How to Keep Warm on a Motorbike in Canberra?

Hey everyone,

Not sure if this belongs here.

I'm on my 3rd month of my learners and I'm really enjoying riding but it's really starting to get cold here in Canberra.

I wear standard jeans with some Kathmandu thermals under them, my jacket with the same thermals, usually a T-shirt as well, gloves etc. No of which are winter specific. By the time I get to work, I'm frozen and it's only going to get worse.

There are motorbike specific "thermals" which are reasonably priced. Does anyone have any experience with these? Would it be better to buy Skin's thermals?

I have been looking at heated hand grips but don't really want to modify my bike. Are winter gloves decent? Are they so thick you have no dexterity left?

Any recommendations for how to stay warm in winter would be appreciated.


  • +3 votes

    I ride in CBR. No "winter rated" glove or liner has ever made a difference. Just grab the thinnest ski gloves you can get from Anaconda or HCF (look for 3M Thinsulate) - sorted.

    • +7 votes

      I also ride in Canberra and despite wearing Winter rated gloves, my hands are numb after about 15minutes of riding in the dead of winter.
      I bought those little pocket warmers from Kathmandu and was able to shove those in to the top of my gloves in the morning. Heated hand grips are probably the best option.

      But really, you should be riding with pants designed for riding, not standard jeans. Your legs will get ripped up if you come off. Proper pants also can come with a wind blocking layer which will keep you warmer.


        I ordered some Bull-it motorbike jeans from MCA but they were the wrong size. They have some Kinda covec material woven into them. It not Kevlar and it's not an aramid Fiber. Apparently its better. They also have knee pad inserts.

        Pocket warmers are a good idea. You can get those reusable ones that you click the little metal button.

        • to this. I am all for ATGATT and never venture out without my riding pants - they are one of those cordura jobs and comes with a removable quilt liner. Same with jacket - comes with a removable liner.

        Also for hands - remember that the heated grips only warm the palm. The top of your hand will still get blasted by the cold wind. I usually wear some thin gloves under my motorcycle gloves. Not very comfortable though. Of course I am in Melbourne and despite my whinging is not as cold as Canberra.


      Would they provide any protection if I feel off?

  • +2 votes

    As you're already wearing thermals, best advise I can give is layers. The more layers you have, the better chance you won't get cold.

    Obviously this causes you to be the Stay Puff marshmallow man, but about the only advice I can give.

  • +2 votes

    face neck warmer, something like this
    I wore one (same brand, different model) with a normally breezy MX helmet and it made a big difference
    SA winter before sunrise would normally be 10 degrees for reference

    as for gloves, test fitting in store is recommended to find the right balance between warmth and movement.

    do you have hand guards? they will deflect the wind, reducing the need for extra thick gloves

  • +1 vote

    Thermals are thermals. A good quality all-weather motorbike jacket with an inner liner would be my main suggestion, if you don't already have one. That, and no gaps between boots to pants to jacket to gloves.

    • +5 votes

      Thermals work by trapping the warm air to your skin.
      The wind on a bike blows that air layer away.
      You need a wind resistant layer and proper protection from falls that proper bike pants and jacket provide.


        I think I need a shell layer. My jacket keeps a little bit of it out but I can feel it coming in a few places. Do leathers keep you warm ?

  • +7 votes

    This will save your hands: go to the Aldi ski sale and get several pairs of merino glove liners. They are very thin and won't bulk up your hands so much that you can't get your gloves on. As it gets colder you can put more pairs on over the top of each other under your normal gloves.

    You can also get hand protectors, they are plastic shields that attach to your handlebars and stop the wind hitting your hands directly, which is what really kills them. You cam also get handgrip warmers, have never tried them myself but I don't think they would be worth the expense (the wind would still be hitting the outside of your hands, killing them).

