I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but its winter. You might not have if its warm all year round where you live – but where I am, temperatures are plummeting. Some of you may have already winterized your bikes and tucked them away until spring, but others may have bought extra layers of clothing to prepare for some cold weather riding. Winter riding is all about being comfortable and enjoying yourself, so temperatures above 20 degrees Fahrenheit should help you do so. Don’t let your ego get in the way and ride in unsafe conditions. Continue reading for some for some key cold weather riding tips.
Check Your Tire Quality
Cold weather equals even colder tires. What does that mean for riding exactly? Limited traction. Of course the longer you ride helps increase heat in the tired, but continuous stopping can cool them back down. How do you heat up your tires you might ask? You might have heard that swaying back and forth like a NASCAR driver will do the trick – but that’s incorrect. To really push heat in your tires, you must accelerate and brake which flexes the carcass and causes friction. If you have the budget, invest in some all weather tires as they are a better choice for riding in the winter.
Tire quality is also important for riding in the winter. You want to make sure your tires have at least 50% tread life to take on your local roadways.Pay attention to your tire pressure as well. When the temperature plummets, so does the air pressure in your tires, so pay attention to them before you head out on a ride.
Watch the Road Conditions
Winter is known for unleashing its vengeance on roads. Salt, cracks from plows and black ice can cause cold weather riding to be trickier than it needs to be. Salt can cause motorcycles to wilt to rust, cracks or potholes can take its toll on your tires, especially if they’re not properly inflated, and black ice should just be avoided at all times. Be prepared for these killers by keeping your eyes far ahead and always expect the worst. If you are ever in doubt, slow down and collect yourself.
Wear Proper Gear
You want to be well insulated when cold weather riding. You’re not very active when on your motorcycle, so your body isn’t doing much to produce heat on its own. Its crucial that you do whatever it takes to keep valued heat that you do produce on our body, and not have it float off into the frigid winter air. How do you achieve this? Two things: layers and wind proofing.
Layers are critical when cold weather riding. The amount of layers you put on is up to you based on the current temperature. You want to be warm enough and feel comfortable when you step foot outside and stand in place. Make sure your bottom layer is some sort of thermal or fleece undergarment so a thin layer of warm air will be between your body and the piece of clothing. A zip up fleece with a neck collar over your base layer will help create an insulated barrier, but don’t wear too many layers to the point you lose mobility on your bike.
One of the biggest issues when riding your motorcycle in the cold weather is keeping the wind out. Wind is your arch nemesis when riding in the winter and doing everything in your power to avoid it is beneficial to your comfort. You want to make sure your outer layer is made of some kind of wind proof material. Leather is your best friend in this situation. Adding a windshield to your motorcycle will help block the wind as well. Also wear a full face motorcycle helmet with a neck covering. Heat rises and escapes through your head so you want to keep it warm at all cost.
If you have any more cold weather riding tips, please share them with us in the comments below!