Keeping Cool In The Heat
When it's not raining in Pittsburgh, it's hot. Like really, really hot. There have been several times when I wanted to choose the air conditioning of my car over the saddle of my motorcycle. I didn't give in, though. This year I chose to find ways to keep riding despite temperatures in the upper 80's and stand-still traffic on the way home. Here are some ways that you can be keeping cool in the heat!
One of the simplest accessories you can purchase for your motorcycle is a drink holder. You can order a manufacturer-specific drink holder or you can order an aftermarket model. I have researched and tried many different drink holders on the market and my favorite is a universal drink holder from Kuryakyn. It features a chrome outer ring big enough for a 44 ounce drink in its mesh basket.
There are rubber grips on the inner circle of the chrome that allow you to carry smaller drinks all the way down to a 12-ounce bottle of water.
For long distances, one of the best products I've used is the CamelBak hands-free hydration system. According to www.camelbak.com, the first CamelBak products were popular with mountain bikers and motocross riders. It began to cross over into other sports when scientific studies showed athletes drank more fluids and performed better when they wore a CamelBak.
For me, it proved successful when I traveled almost 1,000 miles in one of the hottest weekends I've seen in a long time. On that trip a few years ago, my wife wore it and filled it up every time we stopped for gas with ice and water from a beverage dispenser. While on the road I found it easy to drink and it felt great when she sprayed it on my back every now and again to cool me off at 70 mph on extremely hot asphalt.
Another product that I like to use is a neck cooler. All you have to do is soak the bandana in water and it inflates with a cooling gel. Surprisingly, the bandana stays cool most of the day, and at night I just soak it in the ice bucket in the hotel room and it's ready to go the next day. Most sporting goods stores carry neck coolers during season.
In addition to finding ways to hydrate and cool your body, there are products to keep the heat of your motorcycle away from you. A slam dunk for any big-twin rider is a heat deflector that mounts right under the rider's seat and directly above the engine. It points most of the engine heat away from the rider and passenger.
Motorcycles with lower fairings now have accessories that provide a vent to allow air onto your legs and feet to keep you cool on a hot summer day. There also are products that allow you to replace your bolt-on parts with a quick release for your lower fairings so you can remove them altogether and store them with very little effort.
The oil you use in your motorcycle can make a small difference in heat. Choosing synthetic over traditional motor oil and adding an oil cooler will bring the temperature of the motor down a few degrees. Don't expect a night-and-day difference, but every degree counts.
Although we only have a month and a half left in the summer, now is the time to look for these products at Hot Metal Harley-Davidson and sporting good stores as they get ready to re-merchandise for the fall.