    I used to ride in Canberra, and I could take care of my body fine (just lots of layers of thermals, merino cardigans, jumpers, scarf/neck circle thing, balaclava, etc) but my hands always KILLED. The first five to ten minutes of highway speed would be fine, then they would start to hurt, then they would hurt more, then they would be this weird combo of hurt and be numb, then they would start BURNING with the intensity rising the longer I went. I couldn't even go inside the house right away as the sudden warmth would make them hurt intensely in a different way, I had to hang out outside with my gloved hands between my legs while I waited for them to adjust to being just "cold" instead of frozen. I could delay the pain a little by constantly wriggling my fingers up and down, or tucking them under my palm so I was just leaning on the handlebars and not gripping, but never stopped it from happening. Once I got some merino glove liners from the Aldi sale though I was fine!! Take my lesson and get some this year, line up outside Aldi an hour before they open so you can make sure you get them and not miss out the first two years you are riding like I did.

    Edit: also yes you need to get some proper motorcycle pants - they will save your legs in the event of a crash and are tightly woven enough / waterproof to keep the wind out. Kevlar jeans are probably fine in the summer and if you don't go highway speeds but winter and/or highway speeds get the proper gear. there's lots of pants that go over your regular pants so you can take them off when you get to work and have your normal work pants on (I used to tuck my dress into the pants and whip them off when I got to work).

    • +6 votes

      I remember the first time I thought running my hands under a tap would be a good idea to warm them up. If a scimitar-wielding genie had popped up at that moment and said "want me to cut those off for you?" I'd have said yes

    • +1 vote

      This is a fantastic post. Lots of good information. Here I was thinking I was going to save money riding a motorbike…..Looks like proper pants here I come.

      • +1 vote

        Something else to watch out for - if you've been riding in the rain a long time like 1 hour+, somehow your jacket makes a little tunnel for icy cold water to pour right into your crotch. Not fun. I don't know the physics of it. I solved it by having a friend sew me a long pvc skirt with an elastic top that I would put around my armpits under my jacket and it would stick out over my knees. Made having a coffee break on long ride bit more bearable and pleasant when you weren't soaked right through lol


    I no longer ride, however if these were around when I did I would try these out -

  • +2 votes

    The leather jacket and scarf (and leather gloves) was good enough for me most of the time in the Melbourne winter. Like Quantumcat mentioned, the wind is the killer and the leather seems to stop that.

    I used to wear Draggin cargo pants and I've got to say that once I hit the freeway, the "shrinkage" is real! LMAO!

    Also, I didn't realise so many fellow OzB people ride (I don't anymore though - the weather in Melbourne is too inconsistent, so after my bike mysteriously disappeared, I decided to stick to a four-wheeler).

  • +2 votes

    It’s a while since I rode a moto, but it’s about keeping your core warm and keeping the wind off. Use whatever you can to keep the wind out, that means leather, vinyl etc not fabric. Then thermals etc.

  • +1 vote

    I'm in Melbourne, doesn't get as cold as Canberra, but i have done plenty of riding in alpine conditions. I don't really feel the cold on the bike.. so i'll share my setup.
    My setup seems very basic, you could definitely go a lot harder than what I go..

    Hands - definitely the coldest part of my body, but still not bad. I've got some cheapie thick gloves, these could definitely be better. Main difference is the fact that I have barkbusters. My last bike didnt have barkbusters, but it did have oxford heated grips. These work great, I have tried aftermarket heated grips, they just dont work as well as the oxford ones. Would definitely recommend oxford heated grips. If your bike would suit barkbusters, i'd also recommend them.

    Body - I dont ever get cold, even when im only wearing a t-shirt underneath.
    This isnt what I have, but its similar. I paid about $300. It has the outer layer, a waterproof layer, then a warm layer.

    Head/neck - balaclava every day of the week. If you dont have one, get one.

    Bottoms - moto boots and moto pants. I used to wear jeans + thermals when i had a short commute, that was much colder than moto pants + boots with no thermals. (something similar to this)

    It's also good to note that I have a DR650 now, which is quite exposed to the wind. I used to have a DL650 with a windscreen, could ride naked on that thing and not feel the wind chill - so if there is any opportunity for a larger windscreen, this would also help.


    Invest in quality motorbike goretex gear (brands like Alpinestars or Dainese I've found to be good) - jacket, pants, gloves and boots, add in a balaclava, thermal longsleeve shirt and pants and you'll always be warm and dry. It'll be expensive but should last you a long time, especially if you plan on riding a long time.

    some examples


      I have the Gaerne G.Aspen Goretex Black Boots they are fantastic!


