LAST UPDATED: November 15, 2019
Best Base Layers: Stay Warm on Your Motorcycle
Stay warm on your motorcycle with a pair of base layer pants
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PUBLISHED ON November 15, 2019
Don’t let the dropping temperatures prevent you from enjoying your motorcycle. All you need is the right base layer to keep you warm. We don’t recommend wearing just any type of long underwear, however. Base layers specifically meant for motorcycling will keep you warm and dry on long chilly rides. Read on to learn more about the three best base layers on the market.
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Benefits of Base Layers
- Warmth. When doing outdoor activities such as riding in cold weather, adding an extra layer of clothing can help keep in your body heat and block the wind. Look for a layer that has insulating technology.
- Cooling. On the other end of the base layer spectrum are the cooler base layers. These layers will pull body heat away from the body and help keep you dry and cool.
- Reduce muscle fatigue. Some base layers have compression qualities to the material. These layers will gently squeeze your muscles. This will reduce the likelihood of muscle fatigue and improve your muscle’s performance.
Types of Base Layers
This is a warm-weather lightweight base layer that feels thin. They’re designed to wear underneath your leathers when the weather gets hot. The material is incredibly breathable to allow for maximum airflow. It will also wick moisture away from your skin to help keep you cool. Your leathers won’t get gross from you sweating in them.
Winter weather base layers are designed to keep your body heat in on cold days, while also keeping you dry. The material will wick moisture away from your skin and be quick-drying to prevent you from feeling a chill. They’ll also have wind-blocking properties to prevent you from feeling the wind chill factor while riding in the winter months. The material still feels thin but will feel more heavyweight when compared to summer layers.
This is a full bodysuit that you wear underneath your riding gear. It’s mainly designed for those who wear leather riding suits or ride on the track. A full suit isn’t functional for everyday riding, though there’s nothing stopping you from wearing a full suit if you want to. It can be difficult to find the perfect fit since you’ll need the suit to fit both your upper and lower body.
Most people opt for separates when buying base layers. This gives you the freedom to buy different sizes and brands for the top and base layer bottoms. The separate pieces also give you the ability to regulate your body temperature by creating a layering system. You can also make daily tasks easier. Just be sure the top and bottom overlap at the waist for complete coverage.
Founded in Asolo, Italy, in 1963, Alpinestars is one of the most well-known brands in motorcycle gear. They’re best known for producing sportbike and track performance gear. They create feature-heavy gear that’s at the top end of the price spectrum. Investing in the Alpinestars Tech Base Bottom Men's Undergarment is well worth it for the increased performance and comfort you’ll experience.
Cortech is an American company that focuses on designing and manufacturing high-quality gear for all styles of riding. This includes apparel, luggage, and safety gear. The Cortech Journey Coolmax Long-Sleeve Crew Neck Shirt Base Layer is a quality base piece that will perform to expectations.
Another company founded in Italy, Dainese began producing motorcycle gear and apparel in 1972. It specializes in crafting gear for sportbike riding, mountain biking, and downhill skiing. The Dainese D-Core Thermo Long Base Layer Pants is a perfect example of the company’s commitment to excellence.
The goal Sedici set for itself was to produce gear on the same level as prized Italian gear, but with a price tag that’s more approachable for everyday riders. The company only uses the highest quality materials and the latest technological innovations. The Sedici Close Short Sleeve Crew Top Neck is a perfect base layer T-shirt under any riding gear.
Founded in 1974, Fox Racing is an American company that produces extreme sports equipment. This includes gear for motocross, and by extension, motorcycle gear. Its gear is designed for use in extreme and tough conditions, which makes it incredibly durable. Try the Fox Racing Attack Race LS Base Shirt on your next ride.
Base Layers Pricing
- $10-$40: These are your budget options; they have generic fits and no modern technology to increase your comfort.
- $40 to $80: You’ll find separates in this category that are a good choice. Most experienced riders start looking for layers in this price range. They’ll have comfort features and some innovative features.
- $80 to $100: You’ll find lower quality full suit base layers and high quality separates in this price range. The suits will have minimal features and basic quality material. Separates will have small details like flat-lock stitching and other innovative features.
- $100 and up: These are the highest quality suits and separates with innovative materials and several features to improve your rid performance and comfort.
Some base layers come in generic and generalized sizing. This can be OK if it happens to fit you, but if it doesn’t, then it’ll never be totally comfortable. Follow the manufacturer’s size chart and read user reviews to figure out your ideal size. Keep in mind that if the base layer has compression, then it should fit quite snug.
