How to

17 February 2017

Winter Motorcycling - Advice for a Smooth Ride

We’ve looked at driving and cycling in the winter, but what about motorcycling? The in-between-the-two mode of transport is known to be one with its own dangers, especially in the colder months. Here are some tips to keeping you and your bike in tip-top condition when riding in the winter.

Many opt for a car as their preferred mode of transport in winter, with the inviting shelter and in-car heaters. However this does lead to increased road congestion and parking difficulty in the colder months, so perhaps, if you’re a proud motorcycle licence-holder, it’s a better option to brave the cold and hop on your bike.

There are ways to modify your motorbike to make the ride more enjoyable. A decent wind screen does a good job (as the name would suggest) at reducing the speed at which cold winds hit you. Even a small one has some impact.

Also, many go for heated grips for winter riding, to add extra warmth, as well as hand guards or handlebar muffs to protect your hands from the harsh and cold elements. Also be sure to stock up on anti-freeze if your bike is of the water-cooled variety, to avoid any freezing.

Cold temperatures will also, as expected, make your tires cold, and this can reduce traction. Ron Lieback advises how to warm up your tires for Ultimate Motorcycling;

“Many riders sway back and forth like a NASCAR driver, but simply put, this is a waste of time. To truly get heat in the tires, accelerate and decelerate quickly for a bit, obviously being aware of traction. Hard on brakes to hard on the throttle puts heat in the tires more quickly than riding like some redneck. Plus swaying looks stupid.”

It’s also a good idea to keep a close eye on tire pressure, Lieback continues, as its crucial when good grip on potentially slippery roads is needed during the winter months.

It’s also important to wrap yourself up warm to avoid the uncomfortable teeth-chattering cold-feeling as you’re riding. Bennett’s Winter Kit List gives some great advice on how to keep yourself warm. First, waterproof, thermal gloves will keep your hands at a comfortable temperature when riding, giving you ultimate control. The list continues to recommend waterproofs, for obvious reasons, and thermal base layers, which won’t limit your movement; thermal underwear is great for this.

Leathers are a must for riding at any part of the year for your own protection in the event of an accident, but one-pieces are advised in winter especially, in order to reduce draughts. Or alternatively, choose outer-layers with zips to seal up gaps where the cold may make its way in.

Finally, make sure you’re seen in high-visibility clothing. Visibility can be reduced in early-mornings and evenings, as well as during foggy or rainy conditions. Go for high-visibility jackets and of course, ensure your bikes lights are bright. Of course if there’s snow falling in a blizzard-like fashion, it’s best to not ride at all to avoid accidents.

As for how you ride, as well as being mindful of your visibility, be wary of your distance to vehicles. As advised by the RAC; ‘For a typical rider travelling at 30mph, with a 210kg bike, on average the thinking distance would be 9 metres, braking distance 14 metres with a stopping distance of 23 metres. During winter these braking distances can increase up to ten times.’  Put simply; increase your distance to reduce risk of accidents.

So, while the idea of braving the chill by traveling by motorcycle may be daunting in the cold weather, with the relevant precautions made, you’ll be safe and efficient, avoiding mass congestion and keeping as warm as possible. 

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry, with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.