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Here's everything you need to know about motorcycle base layers and staying covered this Autumn/Winter.

The Autumn/Winter season in the UK is notorious for its unforgiving weather conditions and unpredictable temperature drops. Even just commuting to work will likely see you encounter fog, single-figure temperatures, and sunshine in the morning, then 50mph winds and rain showers on the way home. Not even mentioning frost or, forbid the thought, snow!

Choosing motorcycle clothing that can handle these drastic changes in temperature and conditions can be difficult (and expensive!), but the best way to keep on top of temperature, comfort and humidity regulation is layering. Layering has worked for hikers, skiers and climbers for years, and this is no different when it comes to motorcycling, whether your touring, commuting or everyday riding.

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. Don’t suffer the effects of global warming, and wise up on your base layers - here is everything you need to know. (Last Updated: 10 November 2021). 

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Base Layer Tops and Bottoms

  1. Dainese D-Core Thermo Top and Leggings
  2. Rukka Outlast Shirt and Long Johns
  3. Oxford Warm Dry Top and Bottoms

Mid Layers and Fleece Jackets

  1. Knox Urbane Pro MK2 Shirt
  2. Rukka Aldrich Fleece Jacket
  3. Keis J501 Heated Jacket

Outer Jackets

  1. Rukka Kalix 2 Gore-Tex Jacket

Neckwarmers and Balaclavas

  1. Alpinestars Neck Warmer
  2. EDZ All-Climate Balaclava

Base Layer Gloves

  1. Racer Silk Undergloves
  2. Keis G102 Inner Gloves

Base Layer Socks

  1. RST Tour Tech Socks
  2. Alpinestars Racing Road Socks
  3. Keis Heated Insoles

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Base Layer Tops and Bottoms

The ideal base layer will maintain your body temperature when worn in a certain season or climate and wick away moisture (sweat) from your skin to prevent damp. As the bottom layer within a jacket or trouser, it's the base layer's job to retain heat in the winter and inhale cool air during the summer, while controlling the sweat you build up from your ride. 

Staying dry on your bike is essential, no matter the weather conditions at the time. The build-up of moisture next to your body will stop your natural-cooling system, otherwise known as perspiration, from working when you're hot, and this will draw away vital body heat quickly when it's cold.

This can be done through various fabrics and technologies, the most common being synthetic textile and merino wool.

Cotton as a technical base layer is unsuitable to be worn under your waterproof layers, as the material can absorb up to 10 times its weight in water/perspiration and can take AGES to get dry. So ditch that old Ramones T-shirt: your base layer should be made of a temperature-regulating fabric that's naturally breathable, moisture-wicking, and anti-bacterial.

When it comes to sizing, your base layers should be tight-fitting so it traps air next to your skin and insulate the body when cold. This should also be the same for your Summer base layers, as this will allow air to come into contact with your body, and expel hot air. With this in mind, you should buy a size that you normally wear, as the base layer will come up slightly smaller to be tighter to your body.

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Dainese D-Core Thermo Top & Leggings
£59.95 RRP

➤ Made from abrasion and tear-resistant elastic fibres.
➤ Active moisture management system controls sweat and keeps you dry.
➤ Ideal for year-round temperatures from -20°C to 10°C.

If you're after an everyday base layer for Autumn/Winter, the Dainese D-Core range are a top choice in this regard. A pair of long-sleeve garments intended to wear underneath your motorcycle jacket and trousers, the D-Core Thermo top and leggings are packed with a number of features that make this a far more effective option than a T-Shirt.

Suitable for temperatures ranging from -20°C to 10°C, the D-Core Thermo is equipped with 3D Frame armour that provides thermal insulates and retains optimal body heat.

The garment's active moisture-wicking technology prevents sweat build-up and odour, while air grid design encourages moisture evaporation. The elasticated fibres of the jacket are soft yet strong, being resistant to abrasion and tearing, and are combined with lightweight armour padded at the vulnerable parts of your upper torso.

On top of this, the fibres of this Dainese base layer are environmentally friendly and also100% recyclable!

