How About Air-Conditioned Clothes for Motorcyclists?

Rider in hot summer weather 1 photo
The world is getting more and more technology by the day, and the motorcycling world makes no exception. We have witnessed how much bikes changed during the last three decades (or even less), and the dawn of a new era in riding gear is imminent, too.
Even though many consider that nothing beats the good old leathers, new, high-tech materials are making a change for the better. Cordura, Kevlar woven textiles, carbon fiber threads making fabrics stronger and D3O armor are probably the most popular new materials that made it into the riding gear segment. Still, there's so much more to this...

The next big thing is obviously the rider airbag, probably the biggest upgrade to riding gear in the last 50 years or so. With Dainese and Alpinestars spearheading the technological advances in the industry, airbag riding clothes are becoming increasingly popular and the prices start to slowly become lower.

With the biggest manufacturer, Dainese, announcing a licensing program it's game on in this field. Whether talking about bike-specific systems such as the D|Air for the Ducati Multistrada or bike-independent ones, rider airbags ARE going to become standard in the not-so-distant future.

Despite all these technologies, heat remains a problem

No matter how advanced the materials used for making riding gear are, they are so far unable to solve all the problems. I remember what an old rider once told me, describing how riding was back in the ‘50s.

"A serious motorcycle rider," he said, "one that rides long and far, is never dry. He will be either soaked by rain and drizzle or swimming in his leathers in his own sweat." Funny thing, he was spot-on, give or take.

One could choose to wear a mesh armor or mesh jacket in the city, but for the longer hauls, serious riding gear is a must. The problem is that good protection in times of need means covering the body with some sort of barrier against impact and road rash, and this means heat build-up.

Most jackets are equipped with zippered vents, but sometimes they aren't able to offer enough ventilation. Creating a massive stream of air to wick away moisture and heat usually involves unzipping the front of the jacket, which creates drag and can potentially hinder movement.

A Japanese company invented an air-conditioned jacket, though for office use. The idea behind the whole thing is very simple, as the manufacturer added two small electric-powered fans in the fabric, and they blow air into the jacket.

Air escapes through the collar and sleeves, eliminating body heat and excessive moisture, helping office workers maintain a constant heat and prevent the unpleasant effects of sweating.

If you ask us, the design of the jacket is rather on the atrocious side, but for what it's worth, the purpose defeats the looks. Kuchofuku, Japanese for air-conditioned garments is a high-demand product, and the company making these clothes can barely keep up with the orders.

No matter how silly these work jackets may look, it's their functionality that may bring another twist to the riding gear industry.

Motorcycle clothing with such air-conditioning could be an interesting addition to the industry, even though in its current shape, Kuchofuku might not be exactly the best choice.

Riding with two such ventilators attached to the jacket is definitely a hazard when the going gets tough. But integrating air-conditioning with motorcycle clothing doesn't necessarily have to involve 5" (13cm) fans like those cooling a computer case.

Smaller ones with different working principles could, however, represent a viable, more practical solution. Micro-Dyson bladeless turbines are probably the first thing that comes to mind now, but engineers and inventors can surely come up with other ideas.

Even more, the whole air-conditioning "paradigm" could be reset once more riding gear manufacturers consider this feature as being important.

The lack of comfort sort reduces the joy of riding in certain cases

The truth is that riding in the summer heat could become a less punishing experience. No matter how good we feel when on two wheels and heading towards the next destination, things can be even better when traveling in hot weather.

Better ventilation in leathers would also eliminate the safety compromise most of us do in such scenarios. The dehydration because of excessive sweating would also be reduced, and this is one of the strong points advocating such garments.

We covered the dangers of dehydration when riding a motorcycle in an ample material (How to Beat the Heat 1 and How to Beat the Heat 2). Since summer in the northern hemisphere is only going to get hotter, the How to Beat the Heat guides are also a good, informative reading for the season.

Being able to wear riding gear with high protection factor without "melting" under the summer sun would increase both the riders' safety level and their comfort, possibly drawing more people to the motorcycle world. It may sound a bit weird but we actually met people who said that they are not riding bikes because they would sweat wearing leathers and are not at all fond of this. Air-conditioned clothing could mean a dramatic improvement in this case.

The rechargeable batteries needed to power the rider AC systems are already here, as the energy storage technology is constantly improving. These cells could even be recharged on the bike and swapping the depleted ones on the go could provide cooling for the entire day so this problem is already a non-issue.

All in all, this idea is definitely feasible, and we won't be surprised when the first motorcycle jackets with air conditioning surface. Of course, this may very well never happen, but almost all the great steps in modern progress began with a "what if", isn't it?
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