Consider the season that you’re buying the base layer for and then match that with the base layer you buy. You won’t want to wear summer in winter or winter in summer. For winter layers, you should look for insulating warmth, dryness, and comfort. Summer layers are thin, lightweight, or midweight while wicking sweat away from your skin to prevent your leathers or outer layer from getting gross.
Cheap materials are going to feel scratchy, cause irritation, and lose their shape. Merino wool or smartwool are the warmest choices for their breathability, temperature regulation, and moisture-wicking abilities. It also has a low weight to warmth ratio, so it’s lighter and more effective in cold conditions than other materials. Another good choice is a polyester or polypropylene blend that are considered synthetic fabrics. These materials use man-made technology to create advanced fabrics that can keep you comfortable.
- Stitching. Flat-lock stitching is the most comfortable and will prevent discomfort and chafing. This stitching will lay flat against your skin so that it’s smooth. The highest quality base layers will have as few seams as possible for the greatest amount of comfort. You especially want to avoid stitching along the inner leg and seat.
- Single or Two-Piece. You could buy a single suit that covers you from neck to wrist to ankles. This will give you complete coverage. Your other option is a separate top and bottom. This will give you more functionality while off the bike since you won’t need to completely strip down to do things like go to the bathroom.
- Ride Style. Think about your riding position when you try on your base layers on. It can help to sit on your bike in them to see how they’ll move. You want them to stay in place and not ride up anywhere. If you lean forward, you’ll want to make sure your lower back stays covered.
Best Base Layers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
You have your choice of black or white with these base layer riding pants. They come in two generic sizes: X-small/small and medium/large. The lightweight material will keep you comfortable while riding, as it’s breathable and flame-resistant. It can also help protect your legs from heat transfer.
The pants are rated for safety and are certified to FIA 8856-2000 and SFI 3.3 level 5 homologation standards. They’re also a top pick for layering for long term wear and won’t chafe.
The limited sizing may make it difficult for riders to find a perfect fit. Couple this with the fact that Alpinestars is known for running small, they’ll have a limited athletic fit. They also have a slim fit through the thighs, making them even more limited in the riders they’ll fit. The seams are also not reinforced, so they may burst on you.
Both men and women can wear these base layer pants with D-Core Thermo technology. The women’s version is black with pink trim through the thighs. The men’s versions are black with either white or gray trim.
Unlike other base layers, these pants also have a compression element to them. This will help you achieve optimal muscle performance and prevent fatigue. The material is incredibly durable with tear-resistant, anti-pilling, and abrasion-resistant qualities.
For all of the material’s good qualities, it doesn’t have wind-blocking capabilities. This means they’re not ideal for winter wear when the windchill is a concern. If you aren’t a fan of compression clothing, you may find it too constricting while riding.
You’ll find these base layer pants incredibly comfortable thanks to their lightweight materials and slim-cut design. The material is Cortech’s proprietary Coolmax mesh. They also come in a wide range of sizes from X-small through 2X-large.
There are small touches throughout the pants to increase comfort while riding. They have an elastic waistband that is snug enough to secure their fit and placement. All of the seams are done with a flat-lock stitch to prevent any chafing.
There is no compression quality to these pants, however, which can make them feel too loose in comparison to other pants. They might slip or move while riding. They also lack some of the more advanced features that other base layers have.
- Look for pants that have soft and breathable fabrics, flat-lock stitching, and a comfort waistband. You want to put on your base layer and forget about it.
- Compression materials can help keep your base layer pants in place while also preventing muscle fatigue. But for some riders, it’s too restricting. Think about this when buying your base layer.
- Base layer pants that have a matching shirt can provide the greatest protection. Look for a set that can work together under your gear for greater warmth and protection.
Q: Do I need a base layer when riding a motorcycle?
A: While you technically don’t need to wear a base layer, it can make riding in colder temperatures a lot more enjoyable. A base layer is an extra layer of material between you and the elements.
Q: Is moisture-wicking important?
A: It’s critical that your base layer has moisture-wicking qualities. This thermal layer is designed to keep heat in. The problem is that you’ll eventually get too warm. If you start to sweat, you need the base layer to pull this moisture away from your skin. This will keep you comfortable and reduce your risk of catching a chill from wearing damp clothing.
Q: Is wind resistance important in a base layer?
A: Regular base layers typically don’t have wind-blocking abilities. This is a problem when you’re on a bike where all you feel is the wind. An outside temperature of 50 degrees will feel much colder at 45-55 miles per hour. Look for base layers that can block wind because the greater the wind, the lower the temperature will feel.
The Alpinestars ZX EVO Pants provide the greatest level of warmth and protection under your riding gear. If this race quality gear is too expensive, the Dainese D-Mantle Base Layer Undergarment is a high-quality yet more affordable option.