Winter is upon us, bringing inclement weather in most of the northern hemisphere. I know many folks have already stored their bikes away for the winter, especially those in the northern-most states of the US and Canada. But, there are places where you can enjoy riding almost year-round with the right preparation and precautions. Here are my tips for riding in the cold, rain and snow.
- Check your tire tread. As with any sort of outdoor activity in the winter time, you always need to be prepared, and your motorcycle is no exception. Ensuring that your tires have at least 3/32” of tread left is a must!
- Check your tire pressure. Making sure your tire pressure is set to the manufacturer’s specifications every time you ride is key. Because traction is already dismal in the cold months, take the extra time to get this right.
- Give your tires a warm up. Most everyone knows that the road can be slippery when wet, but it can also be slippery when it’s cold. Allow your tires to warm up before you start asking them to stick. I often see riders weaving back and forth attempting to warm their tires up but that does not do much good. Just ride cautiously for the first several miles and allow that friction between the ground and tire to build some heat.
- Layer up. I know I’m not your mother, but I mean it when I say you need to layer up! I’m talking moisture-wicking under garments, weather-proof jackets and pants, warm gloves, wool socks–the works.
- Keep your hands warm. Losing feeling in your fingers is an uncomfortable feeling, and it can also be a risk to your safety. Being smooth on the bar controls is quite difficult when you have to look to see what your hands are doing. If you’re lucky enough to have heated grips, turn those babies on, but if not, make sure you have something extra on your hands so they don’t turn into ice pops. If you need to wear latex gloves underneath your protective gloves, or rubber kitchen gloves on top of them, don’t worry about how it looks. Just do it. You’ll thank me later.
- Be ready for rain. Having a safe machine and proper attire is all fine and dandy until you can’t see anything. Rain drops on your visor combined with hot air in your helmet is a visibility nightmare. A pin-lock visor insert is the best option to keep the fog away, but if that isn’t available for your helmet, an anti-fog spray applied on the inside will do an adequate job. Also, to help keep the water from sticking to the visor, try using a water repellent on the outer surface of the shield read the full info here.
- Ride smoothly. This is the most important bit of advice I can ever give you, and it’s especially important in the winter. Most accidents happen as a result of making a quick decision or reacting in an abrupt way. Whether it be stabbing the brakes, going to the throttle too hard, turning too fast, or a combination of the three, your bike and tires weren’t made to handle those kinds of applications. Get in the habit of being smooth on and off the brakes and clutch. Roll on and off the throttle smoothly, and put gentle pressure on the bars. You will notice a difference in how your bike responds, and how comfortable your ride can be.
Whether you’re commuting or out for a Sunday ride in a local winter wonderland, keep these tips in mind for a safe, enjoyable ride. Happy riding and happy holidays!