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Winter Motorcycling Advice: Riding, Maintenance & Gear
Jake T · October 24, 2023
Winter is a season that often sends shivers down the spine of most new riders. The biting cold, slippery roads, and reduced visibility can make riding a real challenge. However, with the right approach and preparation, winter riding can be an exhilarating and enjoyable experience.
Worry not, here at RideTo we will explore some top tips for making the most of your winter motorcycle adventures, covering everything from riding techniques to essential maintenance and the right gear to keep you warm and safe on the road.
1. Mastering the Art of Winter Riding:
Riding a motorcycle in winter demands a different set of skills compared to the warmer months. First and foremost, slow down!
Icy roads require increased braking distances and reduced speeds. You’re going to want to be gentle on the throttle and the same goes for the brakes to avoid skidding. Practice smooth and gradual movements to stay in control of your bike. Additionally, be extra cautious at junctions and turns, where black ice is more likely to form. Give a wide birth to anything that could be slippery when wet such as manhole covers and grates. As always keep your eyes peeled for any oil or fuel spill on the road too.
2. Essential Maintenance:
Winter can be harsh on your motorcycle. The salt used on roads to melt snow can lead to corrosion, so it's crucial to keep your bike clean. Regularly wash off any salt residue and dry your motorcycle thoroughly. Lubricate moving parts, including the chain, to prevent rust. Check your tire pressure frequently, as it tends to drop in colder temperatures, affecting traction/grip. Also, ensure your brakes are in top condition – they are your best friend when it comes to navigating slippery roads. If you’re not sure where to start, we have a helpful guide on motorcycle maintenance here.
3. Gear Up for the Cold:
Investing in the right gear is essential for staying warm and dry during winter rides. Start with a good quality, insulated motorcycle jacket and trousers. Look for options that are windproof and waterproof to shield you from the elements. Layering is key, so wear thermal shirts and pants underneath your riding gear. Don't forget a buff or balaclava to protect your face from the cold wind. Waterproof gloves and boots are a must to keep your hands and feet warm and dry.
4. Visibility and Lighting:
Winter days are shorter, and visibility can be poor due to fog, rain, or snow. Make sure all your lights, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals, are working correctly. Consider installing auxiliary lights to increase your visibility to other road users. Wearing reflective gear or adding reflective strips to your clothing and motorcycle can significantly enhance your visibility, reducing the risk of accidents.
5. Plan Your Routes:
Before heading out, plan your routes carefully. Stick to well-maintained roads and highways that are more likely to be salted and plowed. Avoid steep hills and winding roads, especially in icy conditions. Inform someone about your planned route and expected arrival time, so they can raise the alarm if you don't reach your destination within a reasonable timeframe.
Top Tip: Some apps such as Whatsapp allow you to share your live location which may be handy before setting off as it allows loved ones to see your journey in real time.
6. Know When to Stay In:
Lastly, use your judgment. If the weather conditions are exceptionally harsh, it might be better to postpone your ride. Snowstorms, freezing rain, and extremely low temperatures can create dangerous riding conditions. Your safety should always be the top priority.
Winter riding can be a thrilling adventure if approached with caution and the right preparation. By mastering winter riding techniques, maintaining your motorcycle diligently, investing in proper gear, ensuring visibility, planning your routes, and knowing when to stay in, you can make the most of your winter motorcycle journeys. Stay safe, stay warm, and enjoy the ride!