    Never found brilliant waterproof gloves in 20yrs no matter how much I spent (helped working in a bike shop :) ). Mates tried rubber gloves inside my riding gloves, make a difference but to me I lost lot of feel of controls.

    Plastic bags on your feet between socks and boots… works fairly well - not bulletproof, but makes a difference. But the rest of you will freeze.

    Doing Sydney - Melbourne back in 90's I had temp of close to -2 + wind chill coming through Yass on Hume once so cold i couldnt get my fingers to straighten when I stopped at the servo. Sometimes you have to admit defeat and get a room for the night

  • +1 vote

    Commuted in Sydney for 3 years on 7.00am starts.

    For legs I used a military padded overpants (possibly Korean war surplus) and rain paints.

    Face was a thin merino wool balaclava and the underchin and nose wind blocker on the helmet.

    Winter gloves with 3M Thinsulate and (possibly) glove liners.

    This was on a BMW R800 airhead with a bikini fairing so feet were toasty warm and some air deflection off the torso.

    The Uber Eats riders around here use hand lever mittens. They might help but you need to know where the controls are

  • +1 vote

    Heated grips. You'll never look back.


      I'm lucky enough to have a bike with heated grips as standard. Wow, what a difference that makes!

      When your hands get really cold, it affects how quickly you can operate the brake, clutch, etc. so keeping your hands warm is more than just a comfort thing.

      There are many other good suggestions here already. Good quality gear is a must and a balaclava definitely helps too. Good luck!

  • +4 votes

    it's really starting to get cold here in Canberra

    You aint seen nothing yet.

  • +1 vote

    Get a car?

  • +1 vote

    This is your best solution for winter biking

  • +1 vote

    A scarf that blocks the airflow at your neck down your jacket does wonders for me. Sports bike position.


      Second this. I use a stretchy polar-fleece style ‘tube scarf’ I bought on eBay. Shaped like a boob-tube … I pull it on over my head to sit around neck. When it’s extra cold I pull it up over my chin and nose, otherwise it sits down just around my neck. It’s easier to manage than a wrap-around style scarf.


    My brother has Raynaud's syndrome and he was using one of these gloves to keep his fingers warm

    Also Zarkie has a decent collection of warm clothing and if you are not happy with the product, they will refund you

    I had a 450gsm Kevlar jeans from finnmoto which was quite heavy but managed to keep me really warm

  • +1 vote

    Talking from 20 years rising experience in Canberra…

    Probs the best thing about Canberra winter is that it rarely rains.

    Advice below is in the context of a - 10 degree morning commute. Most of the time you won't need this much stuff.

    1. Good winter jacket and neck warmer.
    2. Kevlar jeans
    3. Base layer - merino undershirt and long Johns
    4. Bike - specific gloves. Ski gloves won't cut it if you find yourself sliding down the butumen
    5. Heated grips
    6. Hand guards. Seriously, look at the bark buster vps. Keeping the wind chill if the backs of your fingers is CRUCIAL. You can get away without the heated grips, or without the bug bulky gloves (but not both) if you have these.

    Honestly, it's the finger warmth that gets your attention. You haven't lived until you've PRAYED for a red light just so you can put your frozen, aching hands on the engine for a couple of blissful seconds.


    Wind is the killer of course when you ride .. so get a scooter from Motorini which will shield your legs and often have hand shields as well. Perfect cheap and fun transport in Canberra with all the 80 zones and no steep hills . I rode an XJ900 for years but was super impressed by the functionality, convenience and economy, not to mention joy of scooters!!!


    Heated jacket or hoodie. Like wearing an electric blanket.


    It's the wind, when I used to live in a high altitude climate the only thing that worked with the wind chill was windproof pants under bike jeans, leather gp boots, textile bike jacket (leather jackets always seem to leave gaps), neck gaitor, balaclava, windproof gloves with thinsulate. Hand guards really help as do heated grips.
    I'd ride the cold rather than the rain, that's a different problem.

  • +1 vote

    What about wind guards for your hands and stop the wind chill factor


    dont forget to check the US for winter gear, they will be on close out since they are coming into summer