Keeping Yourself Safe and Comfortable when Riding in the Winter
Just because your neck of the woods got hit with cold temperatures and deep snow doesn’t mean the motorcycle fun has to end. With a little effort, it’s not too difficult to stay warm and dry while you’re riding. But it’s more than just wearing a neck warmer and hitting the throttle. There are a few subtle ways to keep your body heat up and keep the cold out. So if you want to keep revving your engines until spring rolls around, check out these tips for riding your motorcycle in winter.
Our Tips for Cold Weather Riding
You’ve got your earmuffs and your winter gloves, are you ready? Well, not quite. Just having your regular winter gear won’t really cut it for riding your motorcycle in the winter. There are some different tips and pieces of special riding gear you want to have. Let’s talk about how you can keep warm and keep riding.
Getting the Right Gear for Riding a Motorcycle in Winter
Dressing in Layers
You can spend hundreds of dollars on all sorts of fancy gear, but the very first thing you need to know is this: Always dress in layers. But it’s not as simple as throwing on a sweatshirt under your jacket. There is an art to layering correctly. Doing it right means riding in style and staying warm. Doing it wrong is going to mean a pretty uncomfortable experience.
You always want to dress in at least three layers. Each layer should be comprised of specific kinds of material and performs a specific function.
Here are the layers you should keep in mind when dressing for winter motorcycle riding:
- Base Layer: Your base layer has one basic function: to provide warmth. This is our insulating layer. The best base layer provides warmth and is also made with a moisture-wicking material. This will keep your sweat off your body and keep you warm and dry.
- Mid Layer: The mid-layer is where the majority of our warmth comes from. Choose a bulky but comfortable sweater, jacket, or another piece of clothing.
- Outer Layer: Our outer most layer needs to be our strongest. This is your layer that will block the wind from penetrating your layers and making you incredibly cold.
One of the most important pieces of gear you need is a good pair of gloves. Your hands are the first thing catching that icy wind off the highway. If you’re not wearing good, insulated gloves, you’re going to be feeling it.
One piece of gear to give some good thought to is a pair of insulated gloves. There are plenty out there made from all sorts of materials with different features. The best gloves, however, are made from sturdy, windproof material. Any rider who has been out in winter without good gloves can tell you: cold hands are going to send you packing.
Another thing you can think about is getting some heated motorcycle gear. We’re all familiar with the wind chill making temperatures even colder. When you’re out riding the highway doing 60 mph, you’re adding an additional wind chill factor that you need to compensate for.
Dressing in layers is essential but if your layers are comprised of heated gear, you’re going to be doing even better. In addition to heated gear for your body, you can also get heated gear for your bike. Heated grips and heated seat pads can be just as instrumental to keeping your body heat as your layers.
Cold-Weather Gear For Your Bike
Check Your Tires
You buy winter tires for your car, so why not for your bike? Well, one reason is that folks might not know they exist. But if you’re serious about winter riding, this is an investment that can save your life.
Beyond having better tread designs for snow riding, winter tires are actually made differently. The rubber used to make winter tires is made from a special compound. It keeps the tires from getting too cold in winter weather. This allows them to maintain their grip when your summer tires would be sliding over the surface.
Reduce Your Wind Chill
Just like with your hands catching the brunt of the windchill, your face catches a lot, too. One really important purchase is a windshield for your motorcycle. It won’t completely negate any of the windchill coming from the front of your bike, but it will greatly reduce it.
You can’t stay out in the cold riding forever, but with a good windshield, you can increase the clock!
Things to Look Out For When Riding a Motorcycle in Winter
Salt and Black Ice
Salt on the road is a good thing when you’re in your car. When you’re on your bike, salt and sand can be just as deadly as the icy road. The loose grains on the road create a surface that is incredibly difficult for your tires to grip on to. It can spell a mean spill quickly.
Of course, black ice isn’t your friend, either. If you notice ice on the road, turn around and head back.
Winter Riding Safety – Increase Following Distance and Visibility
Riding in winter can be difficult for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons is the same no matter what season it is: you can’t control other drivers on the road. In the winter when stopping can be especially difficult you need to make sure that you increase your following distance.
It also helps immensely to increase your visibility. Black might be your color of choice, but make sure your winter gear is bright and easy to see. It could save your life.
If you See Snow, Head Home
This one is extremely simple. When you see the first flake, head home. There’s no reason to put yourself or others in danger by riding when it’s currently snowing. If you see the flakes start falling, it’s time to call it quits.
Adjusting to Riding in Cold Weather
Winter riding is a bit like its own sport. It requires its own gear and its own equipment. Winter riding can also be especially rewarding, though. It gives us some peace and solitude on the road and we get to enjoy the beautiful winter landscape. For those of us who just can’t bear to put away the bike for the winter, it’s a necessity. No matter what reason you want to ride this winter, just make sure you do it safely!