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Rukka Outlast Long-Sleeve Shirt
Was £55.00 Now £49.49

➤ Woven with temperature-regulating Outlast textile.
➤ Keeps you warm when the weather's cold, and cool when it's hot.
➤ Releases surplus heat to prevent sweating

The Rukka Outlast top is a long-sleeved base layer shirt perfect for wear under your motorcycle clothing in all manner of weather.

Made from a combination of comfortable polyester and stretch elastane, the shirt is woven with Outlast textile which manages your microclimate to absorb, store and release excess heat.  What this basically does is regulate your internal temperature to keep you cool when it gets hot and warm when it gets cold.

Ideal for a range of activity levels and environments, the Outlast shirt resists odour and prevents sweat build up after hours of wear and features a seamless construction for a longer lifespan.

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Oxford Layers Warm Dry Long Sleeve Top
£34.99 RRP

➤ Versatile long-sleeve base layer for all year wear.
➤ Retains body warmth during cold rides and wicks moisture away.
➤ Anti-odour and anti-bacterial.

The Oxford Warm Dry Layers top is a long-sleeve base layer ideal for year-round wear thanks to its moisture-wicking and thermal insulative abilities.

Constructed from comfortable polyester and stretch spandex, this close-fitting Oxford top is capable of retaining your body warmth in colder months and releasing moisture to prevent sweat build-up.

Boasting an anti-odour and anti-bacterial treatment, the Warm Dry shirt is fast drying and long enough at the torso to be tucked into your motorcycle trousers without riding up.

You can check out the full range of base layer tops and bottoms here. 

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Mid-Layers and Fleece Jackets

Next up are mid-layers, which you may or may not choose to wear, but are a smart decision especially for Winter. The more layers you wear, the more air is trapped against your skin to insulate your body heat, and is far more effective than one singular thick layer.

The optimal layering system consists of a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. For example, you can wear a Summer base layer intended to wick away moisture, with a thermal mid-layer over the top to retain warmth.

The mid-layer can be made of wool, polyester fleece, down or synthetic fabric: but whatever it is, it should be thin enough to sit comfortably under your regular leathers or textiles as more often than not, they do not have armour (excluding the Knox Urbane Pro).

This is so you retain the flexibility to steer your motorcycle without feeling constrained and be breathable enough to work with the base layer to wick away moisture.

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 only your base layer under your outer layer.

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Knox Urbane Pro MK2 Armoured Shirt
Was £230 Now £206.98

➤ High-tenacity nylon and arrow mesh makes the shirt abrasion and tear-resistant.
➤ Fixed Micro-Lock armour covers your upper body with malleable, CE protection.
➤ Stretch mesh panels allow for breathability, flexibility and added comfort.

If you're after something with a bit more protection, the Knox Urbane Pro is a fantastic bit of kit designed specifically for that need. This shirt keeps CE approved armour close to the body for the best possible protection and abrasion resistance and is a perfect mid-layer under a warmer outer jacket.

Integrated into the shirt is Knox's self-developed Micro-Lock armour that contorts to your body's movements, and hardens upon impact - no matter the temperature you're riding in.

This armour can be found on the shoulders, elbows, and back, with the option to add an additional chest protector if desired. Stretchy mesh panels on either side of the shirt allows you to move without restriction, while also letting in a cool stream of air in the Summer (you can just throw on another layer during the winter months).

With storage pockets throughout, and thumb loops to prevent your cuffs from rolling up while riding: the Urbane Pro is a fantastic mid-layer that protects and prevents injury.

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Rukka Aldrich Fleece Jacket
Was £109.99 Now ​£99.98

➤ Three-layer knitted fleece jacket.
➤ The Rukka A.W.S windproof membrane ensures 100% windproofing.
➤ Multiple pockets and contrast ripstop detailing.

The Rukka Aldrich is a windproof and breathable three-layer fleece jacket made from knitted textile with a ripstop detailing.

Incorporated with Rukka AWS for effective wind resistance whilst allowing humid air to pass through for internal cooling, this mid-layer is designed to be worn underneath your protective outer layer on your bike or as a standalone jacket.

