Best motorcycle base layers and thermals

Staying warm whilst on your bike is essential. You can do that with the best motorcycle thermals and base layers. Being cold can be tiring and distracting, which is two things you don’t want to about when concentrating on riding in tricky conditions. good set of base layers or thermals is a must in winter.

Keeping warm is a case of layering. A winterproof jacket and trousers may be perfect for blocking out wind and rain, but it’s essential to build a strong foundation by starting with a thermal base layer.

We recommend buying thermals that offer a close, snug fit as this will help trap warm air against the skin – keeping you warm in the wintery months.

The best motorcycle thermals and base layers

In addition, look for thermal and base layers that are breathable and wick away moisture easily. There’s no point putting on a waterproof shell if you’re going to get wet from the inside out due to sweat. Summer base layers that work like this are great in the heat, too, especially under leathers.

Our Black Friday and clearance deal top picks

20% off Oxford Warm Dry – Long Sleeved Top – was £34.99, now £27.94

25% off Oxford Warm Dry – Trousers – was £34.99, now £26.24

25% off Oxford Cool Dry – Long Sleeved Top – was £34.99, now £26.24

25% off Oxford Cool Dry – Trousers – was £34.99, now £26.24

22% off DANISH ENDURANCE Outdoor Walking Thermal Socks – was £44.95, now £34.95

30% off Buff Unisex Neckwear Thermonet ThermoNet® Neckwear – was £20.95, now £14.71

Best for extreme cold

The X99 Electric Heated Vest features five heated areas to keep you warm and the ability to plug into a USB power bank or even a USB socket on the bike. Quoted as pumping out 43°C to 65°C in three steps, and it is machine washable.

Editor's Pick - We've tested this product and would spend our own money on it.

Pros

  • Can plug into the bike
  • Heated up to 65°C

Cons

  • Just heats your body

Best thermal pants

Price: £31.99 (was £39.99)

www.sportsbikeshop.co.uk

Tornado Advance 2 is a range that keeps the wind out and has thermal properties, the perfect combination as a mid-layer without having to wear bulky garments.

Tested by Dan Sutherland for one month, 700 miles. Quality 5/5 Value 4/5: "As someone who rides all year round as a commuter and for fun, quality base layers are incredibly important. Not only to keep me warm when the temperature dips into single digits but also to keep me comfortable and focused on the task at hand. Having tackled the bitter English winter on two wheels for the past 11 years on various machines, I've sampled my fair share of layers, and although I've only been using these Tornado 2 pants for around a month, they are fast becoming my go-to favourites."

"In my time with these under trousers, the weather has ranged from beautiful 20-degree sunshine to biting cold winds and heavy snow. Deciding what to wear has been a biker's nightmare, but I have always made sure to have my trusty Tornado 2s underneath. Forcefield claims this product enjoys windproof, thermal, anti-bacterial, and fast-drying properties. They also say they are lightweight and have a water-resistant rating of 8000mm. Although I'm yet to test their water resistance, having only worn them under textile trousers on wet days, I'm inclined to believe all of the brand's claims."

"Once on, I don't notice they're there, and they've provided an instant warming hug on the chilly morning commutes to the office. Once there, I've also left them on under my normal trousers, and they've been totally fine – only getting slightly warm if I venture out for a brisk lunchtime walk. It might sound odd, but I also really like the colours, and it's nice to see underlayers that aren't a single, dark-block colour. They also tuck nicely in the legs of my leathers and under armoured jeans – meaning I can hop out of bulky textiles on cool days without having chilly pins. How they will fare as the temperature climbs remains to be seen."

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Warm
  • Antibacterial
  • Extra layer at the knee

Cons

  • Only for cold weather

Best heated jacket

Price: £119.99 (was £199.99)

www.sportsbikeshop.co.uk

Gerbing have recently given their flagship product a complete redesign, offering a better fit and increased heat distribution. In addition to the front and back, there are heating elements in the collar and sleeves to ensure it's not just your torso that stays toasty. There are plugs to attach heated gloves and trousers (or socks), plus it's water-repellent and windproof, giving you an extra layer of protection from the elements.

Pros

  • Heated
  • Can be plugged into gloves and trousers

Cons

  • Slightly bulkier than a standard base layer

Best base layer top

Price: £85.49 (was £86.99)

www.sportsbikeshop.co.uk

Ride Tech performance underwear is developed for core temperature regulation. The dual-density layers provide extra moisture-wicking to keep the body comfortable. It's also made from a fabric that won't melt in a slide down the road.

Pros

  • Moisture wicking
  • Long sleeves
  • High neck

Cons

  • Only for winter

Best for gloves

These heated inner gloves sit nicely beneath your favourite bike gloves. They can be powered using your motorcycle's battery or via an optional rechargeable Li-ion battery pack. Alternatively, they can also be connected easily to the Keis X10 heated body warmer easily via its additional power sockets. Perfect accessories for keeping your hands toasty this winter.

Pros

  • Turn any glove into a heated version
  • Can be hardwired or battery powered

Cons

  • You need room in your gloves for them to fit

Best value

Price: £24.99 (top) £19.99 (pants)

oxfordriderwear.com

These base layers from British kit giant Oxford Products seemed to sneak onto the market like a pair of ninja pyjamas which, by strange coincidence, is exactly what they look like. These are all-year-round base layers that will work for any ride and under any clothing.


Read our full Oxford Advanced base layers review

Pros

  • Great price
  • Simple design

Cons

  • Low-tech

Best balaclava

Perfect for winter motorcycling, the MotoGP balaclava is a snug, super-comfort fit that will help keep your head and face warm whilst on the road in cold conditions. This thermal balaclava is made from 100% cotton and, in terms of quality, is unbeatable value for the price. Great for affordable winter riding.

Pros

  • Better coverage than a neck tube
  • 100% Cotton

Cons

  • Need room under your helmet for it to fit

Things to consider

The first thing a base layer or thermal has to do is fit underneath your kit. This isn’t generally a problem with winter kit, which tends to be looser fitting, but if you want to put thermals under your leathers, then you need to make sure they will fit.

Heated kit is a great option for deep winter riding, but you need to consider your use case. If you commute to an office within one charge from home and you can charge batteries at work, then that’s an option, but for longer rides or tours, wiring the kit in makes sense.

One disadvantage of heated kit is that if it stops working for any reason, you will be left exposed, so many riders prefer to layer up a non-heated kit instead. A base layer combined with a mid layer under decent winter kit should be enough for most riding conditions.

About the author: After qualifying as a mechanical engineer, Jim began working on magazines in the early 1990s. He remains passionate about product testing to ensure readers know what products offer good value and why. He relishes torrential rain to see if riding kit keeps water out and an hour or two to tinker on a project bike in his workshop.

- Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.