Some of us are fortunate enough to live in states where the weather remains fairly warm year-round. For the rest of us, winter brings frigid weather and keeps (most) of us off our bikes. Still, there are some brave bikers who let nothing- even the bitter cold of winter- keep them off their bikes. If you are daring to brave the cold of winter on your bike, read these tips to keep you warm and safe!
- Dress in layers! Start with a full leg, full sleeve base layer. These are a must as they absorb sweat and keep you dry and warm. They wick away moisture and allow your sweat to evaporate. Add a pair of wool socks, too! Next comes your regular gear. Fleece is a great material to keep you both warm and dry, and helps insulate your body against the cold. Finally, add your outer gear. An insulated leather jacket, especially one with a zip-in liner, is great on bitter cold days. Another option is a Gore-Tex jacket, as it allows for both waterproof and breathability. Wear a glove base layer and choose gloves that are made for freezing conditions. Remember, however, that flexibility is key, especially with gloves. Add a neck warmer and a fog-free face shield and you will be good to go! Heated gear is another option, but it can add bulk and can become uncomfortable, especially on long rides.
- Prep your bike. Heated grips are a great addition and you’ll be grateful for them on cold winter mornings! Check to see that your antifreeze is fresh and your hoses are in good shape. A big windscreen is a great addition, too! Make sure your bike is in optimal shape. You don’t want to get stuck far from home with a busted bike on a cold day. If you are riding on chemically treated roads, remember that those chemicals can cause corrosion so wipe down your bike after you ride.
- Cold tires can mean traction troubles. When you begin your ride, accelerate and decelerate for a bit. By applying your brakes and hitting the throttle, you will warm your tires quickly. Make sure your tires have plenty of tread. If you are getting even close to worn, replace them. Winter not the time to mess with stretching your tires thin. Check your tire pressure before you ride, as it can fluctuate a lot due to heating and cooling. Traction is crucial, especially as road debris like salts, sand, chemicals, and oils build up during winter months (not to mention snow, slush, and ice)!
- Monitor the roadways. One of the biggest road hazards bikers face are potholes. They are abundant during winter months, as they form due to freezing, thawing, and refreezing and the abuse from snow plows. Check the roads carefully and avoid cracked areas as well, as they are potholes just waiting to be formed. I once had a buddy get in a near crash because a chunk literally pulled out of the asphalt as he ran over it. In addition to potholes, black ice, sand, chemicals, snow, and slush can cause slick road conditions. If you can avoid icy areas, do so! If the temperature is hovering right around freezing, black ice can form. If the roads are problematic, pull off and find a café. Better to kill an hour and enjoy a cup of joe than to crash!
- Be extra vigilant! Wintery weather conditions means that roads are in suboptimal condition. Be extra cautions around other vehicles. Allow extra space as you will require greater braking distance, and so will the cars around you. Remember that even if you are a safe driver, some drivers are not. Slow down, allow for an escape route whenever possible, and keep your eyes on the road ahead of you. If it starts to snow or get icy, head home. The same applies if it starts to rain, if temperatures are expected to drop. If you don’t have a thermometer on your bike, now is a great time to add one. It will allow you to know when you should start working your way home.
The chill of winter should not keep you off your bike, but it should keep you extra vigilant. No one wants to break down in the icy cold, especially not bikers. Keep the number for a reliable tow on hand, and consider riding with your buddies. It’s always better to partner up on rides, anyway.
For a free legal consultation,
Whether you choose to brave the cold or not, the team of experienced motorcycle crash lawyers at Kass & Moses urge you to ride safe! Winter roads are especially hazardous and collisions can result in life-altering injuries. Use proper gear, bundle up, and keep your eyes on the road ahead. If you are involved in a crash, know that the team at 1-800-MOTORCYCLE has got your back!