Winter is here, and for some riders, it means the motorcycle riding season is over. The bike goes into hibernation, safely stored in the garage, and protected until spring emerges. But, it’s not how all bikers function during winter.
Apart from the lucky ones that get to ride all-year-round without having to worry about heavy weather conditions, many bikers choose to ride their motorcycle during the winter. With the right equipment, a clear mindset, some common sense, and minor changes in your riding style, bikers can ride safely throughout the winter.
Every season demands caution when you’re riding a motorcycle, but winter, in particular, tends to be ruthless, so it’s imperative to be prepared.
Here are five essential tips for safely riding your motorcycle during winter:
Make sure riding during winter is legal in your country
Since our readers are bikers from all over the world, it’s important to note that riding a motorcycle during wintertime is not legal in every part of our planet.
Many countries only allow riding if you install winter traction tires on your bike between specific dates during the winter. Others don’t allow motorcycle riding during the winter months at all. Some countries don’t have a specific law about riding a bike in the winter.
Before hitting the road and roaring with your bike mid-January, make sure that riding a motorcycle during wintertime is legal in your region. You also need to make sure you meet all the requirements regarding gear and parts.
Don’t ride when it’s snowing
Most bikers can handle cold weather, some crazy wind, and even ice. However, if you get caught in a snowstorm, your visibility will be gradually reduced, and you will have minimal options: suck it up and ride 2 miles per hour till you get home, avoiding black ice, salt, sharp curves, and other drivers – all the while without seeing a thing, or find the nearest shelter to wait it out.
Don’t worry; no one will think you’re a snowflake for not wanting to ride blindly into the snow. If it starts to snow, you better forget about riding and wait for a better day. In case you get caught in a snowstorm, use the rear brake slow and take the nearest shelter to stay safe until it passes.
Always wear the proper gear
We’ve all heard this so many times; it’s starting to sound catchy. Some bikers choose to pay attention to wearing protective gear, and they do it all year long, while others choose differently. However, the buzz-kill we call crazy arctic winter requires you to pay more attention to your gear than you usually would. The ice, snow, wind, and cold require you to invest in some heavy-duty motorcycle gear.
Warm boots, pants, gloves, a jacket, and a full-face helmet are a must if you want to enjoy riding during the cold winter months. If you’ve ever tried to tough out and go for a ride during the wintry weather, you know the agony of riding while having the tiniest part of your body naked.
Remember: cold weather means cold tires
It’s always important to keep your tires in optimal working order. But, during winter, it’s not only important – it’s imperative. When you ride in average weather conditions, your tires heat up from the ride, which results in better traction – which enables you to handle your bike like a boss.
However, during wintertime, you may rest assured that all the heat your tires have t=gathered up during riding is gone within less than a minute. So, every time you stop, it’s like you’re starting from scratch again with a completely cold tire. Traction is way worse than in normal weather conditions, so remember to slow down.
Check your bike before hitting the road
You must regularly check your T-CLOCS during the winter, and this includes:
You should inspect all of them before going for a ride, and you should also check if the drive chain is lubricated and that the bike roles nicely and freely with no resistance. When you start your bike, make sure you let the engine warm-up for several minutes, especially if you haven’t run it for some time. After you do this, take your motorcycle out for a short ride for a final check before hitting the road. Remember to practice emergency braking. The winter is filled with surprises for a motorcycle rider, and most of them aren’t pleasant. Wet leaves, icy roads, and slippery patches are all over the place.
Riding during winter isn’t impossible (unless it’s illegal), and the best advice you could ever get is to take it easy. You will have to leave those carefree open road riding days for the warm summer nights because, during winter, you will have a lot to think about while riding. The conditions need your full attention at all times. Not only will there be less traction due to less grip on icy or wet roads, but you will also see the wind, rain, and snow as massive challenges.
Make sure always to use your lane, give yourself some time and space to adapt, ride slower than you would in the summer, and wear the proper gear. If you plan a long motorcycle trip, stop and warm up frequently along the way.
By Diana Spasic
chief editor @ Biker Digital