by Kevin Kocur
By the time you read this, we’ll be another month closer to riding season. Some scooterists will NOT ride unless the sun is out and the temps are in the 50s – or higher. With that in mind, I’d like to talk about cool-weather riding gear and scooter accessories that can extend anyone’s riding season.
Things to add to your scooter include, but are not limited to: a windshield, hand guards and a lap apron. Windshields come in several sizes and shapes. Your local retailer can help you choose the best one for your scoot. There are basically two types of hand guards: soft and solid. The soft type resemble mittens that attach around your hand controls. You then stick your hand inside them to operate your scooter. The hard type look very much like the hand protectors found on off-road and Dual Sport motorcycles. The ones that I prefer attach on your existing mirror mounts and will help keep the wind off your mitts. Lap aprons wrap around your lap and legs to keep the wind off and help keep your warm.
As with any modifications you make to your scooter, always test everything on a non-busy street before setting out on a longer ride. A tall windshield, soft hand guards and a lap apron can affect how you operate your scooter.
1. Helmet. For obvious reasons, I like full-faced helmets for cooler weather. When weather gets colder, face shields tend to fog up faster. Some helmets come with a quality anti-fog shield. I run a face shield insert on two of my helmets with great results. Some riders go with anti-fog snowmobile helmets.
2. Jacket. Usually, your choices here are leather or textile. Textile jackets are often cheaper than leather. Most weigh less and offer better venting and water resistance then leather. I think they make for a good choice for scooterists. I’ve seen people ride in their winter coat or ski jacket, but I prefer something with a little body armor in it.
3. Pants. Again, choices come down to leather or textile. Some of the textile pants feature a removable, insulated liner. Other options include snowmobile/ski bibs or pants. One MMM® staffer swears by insulated work bibs.
4. Gloves. Leather or textile, with gauntlets and insulation. How much insulation you want is up to you. The thicker the glove, the less feel you’ll have for your controls. I have several pairs of textile gauntlets for spring and fall, and a pair of leather, heavy-insulated snowmobile gauntlets for winter use. I suggest trying on a pair at your local dealer and then sitting on your scooter to get a feel for the controls.
5. Boots. Again, taller and insulated work best. My current pair are insulated and waterproof and I love them. Twist-’n-go riders have an advantage when it comes to boots, since they don’t use their feet to operate the brakes. Even heavy, clunky winter boots will work. Just make sure they provide the proper traction needed for when you put your foot down.
6. Layer, layer, LAYER. The cheapest and most effective way to stay warm in cool weather is to layer your clothing. A long sleeve t-shirt and fleece liner under your jacket works really well. The beauty of layering is that you can easily remove items as the day gets warmer.
7. Electric heated gear. I’ve been using heated gear for eleven years now and wonder how I ever got by without it. The Maxi-scooter riders have an advantage, since most of their scooters have a higher-output charging system that allows them to run heated gear. My old Vespa barely has enough juice to run the headlamp, let alone a heated vest. One option that I’ve seen is to add an additional battery, to power your heated vest. Of course, you’d need to charge the battery every night. There’s also heated gear that runs off of self-contained batteries. I bought a battery-powered vest two seasons ago. The battery pack doubles as the thermostat. At the Motorcycle Show last weekend, I even saw battery powered socks and gloves.
8. Don’t forget about your neck! Wind triangles, neck gaiters, balaclavas and even a simple scarf can help ward off the cold from this area. What’s the use in bundling up with all that gear if you still have an exposed area of skin?
I hope this article helps some of you to extend your riding season. I try to have my old Vespa out the minute the roads are clear enough. Just remember that there’s a lot of sand on the roads this year, so be extra careful!