8 Chilled Tips For Motorcycling In Winter

    Posted by Ben Davidson about 5 months ago

    The last thing that any motorcyclist wants to cope with is an accident, but worse than that, an accident in the cold, dark and scary nights outdoors. The nights are getting longer now, which means that the roads are automatically more dangerous for vehicles on the road. For motorcyclists, this danger seems to be so much worse because you’re on a smaller vehicle and with reduced vision, it is so much harder to spot the hazards on the roads. Motorcyclists can also find it far more difficult to judge the corners and distances and plan ahead - which is essential for anyone on a motorbike to drive safely. Outside of these hazards, the darkness also brings wild animals that enjoy darting into the road, drunk drivers who forget to turn on the headlights in the car and plummeting temperatures. Those who love to ride motorcycles are subjected to extra hazards as it is, so the fact that the more rural roads at night are also deserted making it hard to find help in a crisis, the dangers are tenfold.


    Winter is fast approaching, and although it’s not quite down in the deep with the temperatures just yet, the nights are coming in and riders need to be ready. Safe driving is so much more than wearing a coat and trousers with high visibility, it’s understanding how to handle your motorcycle in the wet, dark weather. It’s being prepared for anything when you’re riding at night and it’s staying vigilant about your surroundings. A warm rider is safer than a cold one, and the right advice for motorcyclists is to stay as warm as possible on the road in the winter. A cold rider is one who cannot think straight and cannot manage themselves correctly on the road. Feeling too cold can lead to exhaustion, confusion and feeling so cold that your muscles stiffen up. Braving the cold just to ride is not courageous, it’s life or death


    When riding on a motorcycle, you need to have good reaction times and you need to feel awake enough to ride. Those who go onto the road unprepared are a danger to themselves as well as the rest of the drivers and people that are outside. There are so many things that you could be doing to keep yourself safe on the road in the dark and cold, and ideally you’re already doing them. There is a huge difference between heading out onto the road in the cold, and heading out when there is a blizzard coming down outside. If you need a little refresher about how to behave when you’re on the road riding, you’ll find seven tips to keeping safe while you ride your bike in the winter months ahead:


    Warm Underwear - It’s A Thing


    There are a lot of biker outfitters that sell a huge range of thermal underwear to be worn under riding leathers. It’ll feel thin, but it’s enough to keep you toasty warm on the road. It means that you don’t have to put on several layers of bulky clothes and restrict your movement. You need to be able to move freely on the road, especially in the face of feeling comfortable as you move your body with the bike. The last thing you need on an icy road is to be unable to move due to too many layers to keep warm. The best thing that you could do is to wear thinner layers underneath that allow you to feel toasty warm.


    Quality Winter Gear


    Bike leathers in the summer months are going to be slightly different to those in the winter months. The riding gear that you wear today can let you wear less while feeling warm, but there is still a difference. The gear that you wear has to be of great quality textile and it’s always warmer than leather. Leather jackets are good to cut the sharpness of the wind, but the constant battering of cold wind will make it stiffen up. The sleeves, ankles and neck of your clothing should be closed as close as possible to the body so that those bitter winds don’t snake in. There are companies that sell neck warmers and scarves that can be worn comfortably inside riding gear and you can find some of those here.


    Hands & Feet: The Cold They’ll Meet


    While we’re on the topic of clothing while on the road, you can’t just think about the jacket you wear or the thermal underwear that you put on for the commute to work. The thing is, if your hands and feet are still feeling the chill, you’re not going to be able to work the controls of the bike properly. Winter gloves and woollen sock are an absolute must. Your fingers and toes going numb could be an absolute life and death situation and so you need to ensure that you are taking care of your extremities. Don’t just look for the thickest gloves out there; look for the warmest ones with the best quality - price tag is just not as relevant as safety.


    Whistle Down The Wind


    One of the most dangerous things about being on the road in the winter is the wind, and not just because you could be knocked off your bike. The other thing about the wind is the chill. As much as possible, you need to be out of the wind when you ride; and if you can’t be out of the wind you can modify your bike so that you can have a more comfortable ride. Believe it or not, plastic bubble wrap down the front of your trouser thigh area and your chest can be an excellent way to insulate against the wind chill when you’re roaring at 100km/h.


    Modify It Well


    We’ve just mentioned bike modifications, and there’s a good reason for it. Spending a little money on a detachable windscreen and handguards can do wonders for your comfort when riding in the winter - especially during the night when the heat of the sun has gone away. You could spend the additional cash on seat and foot warmers to add to your bike, but do consider that this type of comfortable luxury will drain the battery of your bike a little, and you’ll need a back-up option for when this happens.


    Regular Breaks Save Lives


    You already know that when you’re tired or you’ve had a stressed out time of it at work that you should take regular breaks when you drive. To wake yourself up, stopping at a service station is a smart choice. Getting home quickly when the temperatures plummet below zero is always a risk, but a ride that takes a lot longer than you planned in the cold can really affect your fingers and toes, numbing them quickly. This is the worst thing that could happen, considering that you control the bike with your hands and feet. Stop often, drink warm drinks and find public bathrooms that have heaters to warm up in.


    Mind Your Diet


    A big part of comfort when you’re riding in the winter is ensuring that you have a metabolism that is moving. A well-balanced and healthy diet will keep you warm, because your body will heat right up to burn the calories. If you slow down on your eating, you’re going to shiver more with the cold to try and warm up. This is going to affect your ability to drive safely and put you in danger when you’re on the road. Driving in the cold is difficult enough as it is, without you shivering your way into a road traffic accident.


    Rain, Rain, Go Away


    Getting wet when riding is an inevitability. Without the protection of the box of a car, you’re going to get wet. Instead of fretting about hydroplaning in the cold, think about how the fine mist of rain is going to affect you and soak you to the skin. Spraying your equipment and gear with water repellant and wearing waterproof gear can make a massive difference to how much the rain affects you while you ride. You need to be as safe and as comfortable as possible while you’re on the road in the winter, and being dry is a big part of that. As much as possible, you should avoid riding in the rain when it’s minus temperatures outside; if it’s not possible to avoid it, then suit up and ride safely.


    Winter brings inclement weather, icy and slippery roads and a lot of freezing rain. Your preparation should be beginning in the fall and going from there. Being as safe as possible on the road isn’t just about you; it’s about your interaction with other drivers and pedestrians, too. The safer you ensure that you are, the better experience you get when you’re driving home. Be safe this winter; wear your gear well and prep your bike properly.


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