According to the National Weather Service’s windchill calculator, at an ambient temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit and a wind (or vehicle) speed of 65 mph, the windchill temperature is a teeth-chattering, hypothermia-inducing 32 degrees F. There are many ways to keep Jack Frost at bay when riding on cold days, but a smart, tried-and-true strategy is layered clothing because the air trapped between layers provides additional thermal insulation.
Cycle Gear’s Freeze-Out thermal base layers have a brushed polyester thermal interior that is very soft, similar to microfleece, and wicks moisture away from the body. Every Freeze-Out garment has a wind-blocking outer layer, but that layer doesn’t cover the entire garment so cool air passes through the areas that are unprotected. For example, on the long johns, the windproof layer covers the hips, front of the thighs and knee, but not the crotch, seat or lower legs. (In the photos, the grayish, speckled areas are the windproof layers and the all-black areas are not windproof.)
A dizzingly long list of Freeze-Out garments can be mixed and matched to cover everything but your eyes, including one-piece body suits, long-sleeve and short-sleeve pull-over shirts, zipped gilets (long-sleeve shirts with removable sleeves), long johns (pants with stirrups), glove liners, helmet liners, boot liners, knee warmers, elbow warmers, neck wraps, face masks and a balaclava. What I tested was befitting a ninja: a balaclava covered my head and neck (MSRP $29.99); a long-sleeve shirt covered my torso and arms ($59.99); glove liners covered my hands ($39.99); long johns covered my lower body ($59.99); and boot liners covered my feet ($29.99). Total retail cost of the set is $219.95, but, since spring is just around the corner, Cycle Gear has its Freeze-Out garments on sale at 58-83 percent below MSRP.
Everything fit me well and the flat-lock seams help keep the garments thin. Except for the glove liners, which are made of a thinner, more elastic material, none of the garments are very stretchy, so choose sizes that will fit loosely enough to allow plenty of movement without being baggy. The glove liners are thin enough to fit under most motorcycle gloves without impeding movement, but they are too thin to provide much warmth out on the road. All of the other layers are thicker, so if your helmet or boots are especially snug, the additional layer of the balaclava and/or boot liners (which I wore over wool socks) may be uncomfortably tight; I didn’t have a problem with either. Freeze-Out base layers certainly help knock the chill off, but on the coldest days additional layers and/or heated grips/liners were needed to stay warm.
All of the items tested are well-made and can be freshened up in the washer and dryer. My only complaint, other than the lack of full windproofness, is that the neck opening on the long sleeve shirt is too large. There is a 6-inch zippered opening on the left side to make it easy to pull on and off, but even when zipped up the collar doesn’t seal around my neck. Unless I’m wearing the balaclava and have its neck covering tucked inside the shirt’s collar, too much wind gets in.
Cycle Gear’s Freeze-Out garments are available in men’s and women’s sizes. They’re reasonably priced (especially when on sale) and they come in handy any time it’s cold outside, not just when riding; I’ve worn them while camping and hiking too. Although we haven’t tested them yet, the company also makes Heat-Out base layers that are designed to keep you cool in hot weather.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: See your nearest Cycle Gear location or visit cyclegear.com