Calculating the Wind Chill When Riding a Motorcycle


The temperature being felt when you are riding a motorcycle and the one outside are not the same. That is because of the wind chill, also called wind chill factor, which makes it feel colder. Although it is not easy, there is a way to calculate it, at least to have an idea of the real temperature being felt by the rider. Here is an explanation about wind chill.

What Is Wind Chill?

Wind chill explains why the perception of the cold on your body is more intense than the actual temperature, when you are riding a motor bike. It is the flow of air on the body which causes the change. And although it is a sensation, it is still quite real and can be dangerous if you don’t take it in account.

When you are not in movement, the cold is less intense on you than when you are on the road facing the wind. Although the air doesn’t suddenly become cooler, your perception does. In fact, it’s a reality, not just a sensation and if not considered by motorcycle drivers, it can become a health hazard. Other elements are also to be considered when judging the sensation of cold on the skin, like rain and moisture in the air.

How Can We Calculate the Wind Chill Factor?

There is no precise way to calculate a sensation. But since it is so important, especially to motorbike riders, there have been many attempts to find a way to do so. The goal is to determine the temperature felt by the body when you add the wind factor in the equation. That way, those affected can protect themselves better.

It is so difficult to calculate, that there isn’t even a standard between regions. Europe and North America have totally different ways to determine the wind chill. The European wind chill index is calculated via a relation between the ambient temperature and the speed at which the motorcycle is going. In North America, they don’t take in account the speed of the driver but instead the strength of the wind. For those scientifically inclined, here is the precise equation that they use, T representing the ambient temperature and V the wind speed:

Wind Chill (°F) = 35,74 + 0,6215T – 35,75(V0,16) + 0,4275T(V0,16)

But if you look at the situation more closely, even countries next to one another don’t agree on the method, as each weather bureau as its own. It would seem like this science still needs to be studied before it can become something universal.

What are the Dangers of Wind Chill?

There can be very serious side effects to wind chill, if someone does not take it in account when going out driving a motorcycle in the cold. The two main ones are frostbites and hypothermia.


When the weather outside gets too cold, the moisture found in our tissues can freeze and crystalize. This will cause a deterioration of the body tissues which can lead to extreme complications like infection and even amputation. Any sign of frostbite should be handled immediately by heading to the hospital for treatment.

To understand how rapidly frostbite can happen, you should know that at wind chill of -30 degree Celsius, damage can be caused within 30 minutes. At a lower temperature averaging -45, it can happen in a matter of minutes. Therefore, if you are out driving a motorbike in the cold, you need to be extremely well protected against the wind.


Hypothermia happens when the temperature of your body falls below 35 degrees Celsius. Your extremities, at this point, will feel very cold and there is a high risk that your body will shut down and you could suddenly fall asleep, which could kill you if you were riding a motorcycle. Normally, hypothermia is not something you would die from, unless you remain in the cold for a very long period of time. But it can leave important sequels in the kidneys, pancreas and the liver.

How to Prepare Against Wind Chill When Driving a Motorcycle

The first thing to do is to consider the weather before going out. There is no point risking your life driving a motorbike if the weather is too cold. At low temperatures, the roads will also be more dangerous, with risks of ice on which the motorcycle could slip and make you fall.

Also, the weather can change quickly on the road. Check your itinerary before leaving and take the time to look-up a weather channel on the internet to know the temperature and the wind chill at various points of your road plan, particularly those where you will ride at higher altitude or in special conditions such as through a forest.

Once you have this information, dress accordingly to keep warm. Don’t be afraid to add many layers of clothing and protect your extremities well.

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