You usually do not think of winter as being a motorcycle-riding season. However, some people just love riding so much that they will ride in any season. They do not mind getting out in the bitter wind, freezing temperatures, and risk for inclement weather. Driving any vehicle in the winter has its challenges. If you do feel like you want to test the limits and have your bike out in all seasons, use these tips to safely ride a motorcycle during winter.
How-to: Safely Ride a Motorcycle During Winter: Hitting the Road in the Cold
Clothing and Gear
Depending on where you live, the winter months can get really cold. Unlike in a car, truck, or SUV, you have no protection from the elements on a motorcycle. The cold temps pose one of the biggest risks for riding a motorcycle in the winter. Luckily, there are many different types of motorcycle gear to keep you warm. In order to safely ride a motorcycle during winter, dress in layers that will protect your skin. Start with a comfortable base layer that will cover your arms and legs. While you are riding, you can start to sweat. Because of this, opt for synthetics as opposed to cotton in order to pull moisture away from your skin. Add a base layer that will insulate you from the cold. Next, you will want a heavy jacket, gloves, socks, and a helmet to keep you warm.
Visibility can be reduced during winter weather. On top of that, the days are shorter, leading to a higher chance of riding in the dark. Make sure to wear reflective clothing, so that other vehicles and pedestrians will be better able to see you.
As the temperatures drop, your tires will also get colder. This can lead to the tires having less traction on the road, which can increase your risk of sliding. If you are going to ride a motorcycle during winter, make sure to check your tire pressure before you head out. Keeping your tires filled to the appropriate level will help your bike grip the road as best as it can. Winter roads can also be slick. Keep an eye on your tire tread, and make sure it does not get below 2/32 inch. Your tires will not grip the road well if they start to go bald.
When you ride a motorcycle during winter, keep an eye out for road hazards like potholes and cracks. Throughout the winter, the roads can freeze and thaw many times. This process causes the road to crack or get potholes in them. In addition, snowplows can cause damage to the road as well. Watch out, as these hazards can hurt your rims or cause you to have an accident.
Oftentimes, road salt is put on the road during winter to help melt ice. Be mindful that road salt can actually cause your bike to rust. If you are going to take your motorcycle out during winter, get it washed frequently to remove the salts.