Tips to prepare for winter motorcycling
- on December 31, 2019
Getting caught in an unexpected cool weather while riding is one thing, but if you actively plan to avoid winter perils and ride on through to the new year, you’d better prepare. Winter motorcycle riding gear falls into the category of ‘better to have and not use than not have it and need it.’ For instance, Winter riding gear may seem like the type of extra luxury you’ll never need, but the truth is, once you have it and use it, you’ll never go back to a life without. From the helmet and top layers to body hugging warm base layers, these are some of the essentials you’ll want when you ride through the coldest months of the year.
Remember Cold weather + Cold tyres = Less Traction
Tyres, under normal conditions, heat up from use after you ride a bit, resulting in tighter traction and enabling you to control the machine like a champ. In winter riding, you can assume the heat gathered by the tyre from your trip is gone after as much as a 60-second stop, and you're almost starting from scratch. Keep a check on your tyres pressure in cold weather more often in winter, too, and use a gauge, not your eyes.
Heated grips or gloves can be a life saver
Painfully cold, numb fingers are not a good sign of a winter motorcyclist. A quality winter motorcycle riding gear can be your saviour in such harsh conditions. Heated grips or heated gloves can be a godsend, and once you’ve tried them, you’re unlikely ever to not use them. Some motorcycle manufacturers fit them as standard or offer them as accessories, but if you’re fitting aftermarket items yourself, make sure they’re properly wired in so you don’t kill your battery or set fire to something while riding.
If you don’t want to play around with the electrical route, buy the best winter gloves you can afford. Make sure they’re not so bulky that you can’t operate the controls properly, and ensure you can get a good seal around your jacket’s cuffs. Off-road-style hand guards also looks quite cool and keep the worst of the wind chill off.
Throttle Consistency is important
Winter riding tests your endurance and consistency too. If your motorcycle has switchable traction control, you can sit back and let your ECU do all the work on slippery roads. For the rest of us, good throttle consistency is vital.
Snap the throttle open and you’re likely to break traction; instead, wind it on progressively, with your throttle position always matching engine revs. There should be a direct correlation between throttle position and engine response. On big motorcycles especially, do not be tempted to crack the throttle wide open and wait for the revs to catch up – if the rear wheel starts to spin it will continue to do so and even as you’re rolling the throttle off. It might only be for a fraction of a second but that could be enough to put you on your ear.
It’s not about layers, it’s about the right layer
Take care of what you wear as your winter motorcycle riding gear. Thin and body-hugging thermal inners are good in keeping your body warm. They are thin and thus will not make you uncomfortable about the additional layer of garments. It is also important to make sure that the outer layer of your clothing is water resistant or if not then you can wear a rain/wind sheeter on top of your riding jacket and pant (Individually)