A long time ago, in a universe far, far away, I had a ridiculous commute.

We’re talking 2.5 hours. Each way. 5 days a week. Because I am clearly bananas.

Nicolas Cage making crazy eyes

I had no one to blame but myself for that madness, of course. Still, it was what I had to do at the time.

As anyone who has ever parked at any time in the city of Chicago can tell you, two wheels are MUCH easier to park than four.


Moto sidecars racing across a wintry wasteland

No, I didn’t get a sidecar. In fact, on days that featured snow and ice, I did my commute by car (a MkIII GTI VR6, if you must know). It was much harder to park than my bike, but I managed.

On days where it was merely cold, though, I still rode. Not because I’m particularly stoic, or am actually named Victor Fries.


If you live somewhere that has winter and you want to spend as much of your year on two wheels as possible, you have two distinct problems to address:

  • Storage space
  • Heat

Let’s tackle these problems one at a time, shall we?


The Kymco Nikita 200, which we don't get here

You could get yourself a maxi scooter. Hear me out.

Is it the most fun thing in the world to ride? No.

Is it the most practical commuter bike you’ll ever have? Emphatically, yes.

Gallons of storage space (I regularly do grocery shopping on mine), ridiculously good gas mileage, comfy seat and riding position…the list goes on. This is a perfect metropolitan commuting machine.

Is it cool? No. If that’s your main concern, though, you probably aren’t interested in commuting in the winter anyway. Traditional motorcycles have storage options too, but you probably won’t get great gas mileage. Your choice.


Kumamon warming up over a hot wok

Good news! You don’t need a plush bear mascot costume OR a flaming hot wok to keep warm in the winter!

All you need is a good heated gear setup. (Emphasis on “good,” because there’s a lot of crap out there.)

Mine is a wired setup, and is made by Gerbing. (Neither money nor product has exchanged hands for me to write this; I’ve simply purchased and used their stuff since 2006 and couldn’t be happier.)

How does it work, you ask? An electrical connector attaches to my scoot’s battery, and the wires pass under some plastic body panels. The heat controller is mounted near the base of my seat. When it’s cold, I simply plug it into my heated jacket liner. My thick, insulated (and heated) gloves plug into the jacket liner as well, and all draw power from my bike’s battery.

Now, my scoot blocks a ton of wind, so I don’t find it necessary to have heated pants or socks. I simply layer up on my bottom half and I stay quite toasty. You may feel differently, and there are plenty of additional heated gear pieces you can add to your setup if you’re extra cold.

Also: I’m here to tell you that a good pair of heated gloves > heated grips any day.

Let’s face it: We can’t all be canyon-carving all the time. But can we make our work weeks just a little bit better (even if we live somewhere that gets incredibly cold)?

We absolutely can. Maybe that practicality is the key to getting newer, younger two-wheeled enthusiasts into the game.

Congested metropolitan areas aren’t getting any less crowded. If you want to go where you want when you want AND take stuff with you, moto commuting is a pretty good option.

Do you commute on a bike in the winter? What are some of your strategies for coping with the weather? Let me know in the comments!

1 Comment

The Moto Commuting Handbook Infographic: Solving Your Weather-Related Riding Dilemmas | welcome to the janniverse. · November 1, 2017 at 1:39 pm

[…] It’s a fool’s game to compare yourself to other riders. But I’d like to think I’ve gathered some experiential knowledge that can help anyone new who wants to start commuting on two wheels attached to an engine. I’ve talked before about how much better your life is with balaclavas, as well as why heated gear is a must if you ride someplace with winter. […]

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