Winter Motorcycle Riding Guide
Winter motorcycle rides can be a beautiful way to extend your riding season and enjoy the outdoors during the colder months. Winter rides might require extra preparation steps, but it can be well worth it when you get to enjoy a crisp ride through the open air. Check out these tips from Gobi Heat for getting the most out of your winter motorcycle riding season:
Easy motorcycle modifications
Wind chill is the main factor that makes you feel cold on a winter ride, but a few easy modifications to your motorcycle can help protect your body from the wind. A larger windshield can protect your body from the wind, keeping your core temperature from dropping too much. You can also add additional handguards onto your handlebars to block your hands from the wind and help keep your fingers from freezing. These modifications are easy to add to your bike and make a huge difference in extending your riding season.
Layer up right
First things first, you have to prepare for cold temperatures on the road. Layering is the key to staying warm and dry during winter motorcycle rides. Start with a moisture wicking base layer, including a top and bottom, to keep your core warm. Don’t forget to include socks that have a wool fabric to keep your toes warm and dry.
For your top layer, add a heated jacket to keep you warm without adding bulk while riding. An adjustable heated jacket is a good way to prepare for different types of weather without needing to carry extra clothing with you. Finally, finish off your layers with a pair of motorcycle gloves made especially for winter riding. Keeping your hands warm is critical when you’re on the road, so don’t skimp out on finding a pair of gloves that are super comfortable and warm.
Check your tires
Tires are important to staying safe on the road all the time, but especially in the winter, so you should make sure yours are in good shape before you head out on a ride. Winter isn’t the time to neglect your bike maintenance, so make sure your tires are fresh with a good tread.
Roads are slicker than usual in the winter and cold tires offer even less grip on the road surface during the winter months. Remember to use caution when braking, accelerating and leaning at the beginning of a ride before your tires are warmed up.
Salted roads, wet weather and large snow plows can all leave roads in pretty rough shape, so you should adjust your riding accordingly. Take things slower than you normally would and give yourself extra following distance to give yourself extra time to react to any potholes or cracks in the road. Don’t be in a rush to get to your destination and stay alert to any hazards on the road to keep yourself safe.
Watch the forecast
A clear, crisp winter day is perfect for taking the bike out for a spin, but if there is any precipitation in the forecast don’t hesitate to hit pause on your ride. A few flakes can quickly turn into a whiteout and you don’t want to be out on the road when that happens. Don’t be afraid to cut a ride short if the weather starts to turn and stick to routes you’re familiar with so you don’t end up lost when the snow starts to fly. Check out our list of some easy routes around Sturgis that are perfect for a winter day out on the road.
Check in with yourself
Staying out in the cold for too long can make you feel tired, groggy and slow down your reactions, all things you want to avoid while you’re riding. Keeping yourself warm uses up a lot of energy and you might find yourself feeling drained faster than usual on a ride. For this reason you should keep your winter rides short or take breaks to get out of the cold and warm up. Keep your mind and body sharp to stay safe on the road and enjoy your ride to the fullest without freezing. Don’t forget you can also get dehydrated easily in the cold, so keep up with your fluids even in the cold.
With the right preparation, winter rides can be a great way to get even more use out of your bike. Luckily with a relatively mild winter this year in South Dakota, there have been plenty of opportunities to get some extra rides outside of the usual riding season. Keep these tips in mind to enjoy some great winter motorcycle riding this year.
Have your own cold weather riding tips? Leave them in the comments below!
About the Author:
Megan Rosa is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast who has loved riding since she first got to ride on the back of her dad’s bike as a little girl. In her free time, she also enjoys doing yoga and traveling across the country.