It’s the time of year when Detroit scooterists take a long hard look at what they’ve accomplished riding throughout the year. Perhaps you’ve put thousands of miles of commuting on your scoot. Maybe you got a couple of long-distance rides in, or even an overnight trip. For some of you, it was the usual ’round the neighborhood, to the store and just plain fun riding. No matter what kind of riding you got done over the summer months, it’s time to take a look at the rest of the year. Riding season doesn’t have to be over! As the fall weather comes in and the leaves start to drop, it’s time to take a quick look at your gear – the riding season isn’t over quite yet!
The first thing to do is to perform an inventory – this is to identify what gear you have. The idea is to first, find all the stuff, and second, make sure that it still works correctly. Find an area where you can make a few piles. Put some music on or turn on the TV and go through your fall/winter riding gear. Here’s a list of things you might find:
Under layer: This is the dirty little secret of comfortable riding, and this gear doesn’t have to be expensive.
- Long-sleeve t-shirts
- Thermal underwear
- Socks (wool and wool-blend)
2nd layer: What people will see you wearing, business casual or scooter comfortable.
- Long sleeved casual or dress shirts
- Dress or casual pants (wool blend or flannel-lined)
- Sweatshirts or shirt jackets
3rd layer: The extra protective layer that faces the real world when you are on your scoot.
- Leather or textile jacket with full removable liner and armor
- Heavy winter motorcycle gloves
- Buff or other neck gaiter
- Heavy boots
These three layers will preserve your comfort as it gets colder. They will insulate you with multiple layers and allow your body heat to circulate close to your skin. These three layers will help keep you comfortable for short trips near 30 degrees. There is another pile reserved for the hard-core winter rider:
The advanced winter rider:
- Heavy textile winter motorcycle jacket with removable liner and armor
- Heavy-duty winter pants (either ski pants or some of the military surplus bib pants)
- Heavy winter motorcycle gloves with liner/external cover or heated option (or heated grips on your scoot)
- Military specification heavy boots
- One-piece thermal suit
- Heated vest or jacket
This gear, along with heated grips/handlebar muffs, will allow most riders to brave temperatures at 30 degrees or under for short trips. Remember that wind chill is rather dramatic on a scooter, and that proper precautions must be taken in the event of snow, freezing rain or ice. The presence of any of these means no scooting that day. Particularly dangerous is when the temps of the day cause snow melt and that water re-freezes on the road – the dreaded black ice. If you get caught when there is black ice out, park your scooter immediately and find another way home.
But back to our fall/winter riding preparation and our piles of gear on the floor. Once its all out, take a close look at each piece of gear. It’s a great time to do a little preventative maintenance on what you find. Start with washing them. Now is the time to carefully remove any armor, pre-treat any spots or stains, wash – in the machine or by hand, and hang them to dry. When they are dry, take a look at anything that appears amiss. That old sticking zipper, small tear or that loose hem. A couple of dollars invested on your gear with a local tailor will pay off when it really gets cold and you could get “one more year” out of them too.
Once your gear is clean and fully functional, it’s time to check it out. On a cool day, practice putting all your layers on and maybe taking some short rides around your neighborhood to get use to the new flexibility limits that your gear imposes on you. It’s much better to get used to the layers on a bright afternoon than a cold, dark morning. Also, it might be time to install your handlebar muffs and try out your scooter aprons or other unique pieces of gear that don’t get used a lot during the summer. They’ll be used soon enough!
What’s next: 15-minute scooter check