One of the unwritten rules for every good rider is that it’s never a bad time to go out and enjoy two-wheeled driving, even in winter. Riding a motorcycle in winter can be a challenging endeavor, requiring heightened caution on the road. However, it should not deter you from taking your bike out of the garage during these months.
Even in the coldest conditions, on rainy days, or after snowfall, your motorcycle can still be your most faithful companion. However, you’ll need to apply some basic tips to ensure your safety and anticipate what you might encounter on the road.
For these reasons, and considering we are in the coldest months of the year, in this post, we want to share some of the most suitable tips that we at REVV Ultimate Bike Tours apply when preparing for a motorcycle trip in winter. We’ll teach you how to face the typical challenges of this time of year and prepare thoroughly so that nothing surprises you while riding.
Equip Yourself Properly for Winter
The first step for safe motorcycle riding in winter is to have the right gear to maximize safety. Make sure you have a good motorcycle jacket and pants that are waterproof and thermal, so you can maintain your body temperature and avoid getting wet from the rain.
Equip yourself with a good pair of gloves, which we recommend to be thermal on the inside and waterproof on the outside, and some good insulated boots. Additionally, if you plan to travel through roads, mountain passes, or intend to spend several hours riding in snowy areas, we also recommend using thermal clothing under the specific motorcycle gear and a neck warmer or balaclava to keep warm. Also, consider using additional cold protection such as installing handguards on the handlebars, a tall windshield to protect you from the wind, or even hand warmers to keep your extremities warm for better comfort and concentration.
Finally, pay attention to the helmet and consider using a different one for winter that meets these characteristics: it should be a full-face helmet, with a transparent visor for better visibility, and an anti-fog system. You can also consider installing a Pinlock on the inside of the visor, a film that prevents fogging by creating an air chamber between the inside of the helmet and the visor itself.
Use the Right Tires on Your Motorcycle
One of the most important safety elements during driving is the only part of your motorcycle that is in direct and constant contact with the road: the tires. Start by checking their condition and pressure constantly, always before hitting the road, and install tires specifically designed for winter conditions.
Also, keep in mind that tires take some time to reach the temperature that allows them to work and grip correctly. Therefore, pay special attention when driving on cold and wet roads. Check the optimal operating temperatures of your tires and drive gently during the first 15 minutes until they reach their temperature.
Similarly, try to avoid sport tires in winter, as they tend to have less grip and struggle to reach the optimal working temperature when temperatures are low. Regardless, keep in mind that even the best tires cannot prevent all dangers on a winter road; you need to pay attention to their behavior, especially in areas where the road is in shadow, wet, very cold, or shiny, as this may indicate slippery or icy ground.
Include Some Form of Ice and Snow Protection
It’s clear that during winter, bad weather, low temperatures, and adverse weather conditions such as rain, ice, or snow are the main elements that will affect the safety of your driving. In this season, roads can become slippery, so we recommend always carrying a liquid chain that you can apply to your tires.
These liquid chain sprays are perfect for increasing wheel grip on icy or snowy surfaces, and although they are usually formulated for short trips, they are quite effective and can get you out of trouble. Simply spray the liquid on the tires to create a viscous film that allows you to traction the wheels with better grip.
Similarly, when you encounter roads with ice or snow, try to reduce speed, increase the safety distance with other vehicles, avoid sudden braking, and make gentle turns. Also, keep in mind that on some roads, salt is spread to prevent the formation of ice, an element that will decrease your grip, which can be very dangerous on curved stretches and can be corrosive to your motorcycle components. Clean it thoroughly after passing through a road where you have detected salt.
Install an Efficient Lighting System
During winter, when daylight hours are significantly reduced, having an efficient lighting system is extremely important, both to see clearly and to allow other drivers to distinguish you easily. Make sure that all the lights on your motorcycle work correctly by checking them before hitting the road.
Additionally, it’s an excellent idea to add auxiliary lights to improve your visibility while driving, for example, with fog lights or auxiliary headlights that can help you see better at night. Similarly, we recommend that you also increase your visibility by using light-colored garments with fluorescent bands or brightly colored helmets so that other drivers can identify you quickly.
Perform More Frequent Maintenance on the Motorcycle
The most useful advice you can apply for a more comfortable and safe ride in winter is to perform more frequent maintenance on your motorcycle. Continuously check the condition of the tires, brakes, lights, and electrical system, and check the oil and antifreeze levels before heading out.
Clean and grease the chain and make sure both the battery and starter motor work correctly to ensure optimal performance under any condition. Similarly, try to start and use the motorcycle at least a couple of times a week and always leave the gas tank full to prevent moisture from entering and causing rust.
Check the Weather Conditions and Plan the Route in Advance
Before hitting the road, always check what the weather conditions will be for your journey and plan your route based on them. You can install an application like Windy and activate notifications on your mobile to keep you informed of weather warnings that you should consider, such as snowfall or gusts of wind.
Likewise, it’s also advisable to dedicate time to know and study the route you are going to take so you can avoid difficult or ice-prone roads and have a clear idea of alternative routes you could take if you encounter a complex situation. Consider the sunrise and sunset times to make the most of your driving days and avoid shaded sections that may accumulate ice for longer.
Defensive and Preventive Driving
Finally, the last piece of advice for riding a motorcycle in winter is to practice defensive and preventive driving. This means being fully aware of your surroundings, anticipating dangers, and maintaining a maximum concentration attitude throughout the journey. Be prepared to react quickly and effectively to avoid dangerous situations and try to stay calm to make good decisions.
Always remember that it’s a wise decision to stop driving when weather conditions are too adverse or when you feel not entirely secure while driving. It’s better to take a break and arrive later than trying to reach your destination risking your own safety. Similarly, during winter, try to reduce speed, adapting it to road and weather conditions, drive smoothly without leaning too much on curves, and avoid zigzagging through traffic, as this can increase the chances of a fall.
By applying all these tips, we are confident that you can face the challenge of riding a motorcycle in winter safely and enjoy the excitement of the roads even in the coldest time of the year, with ice, snow, and rain. Prepare in advance, stay safe while driving, and don’t be afraid to make the most of winter on two wheels.