It's important to pay close attention to the snow and ice in winter forecasts. If there is a possibility of having a major snowstorm, it is best to keep your motorcycle at home. It is also possible when riding in a controlled environment in the snow for it to be quite fun. Many motorcycle riders use these experiences to increase their skills for riding in good weather. Winter motorcycle riding can be challenging. There are some important tips a motorcyclist should follow to have a good and safe time riding during the winter months.
Tip 1: Wear The Correct Gear
One of the most important things for being comfortable when riding in snow and ice is to wear the right gear. It is important to properly layer clothing. A good base layer is the first step to having a good winter riding experience.
Having proper base layers will enable a rider's skin to breathe and wick away moisture. This will make it possible for sweat to evaporate and not become cold perspiration on the body. There are short cuff gloves than can have a jacket sleeve placed over them for maximum warmth and waterproofing. Some riders will wear glove base layers. The right winter motorcycle gloves can make all the difference when it comes to being able to properly grip in cold weather.
Tip 2: Do Proper Maintenance (It may be different than Summer maintenance!)
Doing motorcycle maintenance in the cold is not a pleasant experience, but the salt on the road can harm important components. Sticky cables do not move freely in low temperatures. It's essential to know how the cold is affecting a motorcycle and correct any problems as soon as possible.
If you know you're riding on salted roads, take extra care to rinse off your bike after you ride. The salt will eventually corode your bike, drastically cutting it's lifespan.
Tip 3: Be Aware of Cold Tire Traction Issues
Cold weather will cause tires to get colder and that decreases traction. Riding will increase the heat but any stop can cool down tires. When trying to get heat in a motorcycle's tires, a rider will have to quickly accelerate and decelerate from time to time. This is done while being aware of any traction issues on the road. Hard on the motorcycle's brake to hard on its throttle will heat up the tires. Swaying back and forth can also help heat the tires while you're riding.
Tip 4: Don't Get Distracted
It's important to be aware that riding in the cold decreases mental concentration. It is more than just having cold fingers. A rider who isn't aware of how the cold is affecting them could experience hypothermia. This will impact a rider's mental sharpness. Their thinking will slow and active anticipation and scanning of possible danger decreases. Judgment issues begin to occur. This can cause bad things to happen. Knowing when it is time for a rest or call it a day is important with winter riding.
If this sounds like something you may be prone to, take extra precautions to make sure you don't get distracted while riding. You may want to pass on the music, and keep your phone tucked away so theres nothing but the road to focus on.
Tip 5: Watch For Road Issues
Salt can cause damage to the metal on a motorcycle and create problems with traction. It is essential when riding in the winter to react to salt as you would react to ice. It's important to avoid sections of the road with crystallized appearances. Plow trucks are essential for removing snow but will destroy roads and cause new cracks. These cracks can be so large they harm a motorcycle's rims. If a section of the road appears to have even the smallest patch of black ice, you should do everything in your power to avoid it. This is also an important time to have the right tire pressure on a winter road.
Tip 6: Focus Further Ahead
When riding during the winter, it is essential to give yourself extra stopping time, since the roads aren't ideal. This means a rider should focus on looking further down the road. It's important to work harder to recognize all possible hazards before they can happen. Doing this will make it possible to have sufficient time to react to any type of threat long before it is a problem.
Tip 7: Following Distance
If you're normally a tailgater...knock it off. During the winter, everything is a little bit harder. Give yourself plenty of space to make decisions, avoid hazards, and slow down. Many riders feel looking 16 seconds ahead is a good rule to follow.
Only Ride in Winter If You're Comfortable!
Winter motorcycle riding isn't for everyone. Just because there isn't a snow storm, doesn't mean you as a rider are ready to deal with icy roads or other cold weather issues. Make sure you're 100% comfortable with the riding conditions before going out. You can also try going on a short ride to see how you're able to handle the cold, and whether or not you can continue commuting on your bike through the Winter.