Summer Motorcycle Base Layers: 7 To Keep You Cool On Tour

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I don’t know which is more uncomfortable – freezing in the middle of January or boiling in the middle of July.

But what I do know is that being either is a nightmare when I’m touring on my motorbike!

Of course, there’s nothing worse than being cold, wet, hungry, and unable to feel your fingers and toes.

Your shivering makes your muscles ache. And the less said about biting your cheek with your own chattering teeth, the better.

But when you’re meandering through the mountains in 40-degree heat and you’re sweating through your motorcycle jacket, that ain’t much fun either.

So what should we do? Well, we do the same as we do in winter by wearing the correct gear.

summer motorcycle base layers
It’s not all about being cold! (Image via AlpineStars)

What Do Bikers Wear In The Summer?

If you’ve ever ridden in summer, you’ll know the answer to this question is a broad as the gear that’s available.

But whether you’re riding in the foothills of a mountain range or the sloping dunes of a desert, the answer always starts with layers.

Of course, we have summer jackets and pants these days which make our lives more comfortable. But what about beneath those?

We need something to wick away moisture. Moreover, we need something to keep us dry, keep us comfortable, and prevent our skin from chaffing on the fabric of our gear.

So what do we turn to for such a tall order? We start with summer motorcycle base layers!

Trending: Why HIKING Gear Is Better Than MOTORCYCLE Gear!

dainese summer clothing
Summer motorcycle base layers are essential for keeping cool, dry, and comfortable. (Image via Dainese)

What Are Base Layers?

Summer motorcycle base layers are the very first items of clothing that you put on when you get out of the shower.

They are the only part of your motorcycle gear that should be touching your skin. Everything else (jacket, pants, t-shirts etc) go on after your base layers.

And we shouldn’t overlook summer motorcycle base layers. Because through the use of technical fabrics, the design of these base layers regulates body temperature to keep us cool and comfortable.

In hot climates, summer motorcycle base layers shift moisture (sweat) away from the skin to keep us cool. As the moisture evaporates, it keeps skin dry and prevents irritation.

Ultimately, base layers help us to regulate our temperature. And if we can do that, we can stay comfortable in every sense of the word.

women's summer motorcycle base layers
Summer motorcycle base layers help us regulate heat (Image via Omo)

Are Thermals And Base Layers The Same?

Yes and no.

Both are the same in that they act as your second skin; they are the barrier between your skin and your clothing.

The biggest difference is in the properties and the fabrics.

Both are designed to wick moisture away from the skin.

Thermals are specifically designed to keep you warm in colder conditions. And the materials used reflect this.

Summer base layers are not designed to keep you warm at all. Their sole purpose is to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable by removing moisture.

Related: And The Best Waterproof Motorcycle Jacket Is…

merino underwear
Merino wool is commonplace in thermals

Should I Wear A Base Layer In Summer?


For a start, summer motorcycle base layers do a fantastic job of keeping you dry. And by keeping you dry, they keep you cool and comfortable.

Have you ever been riding through a city in the height of summer? By the time you get to your location, your cotton t-shirt is soaked through with sweat, right?

Base layers aid in the evaporation of this moisture – keeping you cool and dry. As well as this, they keep you feeling comfortable and usually remove odour which maintains a feeling of freshness.

Apart from the biological benefits, summer motorcycle base layers are lightweight and compact. As they wick away moisture, they don’t hold odour which means you can wear them for a few days at a time.

And even when they need washing, they dry in a matter of minutes or hours.

This means you only ever need three tops when travelling as appose to a large array of cotton t-shirts that need changing and washing.

So with this in mind, which should you buy?

Well, start with these!

technical motorcycle summer base layers
Summer motorcycle base layers are lightweight, compact, and quick to wash

Multi-Genre Summer Motorcycle Base Layers

As well as a motorcyclist, I am also a photographer, runner, hiker, cyclist, and gym-goer.

And I firmly believe that the technical clothes I own from these hobbies are significantly superior to most motorcycle-specific clothing.

Not only are they more technical, but they are lighter, more compact, cheaper, and more efficient.

Whilst some of the products below are made from dedicated motorcycle clothing manufacturers, many of them come from the world of hiking, cycling, and running.

But don’t let that put you off!

Related: Top 5 Textile Motorcycle Jackets For Under £300

layering systems - cycling
Summer motorcycle base layers can also be from other sports, such as running, hiking, or cycling. (Image via AlpKit)

1. Halvarssons Mesh Summer Motorcycle Base Layers

  • Genre: Motorcycling
  • Price: £24
  • M/F: Only available in men’s

We really like this simple product from Halvarssons.

Sure, there are more technical layers out there – and they come with a more technical price tag, too!

But for the price, this mesh sweater is great for motorcycle touring.

Made from stretchable polyester and spandex, this top is fitted yet flexible, and is designed to wick away moisture.

Working perfectly underneath textiles or leathers, it’s close-fitting, quick-drying, and comfortable.

Pants are also available.

 Halvarssons Mesh Sweater - summer motorcycle base layers
Halvarssons produce affordable summer motorcycle base layers (Image via Halvarssons)

2. dhb Lightweight Mesh Base Layer

  • Genre: Cycling
  • Price: £30
  • M/F: Available in women’s and men’s

This highly technical base layer from dhb is ultralightweight and designed for cyclists.

