all of that moisture like you would in shorts and a sleeveless. I know how hot all that gear can be, but not wearing it could be more dangerous due to overexposure; often, even on-setting heat exhaustion and other heat related sicknesses. Mind you, this natural cooling phenomenon only occurs when your moisture is higher than the humidity in the air, so on a super-humid day combined with the extreme heat...you are on your own. At that point, there is not much that can save you without resorting to unnatural forces. Here again, I would recommend adding one of those new water cooled cooling vests to your tool chest. A leather water cooled cooling vest is the way to go. It will keep you cool even in humid heat. It is made out of a high quality leather that will get the job done, but will not cramp your tough style. In this sort of unbearable heat it is my personal favorite. With this vest everyday is a good day to ride, and you do not have to worry about the broiling effect caused by over-ventilation. From temperatures in the hundreds to super moist- sticky-hot days; it is guaranteed to keep you at a refreshingly low degree. It is definitely the top cool vest on the market right now, and it is unparalleled by any others when it comes to cooling technology. The cooling vest cools you to 65 degrees all day, and it is the only system that can be regenerated on the road (with 10lbs bag ice refills at each gas stop) so you can ride in cooled comfort all day long. These guys know their stuff! The cooling vest is designed for motorcycle riders by motorcycle riders. Once you experience a ride in the extreme heat with one you will never look back. It is nothing short of an air conditioner on a motorcycle.
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conduction -convection -radiation -evaporative cooling Heat exchange is nature's way of keeping your body temperature down. The higher the wind speeds the more cooling there is from convection, but once temperatures reach close to 100 degrees the only heat exchange going on is evaporative cooling. Too much wind however, is not a good thing. There is a limit to the speed of your perspiration. Your sweat will not keep up with the speed of the wind, and the more the wind uses up all the available perspiration, the more convective heating increases. This is the opposite of 'wind-chill'. The idea is that you do NOT want maximum wind against your skin. Mesh shirts or lightweight shirts are the wrong approach. So instead of wearing the mesh gear with all the tiny holes in it for air to flow through, wear a quality leather vest or textile. This is a much smarter investment.
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There has been a lot of controversy here of late over new studies that show too much ventilation can actually be dangerous in that it is technically cooking the rider! Counter to what we have believed in the past- that holes all over the vest will allow the air to flow through and cool you, the wind blowing through the vest at high speeds, high temperatures, and high pressure causes an effect similar to a device called the turbo broiler. You will be much cooler with closed vents versus the wind pouring in and natural forces heating you to broiling point... heat stroke!
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A baseball cap is definitely a decent 'head' protector (besides the obvious-it is soft so it will only protect it from the sun), but your neck and your ears are still exposed when you are not wearing your helmet. The best bet would be a full brimmed hat that covers all of the vital areas.
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While it is important to stay hydrated, you CAN in fact drink 'too much' water. You would think that you could not drink enough water, but it is possible to drink so much that you (for lack of a better term) pee out all of your electrolytes; which can be just as dangerous as dehydration. You would then be on the verge of the same symptoms as sun-stroke, on top of organ damage. If your urine begins to stream crystal clear, and looks like pure water, you might be at risk. You do want to keep a constant flow of water through you throughout the day, but drink in reasonable amounts, not liters of water every hour.Gatorade or other sports drinks are a sufficient source of the proper hydration and electrolytes that are needed to run in the sun:
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Despite the fact that the sports commercial says differently; Gatorade or other sports drinks do NOT give a rider the proper hydration. It is true that you do lose electrolytes for different reasons, but Gatorade is not the thing to replace these. There is a lot of sugar and caffeine crammed into sports drinks which actually speeds up the dehydration process. You should avoid drinking caffeine soda drinks also. Stick to your water regiment and if necessary, you can get electrolyte additives to mix in with your water to make up for the loss.
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There are many more motorcycle myths, but these are the ones we most commonly believe in and are deceived by. I hope this article provides some insight into riding in the hot weather, and keeps you from making the same mistakes I have seen.