Spring in the UK is notorious for its changeable conditions. Even just commuting you're likely to encounter four seasons in one day: single-figure temperatures, clear skies and sunshine on your way in; wet, windy and warm on your way home.
Choosing motorcycle clothing that can deal with such changes in temperature and conditions can be tricky and expensive, but there is a way to stay comfortable, dry and protected regardless of what's thrown at you: layering.
Layering has worked for hikers, skiers and climbers for years, and really what you need for those, you need for motorcycling too.
Effective layering means you can stay cool on a motorcycle when it's hot, stay warm when the temperature drops, and be dry and comfortable regardless, all with the same few items of kit.
Staying dry on a bike is vital in all conditions, as a build up of moisture next to your body will stop your natural cooling mechanism, perspiration, from working when you're hot and will draw away vital body heat quickly when it's not.
Ditch that old Ramones T-Shirt: cotton can absorb up to ten times its own weight in water/perspiration and takes forever to dry. Your base layer should be either Merino Wool – it's a superb temperature regulator, naturally breathable and resists bacteria – or a similar synthetic/technical fabric. We'd recommend Rukka's Moody Shirt and Long Johns, and Dainese's D-Core Top and Pants.
Next comes the mid-layer, which is designed to trap warm air next to the body when the temperature drops. Your mid-layer can be wool, polyester fleece, down or synthetic, but whatever it is, it should be thin enough to sit comfortably under your leathers or textile suit and breathable to work with the base layer in wicking away moisture. Something like Oxford's ChillOut Over Jacket or Forcefield's Tornado Shirt and Pants are ideal and designed specifically for the job.
If your budget is tight, you don't have to go for full body coverage, just a top will do - the logic of this being if your core is warm your extremities will be too.
When the temperature rises, just take it off and wear your base layer only.
Next comes the bike layer. Although it can be argued that leather is by far the most protective and is naturally windproof and breathable, textile suits are catching up in terms of safety and are much more able to deal with the varying temperatures and conditions spring can throw at you.
Most textile suits have features and fabrics are becoming more and more sophisticated but as a general rule a good quality touring or adventure-focussed suit like the Alpinestars Ares jacket and New Land pants; Dainese's D Blizzard jacket and Galvestone trousers; or the Rukka Suki ladies jacket and trousers is your best bet.
Make sure you go for one with venting: when it’s hot, go with just the base layer and open the vents, when it’s cold, close them and add the mid-layer.
If it’s very cold or wet, an extra waterproof outer layer keeps you dry and acts as an extra barrier against wind chill
Get the best you can afford and go for a good quality technical fabric like GoreTex, as they tend to be better at keeping out the rain but are breathable.
Fill the gap between your helmet and jacket with a good neck tube or balaclava like the Alpinestars Tech, Forecefield Tornado Advance, Racer Silk Balaclava or the Oxford Deluxe. These are affordable and small enough to stash in a pocket or your luggage, so you can choose depending on the conditions.
The same rules go for your gloves as for your bike outer layer – aim for a textile glove that can deal with varying temperatures and conditions like the Alpinestars Celer, Bering Yucca GoreTex and Dainese's Mig C2 and if you can, carry an extra pair with you so you can swap, if the conditions change or if your main pair get wet.
Apply similar rules to your boots; look for touring and adventure-styles like the Daytona Road Star, Alpinestars Web GoreTex and RST Paragon II, that have waterproof and breathable fabrics and layers built in. Also invest in some proper riding socks like Alpinestars Racing Socks, Oxford's High Tech or the Sidi Faenza that will work along with them.