Happy Decembrrrrrrr

It’s a mite chilly in the Bay Area lately — about 40F when I started my commute this morning.

When I got into work, I bumped into coworker Matt, who was curious how I was staying warm. I ran through the list of winter gear I have, which made me think that that might make an interesting blog entry, too. So, without further ado, I present

Carolyn’s Cold Weather Commute Gear

Full-face Shoei RF800 helmet
OK, let’s be frank: there’s not much to say about a helmet as it relates to cold weather. The vents do a decent job of keeping the visor unfogged — I used to have a FogCity insert on my old clear visor, but didn’t get a new insert when I bought my current visor. I haven’t really missed it, so for now, no insert.

Columbia neck gaiter
A Christmas present from Andrea a year or so ago. It’s black, fleece, warm, and keeps cold air out of my helmet and away from my cheeks/chin. What more could I ask for?

Gerbing
heated vest

Holy mother of god, I love my heated vest. Like the heated grips, this was originally a “luxury” item that I can no longer imagine living without. I have the variable controller (mounted here), which works really well for me. I’m one of those people with a perpetually whacked internal thermostat, so I like being able to reach down and tweak it when I get hot! no wait, cold! cold! now colder! now hot! too hot! etc.

FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket
I bought this jacket off of Ebay for a disgustingly low price (about $120 brand new) as a backup jacket for the Alaska trip, but it’s become my main winter jacket. First off, it’s really comfortable. Second, the fleece inner liner is nice and warm — and makes a decent sweatshirt off the bike. Third, it’s nicely waterproof (I’ve since washed the jacket, but it hasn’t rained again since I re-ScotchGard’ed it. I’m assuming it’ll still be waterproof….). Fourth, it’s roomy enough to fit over a sweatshirt and the Gerbing heated vest. This all adds up to the perfect winter jacket.

Helimot Buffalo 365 gloves
I was worried that these wouldn’t work as winter gloves, just because they worked so well as summer gloves. I should know better than to doubt Helmut and the gang at Helimot — these are true all-weather gloves. Of course, my fingertips still get chilly when it’s < 50F out, but that's reasonable. With the heated grips, the Buffalo 365s are definitely good down to at least 40F (haven't tested anything colder, and I can't say I'm eager to, either). They work well in the rain, too -- the dye doesn't bleed all over, and they don't stay soaking wet and miserably stiff for hours afterwards, either.

Mountain Hardwear Windstopper pants
I wear these under my leather pants when it gets < 50F. I've never worn them under any other pants, so I can't really say how wind proof they really are (leather is, in and of itself, pretty darn windproof), but they definitely keep my legs warmer. The only downside is that they're a little baggy on me, so they bunch up funny at my waist -- I think this is a feature of being 5'1", though. Sigh.

Helimot custom leather pants
These poor pants have put up with so much shit from me, and they still keep smiling. They’ve been worn in 120F summers, 20F winters, rain, hail, humidity, etc etc etc. Every once in a while, they spit off a zipper out of spite (I swear, I’m not getting fatter), but otherwise these pants are sheer perfection. In the winter, they’re as warm as can be expected — no bone-chilling air leaks along the seams — and are wonderfully waterproof. In a downpour, the calf zippers let just enough moisture in to make something dye a little black line onto my calves (dunno if it’s from my socks, boots, or the pants), but that’s not that bad.

Daytona LadyStar boots
Again, these poor boots have been through just about every climate on earth now. They’re great winter boots — I’ve never had cold feet, and I never wear socks thicker than whatever I get on sale at Target. Even in 40F downpours, my toesies stay warm and dry.

So there ya go. That’s all what gets me through winter. :)

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12 Responses to Happy Decembrrrrrrr

  1. Stephanie says:

    I enthusiasticly second your statement on electrics. It’s been as low as 36 during the morning commute and I have the long, breezy 92 bridge to contend with as well. I get to the point of composing amorous letters in my head to the mythical Mr. Gerbing because I have fallen so deeply in love with him for giving me such joy.
    When I confessed that I become enamoured with him to my husband, Tony replied; “who hasn’t???” ;)

  2. wookiee says:

    On cold mornings on the bike I wear:
    Synthetic jacket with liner, neck warmer, winter riding gloves, flannel boxers, army surplus boots (the tongue is all one piece with the boot, so no air gets in), and occasionally the pants to go with the jacket, without the lining, if my jeans won’t be enough.

  3. Didn’t you have hand guards on the SV for winter riding?
    I’m thinking next for me is the heated grips on the VFR, everything else is pretty good on my short commute (and one longer trip to Milwaukee during daylight hours) when it is below 40F I don’t know how much it would extend the commute anyway. I try to keep the sportbikes off the saltly, crappy roads here in Wisconsin. Maybe I’ll get a little dual sport some year to outfit with the heated grips/vest so I can ride more of the winter. Although with the road conditions here and the in-town traffic I probably shouldn’t bother.

  4. Gail says:

    I am looking for an apple warmer for my husband. He had one years ago but gave gave it away. Now he wants to kick himself. He said that it was made of quilt type material and velcroed up into his helmet. Can anyone help me?

  5. Dave Blanton says:

    Help
    Like gail, I am looking for a apple warmer. Had one years ago and loved it. If you have info or email address i would be very greatfull.
    Dave Blanton
    Louisville, Ky

  6. carolyn says:

    There are about 50 URLS in the comment two above yours — have you looked at all of those?

  7. Dave Blanton says:

    Carolyn,
    Still can not find any info on lockharts apple warmer. Are they still making this product. Does anyone have a old address or phone no. Going on long trip through the mountains up north and would really like to take a apple warmer with me.
    Dave B.

  8. Mike R says:

    I live in Seattle and have a 7 mile/17 minute commute each way. It doesn’t rain here as much as people think, but my typical winter commute is through a lot of mist, drizzle, and 35 – 45 degree temps. For my upper body, in addition to lots of layers, I like to wear my armored mesh First Gear summer jacket under my Tourmaster rain shell. I like having the armor at all times, especially in the winter when there are extra hazards, and the mesh traps warm air under the shell, so it’s a great insulating layer. On rainy days, I like the lined leather chaps that I just found for $40 at a local thrift store! I have some bibs that keep me dry, but getting in and out of them takes almost as long as my commute (boots and all top layers have to go on after and come off first), whereas the full-length zippers on the chaps make them instant on and off. I have some fleece lined Carhart jeans that are great for cold days, and some flannel lined Carhart canvass work pants that are outstanding for those almost-raining drizzle days we have here in Seattle – they’re super warm and the weave on the heavy canvass is tight enough that they block the wind and stay warm and mostly dry even if there’s a few minutes of light rain.

  9. Mike r says:

    Oh yeah, the other thing I like about those lined canvass Carhart’s is that they come in black as well as the standard Carhart brown, and the black ones actually look dressy enought that I can get away with wearing them in my office and other professional settings, so I don’t have to hassle with changing clothes when I get to work.

  10. rye2008 says:

    Try a NOJ QUIET RIDER.
    Best of luck,

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