Winter Riding Tips For Motorcycling
Motorcyclists are a tough breed. If you are an experienced rider you will no doubt have your seasonal riding plan. For the most dedicated riders, winter preparations can even mean a winter bike. What if you have not faced the rigours of winter riding though. Maybe you are new to the harshness of winter commuting, or have only just started riding?
Whatever camp you fall into, here are JC Motorcycles top 5 tips for winter riding.
Top tips for winter motorcycling – On The Road
With global warming throwing us ever more interesting seasonal changes, danger lurks. More and more riders are choosing to ride much later into the year. We know this, because here at JC Motorcycles, the seasonal drop in servicing and MOT bookings is coming later each year.
With warmer autumn and winter months, you can be lulled into a false sense of security. One of the hidden dangers is permafrost. While the road may look fine to the eye, permafrost can sit, lying in wait for the unsuspecting rider. Watch out for patches of slippery road surface under overhanging trees, and sections of road which are in shade during the morning. Riding less aggressively in the winter is advised anyway, but these patches of icy road can linger long into the day. With a patch of permafrost, you will rarely see it until it is too late.
2. Winter Braking distances
Again, this seems obvious. However, we are creatures of habit. If you ride the same route daily, you become accustomed to the braking points for fixed obstacles like roundabouts and junctions. Add distance. If it is wet, you will naturally brake earlier. During the winter try and ride as if the road is wet. Take extra caution when gritters have been out. Although gritters are there to provide grip, very often they will leave accumulated piles in various places. Hitting a patch of deep grit is likely to make your front wheel wash out if you are steering or leaning.
3. Wind Chill
You set out on a nice afternoons ride out. You have your leathers on, chunky gloves, even a base layer. For whatever reason, you end up out a bit later than you planned. As the sun drops and the wind picks up, your core temperature plummets. The culprit is wind chill.
Wind-chill is the enemy of the unprepared rider. When you are riding, you hit the oncoming airstream at quite a rate. If the wind is cold, not only do you have the standing temperature to deal with, but you also have to counteract the cold air hitting you. Even the hardiest of motorcyclists have had this experience.
The air temperature may be quite comfortable while standing in your leathers on a brisk winters morning. Once riding, however, the ambient temperature will feel considerably colder with the winter air hitting you at a riding speed of 60mph. Make sure you leave the house with enough layers to cope with sudden air temperature changes. You may want to keep a good quality one-piece over suit in your bag. As well as adding a layer of waterproofing, this can considerably reduce wind chill. Shivering on a bike is not only uncomfortable, but it can also be deadly. Concentration drops and let's face it, it is a miserable place to be.
Drop-in and have a chat with us about good quality weatherproof gear.
4. Winter gloves & heated grips.
If you plan to ride daily in the winter, then you should invest in the best gloves that you can afford. It is not out of the way to think about a set of over-mittens or even heated grips. On a bike, you are out in the elements. Your extremities can get cold very quickly, and as your hands are important parts of the breaking and gear changing process, and so they need protecting. If you have ever approached a roundabout or junction after an extended period of riding, only to find your hands are frozen cold, then you will understand!
Whether you are a commuter, delivery rider or hardy leisure rider, there are some perfect winter gloves on the market. For commuters, delivery riders, or couriers, you can even go as far as over-mittens. Over-mittens fit to the bike itself, creating a warm housing over the grips on your motorcycle. You can slip your gloved hand into them, and ride with an extra layer of protection against the cold.
If you are serious about winter riding, then maybe you should consider heated grips. It makes sense for both your own comfort and your safety.
5. Anti Fog Visor
Another real issue in the winter is the peril of the fogging visor. With the air temperature dropping and your warm breath hitting the inside of the visor, you can very quickly be rendered blind. When a visor fogs up, it does so very quickly. You can be left struggling to open the visor to clear it. Once you have opened the visor, riding with the icy cold wind hitting you in the face is no fun, and potentially just as dangerous.
If visor fogging is an issue for you, then you may want to invest in some anti-mist spray. Better still, use a pin-lock system. The pin-lock visor system is so good, it has been adopted as a standard for many helmet manufacturers. A pin-lock visor is like double glazing for your helmet. It stops the fogging across the area where you need to see. Millions of riders swear by them. You can read more here
While we are on the subject of visors, with the onset of darker nights and darker mornings, you are likely to notice far more scratches than you would in normal daylight. Street lighting can really show up the wear and tear on a visor. Visual distortion is a big problem. Why not treat yourself to a new visor, and get your pin-lock fitted at the same time?
If you want to find out more about winter products, you can visit us at our Plymouth workshops and showroom or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.