Featuring contrasting ripstop detailing and stretch panels for flexibility, a plethora of pockets for storage and adjustable cuffs and hem for a custom fit.

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Keis J501 Heated Jacket
£200 RRP

➤ Premium heated jacket, perfect for winter motorcycle riding.
➤ Uses the heat pads for advanced heat radiation to the upper torso.
➤ Powered by bike battery for use on the bike, or by a portable battery pack for use off of it.

The Keis Premium Heated Jacket is the latest in heating technology, making even the coldest rides enjoyable. Introduced in 2017, the Keis jacket is lightweight, versatile, and provides optimal heat control.

The latest micro carbon-fibre panels provide the heating, emitting an even distribution of heat across your chest, kidneys, collar and arms. Compatible with the Keis Heated Controller, the jacket’s heating technology is more reliable, thinner and flexible than earlier versions, and provides complete upper body comfort.

Constructed of softshell fabric, the Keis jacket incorporates a lighter, slimmer design ideal for wear as an inside layer or an outer jacket. Flexible for rider movement on and off the bike, the elasticated side panels allow for the perfect fit for both men and women. Bear in mind for a more snug fit, you may need to order a smaller chest size.

The Premium Heated jacket is complete with all the required wiring and easy-to-follow instructions for anyone to use, as well as dedicated zipped pockets for cable and controller to keep your system organised. This Keis long sleeve jacket also includes a standard heat controller for convenient climate control on the motorcycle.

You can check out the full range of mid-layer clothing here.

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Outer Layers

Obviously, when you’re considering layers, you need to think about the jacket, as you’re going to wear on top of everything. It needs to be abrasion-resistant to the road, as well as provide protection against the harshest weather conditions. It’s also the one layer everyone sees, so you’re going to want a jacket that is also visually stylish!

Although it can be argued that leather suits are by far the most protective and is naturally windproof and breathable, textile suits are catching up in terms of safety and are much more versatile to deal with the varying temperatures and conditions spring can throw at you. Things to look out for are waterproof, breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex and Alpinestars' Drystar; these will help control moisture, and keep the rain out too. Also, keep an eye out for a thermal lining; some of these are detachable, allowing you to take it off when it gets warmer, and put it on when the frost hits.

As a general rule, a good quality touring or adventure-focused suit should be A. Waterproof, B. Breathable, & C. Insulating. It should go without saying that an outer layer should protect against... the outside. Rain, heat, cold - these should be things your jacket should protect you from, and a decent versatile jacket should be the highest layer on your checklist.

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Rukka Kalix 2 Gore-Tex Jacket
Was £599.99 Now £539.99

➤ Gore-Tex Pro 3-Layer laminate suit that is completely waterproof and breathable.
➤ Rukka's own D30 Air limb protectors with a pocket for an optional back protector.
➤ Detachable thermal lining, zip-operated air vents and zipper for connecting jacket/trousers.

The Rukka Kalix 2 is an outstanding outer layer, with everything you can want from a durable motorcycle jacket/trouser.

Rukka have a reputation for creating long-lasting products that are weather-resistant and protective for whatever the road throws at you, and the Kalix 2.0 is a prime example of an outer layer that can seal out the elements while being durable enough to resist abrasion. 

The jacket/trousers are made from abrasion and tear-resistant Cordura 500 materials, with a 100% waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex installed into the inner layers of the garments. Rukka's self-developed D30 armour can be found at the limbs, while a back pocket allows for an optional back protector should you want one.

Mesh inserts on the front of the jacket allow a comfortable stream of air to keep you cool during the warmer months and can be closed via opening the zips found on either side of the jacket reveal mesh inserts that can allow for a comfortable stream of air to enter the jacket, allowing a steady amount of airflow in between the zipper and mesh inserts for comfortable airflow on sides.

Also featuring a variety of pockets, a detachable thermal liner, as well as a soft neoprene collar on the jacket that connects with the helmet, blocking the wind from entering in through neck; this Rukka combo is a premium versatile outer layer pair ideal for the cold seasons ahead.

