Top 10 Safety Tips for Winter Riders
Sometimes, your motorcycle is too much to ignore. We’re looking at you winter riders!
For some people, no matter the season, sunny or not, you just have to jump on that bike and ride! But riding in the winter is a bit trickier from the other seasons.
Suddenly, winter hits. Slow speeds, heavy set mud, and deep snow can make the motor work much harder than it might during the summer. There is also the threat of cold, slushy water crashing around your bike components and corrosive salts that can spread rust quicker than you can blink.
This winter, let us supply you with the tools and helpful tips to keep you, winter rider, and your bike in top shape.
10 Ways to Keep Winter Riders Safe on the Roads
1 – Make Sure You Can Ride this Winter
Before you even begin to start swinging on your winter gear, ask yourself one question. Is riding during the winter even legal where you live or where you want to ride?
Check with local authorities about any and all laws that could keep you off the road this winter. Some states require winter traction tires that are installed within a specific set of dates. Some won’t allow you on the road at all during winter, and some won’t have any specified winter riding regulations at all. It’s best to check before you make travel plans.
2 – Wear the Right Motorcycle Gear for Winter
Riding comfortably is a smart move for any winter rider. However, wearing layers (i.e. full leg and full sleeve) is key. While riding, we sweat, even in the winter time, and having base layers can help save you from having an uncomfortable ride.
Base layers allow the skin to breathe, even with other layers over them. These pieces of gear allow the sweat to evaporate instead of turning to cold perspiration on the body. When it comes to outerwear, you’re going to want something that’s breathable and waterproof. Pair it with gloves that give you the proper grip, strong control, and safer mobility for steering.
And along with layering, it’s incredibly important that you add heated motorcycle gear and grips to your riding wardrobe to avoid frostbite when the temperature drops. There are warmer winter days, depending on where you live, but if you are in a classic winter climate – snow or no snow – you really need to invest in heated gear. Frostbite is not worth the risk.
3 – The Winter Rider’s Right Type of Helmet
We all know the drill. To ride safely, you need a helmet.
For the winter season, you want to consider helmets specifically made to combat colder elements. You want to look for a tightly-sealed helmet with a fog-free face shield to keep your vision clear from the outside temperatures. A bright reflector is another smart investment in your winter gear. This prevents any mist or condensation from collecting under your visor. Anything blocking your vision needs to be changed to be able to see clearly on some icy roads.
4 – Your Motorcycle is Properly Prepped and Prepared
Here’s the thing: motorcycles aren’t necessarily made for the winter months. This means you need to continuously make sure it’s running in tip-top shape.
Start by checking on the coolant that’s running in your radiator. Is there a proper amount of coolant? Is there enough Antifreeze to keep the bike going? What the lowest temperature the engine on your bike can stand? Can the electrical system of your bike handle the cold?
These are all things you need to ask yourself before you adventure out into the chill.
5 – Keep an Eye on Your Tires
Remember, cold weather = cold tires. Now that should be obvious. In the winter, it’s vital to keep this in mind. When your tires get cold, it gives the bike limited traction. Riding does help increase heat in the tires, but every stop you make can quickly have them cooling down as well. When they start to cool down, remember to take it slow. Make sure you have adequate tread on your tires for winter riding, that way when are forced to slow down on the bike you still have all the control.
Another helpful tip; check your tire pressure before every ride. Extreme drops in temperature affect the tire pressure.
And we have a helpful blog you should read that talks about when to replace your motorcycle tires.
6 – Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Snow means salt, plow trucks, and black ice on the roads, so keep your eyes peeled! Salt that’s laid down for the ice can destroy the metal on your bike and ruin the traction. Avoid any crystalized appearances on the road. Motorcycles aren’t designed for winter riding, so they can quickly succumb to rust if you don’t keep your bike clean. Plow trucks can destroy roads, creating new cracks and potholes. And as for black ice? Always avoid it at all cost.
7 – Know when it’s Time to Go Home
The worst thing you can possibly do is to drive your bike through a snowstorm.
A few flurries are one thing, but being caught in a snowstorm is another. When the snow starts coming down harder, visibility reduces drastically to almost nothing. It will be harder to see the road in front of you and even harder for others to see you down the lane.
When you see that the snow has started coming down, it’s time to turn your bike around and head back home and save your ride for another day.
8 – Winter Riders Need to See and be Seen
Speaking of visibility, whether the weather gets a little rougher or the sun starts to set, make sure you’re still seen. Having on a reflector vest can help make sure that cars see you coming. Sometimes it’s not the road you have to watch out for, it’s the people around you driving that you need to keep an eye on.
9 – Slow it Down
Part of the fun of a motorcycle is the speed; we get that. But when you’re handling ice, it’s a bit of a different story and not a combo worth trying.
Take it easy on the road.
Speed and black ice don’t mix; regardless of the road conditions, it’s crucial that you drive safely to avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else. That is something we want to avoid at all costs.
10 – Check the Weather Before you Travel
The easiest, safest thing you can do for yourself is to check that weather before you head out the door. Keep an eye on the weather patterns before you even step outside. It will save yourself a headache and also the chance of ruining your plans.
By keeping ahead of the weather and being smart about it, that guarantees a great ride.
Bring on Winter Riders!
Sometimes you can’t avoid the call of your machine, and we get you, winter rider.
Winter doesn’t stop that drive and why should it? We want you to enjoy that beast whenever and wherever you want to travel. Snow won’t stop you and neither will we.
Just be safe, be smart, and go for it!