Constructed from a closed structure fabric, this breathable layer promotes rapid moisture wicking whilst allowing airflow and ventilation.

Cleverly, it traps a thin layer of air between your skin and the fabric – which it then regulates to keep you cool.

And moisture is then spread through the garment where it evaporates to leave you feeling cooler and fresher.

The performance fit is naturally contoured, yet isn’t restrictive. And dhb have done a wonderful job of minimising seams and stitching.

Available in short-sleeve, long-sleeve, sleeveless, and various colours.

 dhb Lightweight Mesh
dnb’s lightweight summer motorcycle base layers come in a range of styles (Image via dnb)

3. Vaude Sveit T-Shirt

  • Genre: Hiking
  • Price: £40
  • M/F: Women’s merino range available

If you want something that works but looks like a regular t-shirt, then you can’t go wrong with this fast-drying Drirelease t-shirt from Vaude.

It’s comfortable against the skin (despite having seams), fits well, and wicks away moisture.

As expected, it does a good job of staving off odour. But it’s also environmentally friendly having been made from sustainable materials under fair working conditions.

Made for mountain activities and outdoor adventures, it’s durable and strong. Yet it’s perfectly acceptable for evening wear when going for dinner.

It’s a great, ethical all-rounder.

Available in a range of colours.

Vaude Sveit T-Shirt - summer motorcycle base layers
Vaude Sveit t-shirts look like regular t-shirts, but they are technical and environmentally friendly (Image via Vaude)

4. Dainese D-Core Aero Summer Motorcycle Base Layer Tee

  • Genre: Motorcycling
  • Price: £65
  • M/F: Available in women’s and men’s

The D-Core Aero top from Dainese is a technical base layer designed for hot climates. With active moisture management, this tee is designed specifically to keep the upper body dry in all conditions.

Its press structure construction optimises muscle compression (like runner’s tights) to prevent fatigue. And the seamless build ensures all-day comfort without chaffing or rubbing.

As well as the active moisture management technology, armour padding can be found at contact points for extra comfort and protection.

Also available as a one-piece suit.

dainese d core aero
Technical summer motorcycle base layers by Dainese (Image via Dainese)

5. Assos Assosoires Summer SS Skin Layer (Long-Sleeve)

  • Genre: Cycling
  • Price: £65
  • M/F: Available in women’s and men’s

What we love about this base layer by Assos is its focus on not being noticeable. Built for cyclists, it has an enhanced level of moisture control whilst being almost weightless.

Assos have concentrated on fitting and comfort, too. This new version of the top is not only 25% lighter than the older version, but it also features zero seams for added comfort.

With excellent antibacterial properties, the Summer SS Skin Layer keeps you dry and fresh even in the hottest and sweatiest of conditions.

A very good, breathable, sweat-wicking top!

Available in various colours and styles. Shorts also available.

 Assos Assosoires Summer SS Skin Layer - summer motorcycle base layers
Assos Assosoires produce ultralight layers ideal to use as summer motorcycle base layers (Image via Assos Assosoires)

6. Proskins Summer Motorcycle Base Layers (Long-Sleeve)

  • Genre: Gym /  Active Wear
  • Price: £15
  • M/F: Available in women’s and men’s

Once again, this isn’t the most technical layer on the market. But for an all-day cheapy that is comfortable and quickly washable, it’s perfect for touring.

The fabric is close-fitting and features 3D body mapping technology to mould to your body ensuring the most comfortable fit.

Its stretch fibre yarns allow flexibility and manoeuvrability on the bike. And the moisture management system keeps you dry when the mercury starts to rise.

Various styles, t-shirts, and pants are also available.

proskins activewear
Proskins summer motorcycle base layers. (Image via Proskins)

7. Summer RST Base Layer – Summer (T-Shirt)

  • Genre: Motorcycling
  • Price: £32
  • M/F: Only available in men’s

The RST Tech-X Coolmax top is a moisture-wicking and temperature-regulating base layer.

Its compression moulds to the body for a seamless fit ensuring flexibility and comfort. It also compresses around the muscles minimising fatigue.

Marketed as a 3-season base layer, we recommend it for summer riding as it lacks thermal qualities for colder conditions.

It isn’t available in women’s, but it is available in long-sleeve varieties. Pants are also available.

rst summer motorcyce base layers
Simple base layer by RST (Image via RST)

Are Base Layers Worth It?

Yes, 100% worth it.

As a runner, cyclist, motorcyclist, and hiker, base layers have become so useful that I wear them almost exclusively.

Their fitting ensures they are comfortable and don’t flap around. They’re also warm when I need them to be, yet wick away moisture when the sun comes out.

They’re also cheap in relation to branded cotton t-shirts.

merino wool hiking clothes
At MCT HQ, we wear base layers and mid-layers almost exclusively

Summer Motorcycle Base Layers: Conclusion

Summer motorcycle base layers mean I can get away with taking half the amount of clothes on tour that I normally would.

Cotton t-shirts hold moisture, make you uncomfortable, and retain odour.

Base layers keep me dry, comfortable, and fresh.

And I can have them washed and dried within an hour.

Additionally, I can also wear them to dinner or breakfast when teamed with a casual pair of shorts and trainers.

For me, summer motorcycle base layers are appropriate for everything and they go with everything.

Their convenience and comfort means I simply wouldn’t be without them!

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