For many motorcycle enthusiasts, the onset of winter can be depressing and potentially unsafe if not prepared. If you live in a part of the country that isn’t lucky to have perfect riding weather year round, ideal riding weather may only last about six months. When the temperatures drop it’s important to prepare for the weather that often comes next.
Even if you’re willing to “tough it out” for awhile, you must be responsible, dress appropriately, and continue to ride safely. Remember, as seasons change and the daylight shortens, driving conditions can become more dangerous, increasing the likelihood of an accident. According to Marks & Harrison, Attorneys at Law, in a majority of accidents involving motorcycles, the driver of the other vehicle simply did not see the motorcycle. Unfortunately, when fall and early winter arrives (“off season” for motorcyclists), drivers are less prepared to see motorcycles.
Tips for Enjoying the Cold Weather Riding
If you don’t mind a little bone chilling wind, early winter riding might be your thing. Unfortunately, even the most hardcore riders must know when to call it quits for the season. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your extended riding season:
- Dress For the Weather: Just as you would during the rest of the riding season, dress appropriately for the weather. Dress in layers starting with a base layer and ending in a waterproof and windproof shell. Your body produces less heat while riding and it’s important to trap any heat. Think of dressing for your ride the same way you would when participating in outdoor activities. Just make sure your layers don’t interfere with visibility or movement.
- Wear a Helmet, No Excuses: Many riders complain of a foggy visor during cold weather. This is a minor inconvenience that can be easily fixed, but not an excuse to ditch your helmet.
- Watch the Weather: During the late fall/early winter season, the weather can change quickly and suddenly. Before you take your motorcycle out, check the forecast. If there’s any chance of snow, don’t go out. As long as the roads stay dry, you should be safe, but should still proceed with caution. Even experienced motorcyclists avoid black ice and snow whenever possible. You won’t win any street cred by riding in the snow.
- Ride Defensively: Just as you would any other time of the year, continue to ride as if no one can see you. Signal your intentions (such as lane changes), wear bright and visible clothing, and don’t forget to your turn signals and a headlight. Stay out of blind spots and pass all cars with care and stay within a safe distance.
- Winterize Your Motorcycle: If you decide to extend your riding season, even if for a month, make sure you have fresh anti-freeze and that your tires are in good condition. For all other winterizing ideas for your bike, make sure you visit your dealership or a trusted motorcycle technician.
- Take Care of Yourself: Remember, outdoor activities can zap your energy if your body isn’t properly fueled. Eat high energy foods, avoid caffeine and alcohol (as they can be dehydrating), and drink plenty of water as it’s easy to become dehydrated in colder weather as we don’t always feel thirsty. Always ride when you’re well-rested, never when you’re drowsy or feeling unwell.