If you're after a Gore-Tex jacket, we recommend giving our Everything You Need To Know About Waterproofing and our Top 10 Best Waterproof Jackets articles a read, or check out the full range here.

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Base Layer Neckwarmers and Balaclavas

While base and outer layers protect the majority of your body, oftentimes these don't provide total coverage from the climate. Your skin can be left exposed in between the helmet and jacket or between your glove and jacket sleeve, which will not only result in a loss of heat but the penetration of cold air to your body.

You can fill the gap between your helmet and jacket with a good neck tube or balaclava like the Alpinestars Tech, Buff NeckwearEDZ All Climate Balaclava. These are affordable and small enough to stash in a pocket or your luggage, so you can choose depending on the conditions.

If you're after a premium option, you can't buy much better than Buff. Their machine-washable neckwear provides all-around thermal comfort and prevents the build-up of bacteria. Not to mention the variety of styles and materials available, and you're bound to find the Buff that suits you.

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Alpinestar Neckwarmer
Was £13.99 Now £11.69

➤ Made from double-layered fleece
➤ Lightweight, stretchy with a one-size-fits-all
➤ Moisture-wicking, embroidered Alpinestars logo on front

This neck warmer from Alpinestars is perfect for winter riding thanks to the high level of comfort and wind protection. Ideal for covering your exposed neck between your helmet and jacket, this fleece neck warmer resists chilly winds to keep you warm throughout your ride.

Made from double-layered comfort fleece, this neck warmer is moisture-wicking to prevent overheating and sweat build-up, with stretch material to fit over your head and sit comfortably around your neck.

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EDZ All-Climate Balaclava
£14 RRP

➤ Made from a lightweight, performance polyester that is durable but soft.
➤ Perfect for summer and winter use.
➤ Moisture-wicking and fast-drying.

The All-Climate Balaclava by EDZ is exactly what it says on the tin. This high-performance balaclava can be worn in both hot and cold temperatures to wick moisture away and keep you comfortable under your helmet.

The thin polyester material is fine as silk while durable to last years of use and has a three-panel design that prevents leaving a mark on your forehead.

You can check out the full range of base layer neckwear and balaclavas here.

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Base Layer Gloves

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 Richa Arctic Gore-Tex, Rukka Virium Gore-Tex and Alpinestars Andes V3 gloves and if you can, carry an extra pair with you so you can swap, if the conditions change or if your main pair gets wet. You can't go wrong with Alpinestars, Rukka, Knox gloves.

This goes the same between your glove and jacket, or between your boot and trouser leg, as a decent inner glove or sock would provide additional warmth in the colder seasons. We recommend the Racer Silk Inner gloves or the RST Tour Tech socks.

Protecting exposed skin from the extremities of winter is essential, and while layering is integral for winter riding, it’s important to factor your choice of the glove into the equation. Often a rider’s afterthought, your hands bear most of the weather's brunt as they are positioned the furthest away from your body, and are at most risk of freezing over while you’re steering!

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Racer Silk Inner Gloves
£13.99 RRP

➤ Made from 100% silk.
➤ Ideal as a thermal lining within a hardshell glove.
➤ Flexible and unrestrictive.

Already own a pair of waterproof gloves but think they could be warmer? These silk gloves by Racer could be the answer: designed to be worn underneath a more durable and protective outer glove, these inner gloves are slim, flexible, provide additional warmth similar to a thermal, and comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

They’re also an economical choice and can be combined with your summer gloves for additional insulation rather than spend a premium on a winter-specific glove.

The Racer Silk gloves are a perfect add-on to your basket for just £13.99 in-store and online.

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Keis G102 Heated Inner Gloves
£75 RRP

➤ 12V Dual Power heating for use anywhere, anytime.
➤ Lightweight stretch material for use under your outer gloves.
➤ Can be powered by your bike's battery or portably by an independent battery pack (sold separately).

The Keis G102 inner gloves are designed to be worn underneath a pair of bulkier winter gloves or even your regular waterproof gloves. The G102 are super-low-profile to be as unobtrusive as possible when you have them on – they will not feel like you are wearing a tonne of fabric wrapped around your hands and you will still have full responsive feedback from your bike’s controls.

