Cold Weather Riding Tips

Don’t Winterize That Bike!!!

Every rider loves the warm weather. I am no exception to that.What about winter. Most people (in the northern states) winterize their bikes. Even I did the last year I was in New York.  Dam, I think I am getting old…lol. Now we have been coming to Florida for most winters I thought that was over with. Last year was not so bad. Usually, you have a few cool nights but that was it. Daytime riding is great.

One year we decided to try northern Florida. We stayed at Casey Jones RV Park. Never again!!! Even though there were no big snowstorms or sub-zero temperatures, we did dip below the freezing mark at night for about a week. We even had a few weeks (not back to back) that were just a tad above the freezing mark. I actually used my heated gear a couple of days!!!  Although I have not ridden in super cold weather since retirement, growing up on Long Island, New York provided me with some pretty cold winters of riding. I remember being at work on freezing cold days and people would see my bike in the parking lot and ask me if I was nuts and how can I possibly have ridden.

It’s Snowing. Let’s Go For A Ride!!!… Not!!!

Even though the weather was cold, I still enjoyed running around on the bike. With a little preparation and some common sense, you can safely ride throughout most cold-weather enjoyable. Obviously, snow and ice are absolute deal-breakers. You should never even attempt to ride in these conditions. Aside from those things, I have a few tips for those who don’t like to winterize but would rather ride instead.

Good Mechanical Condition

First and most importantly make sure your bike is in good mechanical condition. If your bike is water-cooled, make sure your antifreeze is fresh, is the proper mixture, and topped off. Make sure the hoses are in good condition also. It would truly suck to be miles from home in the cold and have a hose split stranding you on the side of the road. As you sit on the side of the road freezing your ass off waiting for the tow truck, you will be kicking yourself in the ass for not replacing those worn hoses.

Swaying Is For Music

The same goes for tires. You might get away with worn tires in the warm weather (although not recommended), you will not fare well in colder weather. Tires lose a little of their grip when cold and that coupled with limited tread could be deadly. Of course, don’t forget to check the air pressure in each tire before you go. A lot of people think swaying back and forth will heat your tires up quickly but that is just not the case. The best way to heat up those tires is by progressively harder starts and stops. Remember, ride on cold tires as you would in the rain. Keep the bike as straight up as possible while you are aggressively starting and stopping. Since it is so cold out, each time you stop for a few minutes the tires will cool down. Overall, just slow it down while cold-weather riding.

Let’s Start At The Top

Now for what you can do for yourself. Let’s start at the top. A good tight-fitting helmet with a fog-free face shield is a great start. You are not going to enjoy your ride if your face is frozen. Along with a good helmet, one of the best things I ever bought is a balaclava. It was probably one of the cheapest things I have ever bought when it comes to motorcycling…lol. I would have never realized the difference this thing makes if it weren’t for a fellow rider that suggested it. Wearing it the first time, I was sold. It is a must piece of gear for your cold-weather arsenal.

My Choice Is Heated Gear

Now that your head and face are warm, let’s move down to your body. The best thing I can suggest is to dress in layers. Start with good moisture-wicking undergarments and build from there. Things made with Gore-Tex fabric. This is the layer I like to throw my heated vest in. As far as heated gear goes, people either love it or hate it. I never wore heated gear until a few years before I retired. Now, I would never be without it. This will be your personal choice but either way layer up.

As far as the outer jacket, I would buy a good quality jacket that has both armor and layers. One that you can use in the summer, then zip in the liner for the cold weather. I personally went to a high-vis jacket instead of a dark one. I try to do anything that can make myself more visible. That’s another whole blog topic though. Just remember to layer up. Choose your clothing wisely or you will wind up with so much on, you can’t move…lol

I Can’t Feel My Toes

Moving on down to your legs and feet. This is going to be very similar to the midsection recommendations. Your legs need to stay warm and dry too. Once again, do not pile on so much clothing that you are unable to move your legs. Some good thick socks and waterproof boots should also be part of your cold-weather gear.

Now for the part of your cold-weather arsenal. Your gloves. Again, I went to a heated glove and absolutely love it. If you choose a non-heated type glove you will want to go with something waterproof, windproof and warm. They sell cheaper thicker style gloves that will make your hands so warm they will sweat. That’s where the problem will arise. As soon as they get sweaty, shortly after they will start to freeze. Nothing worse than trying to ride with frozen fingers. If you do not have heated grips, you can put a thinner glove under your riding glove for extra warmth or choose one with an insulating material.  As for me, if my hands get cold I just turn up the heat knob to the next setting. Just saying…lol

Salt Is Only Good For French Fries

Well, hopefully, that will get you to consider some cold weather riding. It can be just as fun as riding in the spring if you are properly prepared. One other thing I should mention. Most places that see snow and ice usually coat the roads with sand and/or salt. As always be aware of your road conditions as sand can be as slippery as ice. Also, keep in mind that snowplows will rip up sections of the road. Slow down and stay alert. Remember to stay hydrated. When it’s cold out people tend to not drink as much as those warmer days. Lastly, you might want to wipe the salt off your bike when you get back home.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below

Ride Often/Ride Safe

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