A proper base layer makes riding so much more comfortable. They’re far better than just wearing a T-shirt under your motorcycle leathers in summer or a long-sleeve in winter.
They stop seams, armour and zips from chafing and the compression fit helps stabilise your muscles, helping to reduce fatigue.
There are different base layers for different seasons: Summer and Winter but you can also get All-Year base layers which act as thermals in winter but their moisture-wicking characteristics also keep you cool and dry in hot weather.
Summer: Staying Cool
Who’d have thought by adding an extra layer, you could keep cool during the summer? With the help of a summer base layer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Not only do they help get leather suits on and off, but the thin, lightweight material is specially designed to wick moisture away from your skin. Keeping you dry and comfortable.
The best summer base layers are breathable, washable and quick drying. This way, if you’re touring, you can quickly rinse them in the sink, whack them outside to dry, and they’re ready to wear again in no time.
There are plenty of designs on the market, some include additional mesh panels for further cooling or pre-curved compression fit to prevent tired muscles. To help you choose the best summer base layers, we’ve created this handy guide with what to look for and a few recommended layers for inspiration.
This baselayer top is constructed from fast wicking and drying breathable fabric with thermal properties to keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot. Designed to fit your upper body shape, it adds comfort and reduces muscle fatigue. It features a flat-seam construction to avoid uncomfortable pressure points.
These bottoms are made from moisture-wicking material to keep you cool and comfortable. Including additional muscle support to prevent fatigue, these bottoms are pre-curved with flat seams for less noticeable wear. If you’ve never worn leggings before they might feel a bit odd when you first put them on but they allow your gear to move freely, which is excellent when you’re wearing leathers as it’s so much easier to move around on the bike.
Winter: Keeping Warm
When you’re out on the road in the winter, the cold weather doesn’t stop your body sweating. Not only is sweat uncomfortably sticky, once it begins to cool, but your body heat can also drop quickly. By investing in a winter base layer, you can create a thin layer of protection against your skin which aims to keep your body warm and dry.
Winter base layers are usually made from synthetic material or merino wool. Both options have thermal properties to trap a layer of warm air between it and your skin. The result is a toasty warm feeling you need in cold climates. Base layers also work by drawing sweat away from the skin and providing an added layer of windproofing to stop the shivers.
There’s plenty of options out there, so we’ve created a short guide on the best winter base layers, including what to look out for when choosing yours.
The Mark is made from 100% polyester and features a high collar with zip closure. The construction makes this top lightweight and flexible for more comfortable wear. The trousers are more of the same. They keep moisture away from your skin while the membrane helps trap heat in and keep the cold out.
The Warmcore bottoms by DXR are incredibly lightweight and breathable for winter base-layers. Made from a thin, elasticated material which hugs your body shape, these bottoms offer enhanced insulation thanks to their hollow-fibre, quilted construction. The fabric is designed to keep heat in, yet still, manage to keep moisture away from the skin for comfortable all-day wear.
All Season Riding: Temperature Control
Not quite as warm or as thick as dedicated Winter motorcycle thermals but slightly thicker than Summer gear. They don’t have a thermal lining but the material is designed to keep you warm but also to wick-away moisture whether it’s hot or cold outside, ensuring you stay dry and comfortable, whatever the weather.
If you’re looking for one top to last you throughout the year whether it’s minus something when you leave the house or whether you’re already feeling a sweat coming on just getting into your bike kit. This Rukka top is well proven in all conditions. Our tip is to go for a size one larger than you usually would for maximum comfort.
Motorcycle Base Layers Buying Guide
Choosing the best base layers is straight forward as long as you know what design features to look out for. In a nutshell, winter base layers should be lightweight, thermal, and windproof. No matter what your budget, these are the features that we think summer base layers should include:
- Type of base layer: Base layers come in one or two pieces; depending on your riding style, determines which is the best base layers for you. If you’re wearing race leathers, choosing a one-piece in sometimes a better option; it prevents the suit from riding up and bunching. A two-piece base layer is far more flexible and great for touring and out on the road.
- Ease of access: Trying to take off a one-piece base layer isn’t an easy task when you’ve been sat on a bike all day and are busting for the loo! If you’re likely to be wearing your base layers for long periods, opting for a two-piece prevents any dramas when you feel the urge.
- Material: Choose a base layer constructed from man-made fibres. This ensures the fabric is thermal and traps heat, but breathable at the same time. Winter base layers should have moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry and be windproof to keep the chill off.
- Seams: As the name suggests, base layers are right up against your skin, so you need to make sure any seams are flat or better still, the garment is seamless. Base layers are designed to be skin tight, and chaffing can become a real issue if you’re not careful.
- Comfort fit: Choose a base layer which is skin tight but designed with your body shape in mind. A lot of new base layers have specially added panels which cool the warmest areas of your body and pre-curved shapes to prevent muscle fatigue.