Unlike the garments you do not need a layer between the heated glove and your skin, this is the same for all Keis gloves.

The G102 are made from a lightweight, stretchy material that gives them a tight and close fit on your hands. The gloves come with all the wiring you need to get them set up, the specific glove Y-lead is superbly designed to thread through your clothing without getting in the way, and though a heated controller does not come with the gloves, Keis say that you will not really need one.

If you're after a motorcycle glove for winter, we definitely recommend giving a read of our Best Winter Motorcycle Gloves article. Alternatively, you can find the 7 best mid-season gloves here.

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Base Layer Socks

Apply similar rules to your boots; look for touring and adventure styles like the Daytona Road Star, Alpinestars Web GoreTex and RST Paragon II, which have waterproof and breathable fabrics and layers built-in. Also invest in some proper riding socks like Alpinestars Racing Socks, Oxford OxSocks or the RST Tour Tech socks that will work along with them.

With so many different kinds of boots available, there are a lot of factors to bear in mind when shopping. A leather or textile boot will affect flexibility, while a motocross or sports bike boot will offer protection against different kinds of falls.

Sizes don’t necessarily translate the same across brands either, for example, Daytona boots fit big to size, while Dainese boots are skinnier along the bridge, but both stock European sizes.

We recommend measuring your shoe size, so you have a base idea of your fit before deciding. You can try before you buy by walking into one of our 15 UK stores and asking one of our friendly, expert staff for advice, or you can take advantage of our returns and exchange policy to find the right size for you.

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RST Tour Tech Socks
£11.99 RRP

➤ Knee-high cotton/nylon sock with elasticated top.
➤ Padded Achilles, shin and heel for additional comfort and protection.
➤ Woven with moisture-wicking Coolmax to keep you dry.

Made to wear underneath your motorcycle boots, the RST Tour Tech socks are specially developed to enhance overall comfort and fit.

These knee-length RST socks are double-layered at the toes, shins, heels and Achilles for long-term comfort and increased grip. The elasticated cuff prevents the socks from riding down, and the Coolmax yarn helps to keep your feet dry throughout.

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Alpinestars Racing Road Socks (Short / Long)
From £14.99 RRP

➤ Available as either low-cut or knee-high socks.
➤ Ribbed design at the heel and ankle to reduce bunching
➤ Coolmax textile and Nostatex sole provide moisture-wicking and odour resistance.

Available in either short and long length versions to accommodate low-cut or knee-high boots, these Alpinestars socks are a great base sock for the everyday rider.

Like aforementioned Tour Tech socks from RST, the Alpinestars Racing Road socks are woven with Coolmax for moisture-wicking properties, but these socks are also integrated with a Nostatex silver yarm sole for an anti-bacterial, odour-resistant base.

The heels and ankles are ribbed to reduce the socks falling down, and areas of the foot feature mesh to release humid air.

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Keis S102 Heated Boot Insole
£75 RRP

➤ Soft-touch microfibre touring boots with Gore-Tex waterproof lining.
➤ CE certified with ankle retention system, heel guards, PU shift pad and ergonomic shin plates.
➤ Interchangeable anatomic comfort bed and ultra-light rubber sole.

The Keis S102 Heated Insoles are a fantastic piece of kit for keeping your trotters warm throughout the autumn/winter seasons.

Replacing the insoles of your boots with these Keis insoles provide thermal warmth from the start to the end of your journey, thanks to the micro-alloy fibre technology built into the unit.

Everything you need to set off is included in the unit: simply connect the insoles directly to your bike for constant heat energy, or power them with a Keis rechargeable power pack for warmth on the go.

Great for those riders who can't seem to shift cold feet. Designed to accomodate a range of boot sizes with a one-size-fits-all, your feet will wonder why you didn't buy these sooner! 
 

You're now wised up on base layers! If you found this guide helpful, share it around with your fellow biker! If you want to read up on more guides, you can read up our guide on Gore-Tex here, or you can read up on last year's best winter motorcycle gloves.

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This article was written by Jonah Son, Digital Marketing Executive at Infinity Motorcycles.

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