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Is it cold yet?

November 23, 2012
Jeff and Wanda

Jeffraham Prestonian and Wanda (photos courtesy Jeffraham Prestionian)

At this time last year, it was colder than a mo-fo in Bellingham; this year, the temperatures are much milder, and the snow is staying in the mountains where it belongs! 😉

However, other parts of the U.S. are experiencing the cold weather that goes along with late fall and early winter. Contributor and frequent commenter Jeffraham Prestonian offers some tips for dressing for the ride in cold weather, after the jump.

Name: Jeffraham Prestonian
Age: 49
Hometown: Ashland, Kentucky

What do you ride? A white 2011 Honda PCX (“Wanda”); in storage, a wineberry “project” 2007 Kymco People 250 (“Bad Penny”).

How long have you been riding? I’ve been two wheels only since November, 2006. So, just over six years now.

Why do you ride a scooter? Because I am, by necessity, a frugal guy. Any scooter versus my last car (a 1997 Ford Mustang convertible, V6) saves me at least $1500/year in fuel and insurance costs. In fact, full coverage insurance for “Wanda” per year costs me less than what three months of liability insurance, alone, cost for that Mustang! And at better than 90 MPG, well… yeah. But riding a scoot is also more fun than most things you can do fully-clothed, which is a huge factor, as well. Icing on the cake.

So, you ride year-round? Yes–rain or shine, hot or cold. It’s still faster than the bus, and way cheaper than cab fare! I don’t ride if it’s icy, though. That’s not a winning formula for staying healthy.

Green FroggToggs

Any pointers for riding in winter weather? Layers, layers, layers—topped off with a wind- and waterproof, breathable shell. I’m now using Frogg Toggs Horny Toadz (not the $60-70 Frogg Toggs suits, which are not very durable) for my outer shell, and 2-3 light fleece layers underneath. I learned this the hard way, starting out with bulky jackets that would limit my mobility, and only keep me warm for a short amount of time while riding—the air that gets past the front zipper in most winter jackets is a serious comfort killer. If you have a good windproof shell with an appropriate zipper flap, the inner layers can do their job of trapping warm air next to your body and keeping it there, so your core stays nice and comfy. A comfortable ride is more likely to be a safe ride, in my mind.


What about gloves, and boots? I have not found any gloves that really do the job. I’ve resisted going with electrically-powered gloves up to this point, but that may be the only way. I have a pair of Columbia ski gloves that I got on sale for about $60, and they’re good for 15-20 minutes riding at 50 MPH under 40°F. The bad thing about them is that the liner and the shell are only attached at the wrist, so the liners can get wadded up inside the shell, and they’re impossible to put on properly at that point. The best I have for under-40°F riding are some Gordini ski mitts, which do take some getting used to, ergonomically, especially on the throttle hand. They work quite well as long as they stay dry; when the inner liner gets wet, whether from rain or perspiration, they’re almost useless. On dry days, I’ll often just put on my Bilt summer riding gloves with a pair or two of cheap, jersey gloves, over-top (layers!). That seems to work pretty well for me down to about 35°F. On wet days, it’s the mittens!

For boots, I just wear my daily work boots, which are Red Wings steel-toe work boots. They’re pretty water-resistant, which is good, since I work with water, all day, and they provide ankle and toe protection. With a nice wool-blend sock, they’re good down to about 35°F. The coldest I’ve ever ridden in was 17°F, and I’m not sure there’s all that much you can do at those temperatures to keep hands and feet warm for very long!

(Of course, there’s also this company called REI that sells all kinds of cold- and foul-weather gear… —Ed.) Favicon

A version of this story appeared previously on

  1. November 29, 2012 11:17 am

    How do you keep the wind from blowing up inside your pant legs?

  2. November 29, 2012 12:58 pm

    Mark, on the Vespas that was never a problem… the legshield provides considerable protection. Even so, when riding in cold weather I would at least wear thick socks that come up to my knees; if I were going to be riding for a long time, or in temps close to my 35°F limit, I’d wear long thermal underwear.

  3. November 30, 2012 10:19 am

    Mark Morris: That’s not been a problem for me with this gear on the PCX. The PCX doesn’t have massive plastic in front of one’s feet, but the shape of the faring and body panels apparently keep the air from heading that direction.

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