Riding Through Winter
COMPILED BY THE RISK MANAGEMENT STAFF
Depending on where you live, the winter months can range from a minor drop in daytime highs to 5 feet of snow and temperatures in the single digits. As a result, preparing to ride a motorcycle during the winter can be as simple as throwing on an extra base layer of clothing or as difficult as negotiating ice on the roadway. Here are some tips to help keep you safe while riding during the winter season. Your body
There’s a good reason veteran cold-weather riders wear multiple layers of clothing, leather outerwear and even electrically heated riding suits to help insulate them against the cold. The combination keeps you warm and protected from the elements, creating a more enjoyable riding experience. Also, most heat loss occurs at the extremities, especially your head, so a full-face helmet will keep you warmer and less susceptible to wind chill. Your bike
- A windshield will greatly reduce wind chill, keeping you warmer and more comfortable.
- It’s critical to check your tire pressure before each ride during the colder months, as tires can lose upward of 5 psi every day.
- Cold-weather riding puts even more strain on the battery. Use a battery charger to keep it properly charged.
- Use the appropriate weight engine oil for the temperature range you will be operating your motorcycle.
- In extremely cold weather, it can take up to 15-20 minutes of riding before your tires reach their ideal operating temperature.
- Winter riding usually means ever-changing road conditions and hazards, including ice, salt, gravel, wet leaves and pressure ridges. Maintain vigilance and adjust your speeds accordingly.
- Wet leaves are as slippery as an oil slick and just as dangerous. Be aware that moisture trapped under seemingly dry leaves can freeze, creating a hazard in your path.
- When you encounter areas of reduced traction, decrease your speed and lean angle while maintaining equal braking pressure between the front and rear brakes.
- Certain species of trees will release sap during the winter that can form a slippery film when combined with rain.
- Ice can be the single most treacherous aspect of winter riding and often lies in wait in low or shaded areas, bridges and overpasses. Your tires make almost no sound when they are running on the ice. If you notice your tires suddenly get quieter on that back country road, take heed. You might be on ice.
For some of us, the riding season doesn’t end when winter begins. If you plan to ride this winter, keep the tips above in mind. Riding smart will help ensure you’re around to enjoy all of the seasons.