Motorcycling in the winter
Many bikers put their machines away until spring as soon as it gets chilly in autumn. However, if you prepare properly, you can consider staying on two wheels for most of the winter.
Is your journey really necessary?
We can't recommend that you should be riding a motorcycle in snow and ice as it can be really dangerous. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and if possible, keep your motorcycle at home if there's even a threat of such weather.
Make sure your motorbike is in good working condition:
- Give your tyres a proper check, the tread should be no less than 2mm in winter and make sure the pressure is correct.
- Check your battery is fully charged.
- Keep your electrical connections fully lubricated with an anti-corrosion product.
- Top up your front and rear brake fluid and check your brake pads.
- Wear high visibility waterproof clothing during the day and reflective waterproof clothing is essential for travelling in the dark.
Keep your distance
Increase the safe distance between you and the vehicles in front. Not only will stopping take longer, you need to beware of pockets of snow and ice breaking loose and landing right in front of you.
See clearly ahead
Dip your headlights to help you see further ahead as full beam dazzles other road users. If the sun is low, it is hard to see ahead so slow down and keep your eyes shaded, ideally using a visor helmet. Look further ahead along the road so you can identify potential hazards well in advance.
Investing in specialist winter riding gear can make a great difference to your warmth and comfort. One-piece leathers are best as they offer less opportunity for the icy wind to find a way in. If these are too expensive, make sure your layers overlap well.
The priority has to be a quality pair of waterproof, thermally efficient gloves to keep your hands warm and dry as you ride.
Remember that the faster you ride the more the relative wind speed increases and the temperature drops. Increase your body temperature by exercising your muscles – move one leg after the other, one arm then the other, shake your wrists and arms at traffic lights. Make sure you stop regularly to move about and get warm.
Don't be tempted to speed up or miss a break as you reach the end of your journey. This is when you are most likely to be tired and lose concentration.