5 essential tips for riding your motorbike through the winter
The cold weather doesn’t have to put a stop to your biking adventures. By following these simple modifications and safety tips, you can keep riding through the winter.
As the days grow shorter and darker, many of us will be preparing to put our motorbikes into storage for the winter.
But with just a few modifications, you can still get the most out of your motorcycle during the icy season.
If you’re an intrepid biker looking to get out on the road this winter, then read on to learn how you can keep riding right through into spring.
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Protect your bike from ice damage
One of the most serious hazards that bikers face during the winter is moisture.
During the colder months, any moisture trapped in your bike will freeze, and ice can make metal brittle.
If the internal mechanisms of your bike freeze, there’s a real danger that they will jam or break.
To prevent this, you need to take precautions to help stop the spread of moisture through the bike.
A frozen drive-chain will slow your acceleration and could potentially even snap, so ensure that you clean and lubricate it regularly to stop it icing over.
The same goes for your clutch cable, so make sure to lubricate this before and after riding.
If you ride a bike with a liquid-cooling system, make sure there’s fresh antifreeze in the water tank, and that it’s fully flushed through the bike.
Fight winter dirt and corrosion
Grit, road crud and wet winter weather are a perfect recipe for a rusted bike.
To prevent this, seal the finish with a good surface-protection fluid.
If you really want to fight the dreaded rust, you’ll also have to thoroughly clean your bike after each journey.
While this is a bit of a nuisance, it’s much easier than having to replace rusted or broken parts.
It’s recommended that you wash the underside of your bike using cool water, as hot water will simply dissolve the salt crystals, meaning they could penetrate even further into the bike.
Prepare before setting off
Instead of launching straight into a journey, take the time to be thorough with your safety checks.
Use the T-CLOC method, which involves checking your tyres, controls, lights, oil levels, chassis and stands before each ride.
If it’s first time you’ve been out in a while, then let your bike run for a few minutes to get the engine warmed up before setting off.
You should also prepare an emergency repair and survival kit, and take it with you every time you ride.
Keep warm with the proper gear
Riding in the freezing cold without the correct gear is dangerous, and not much fun, either.
Beat the chill by stocking up on thermal underclothes, and layering them underneath a thick, waterproof jacket.
A pair of thermal inner glove liners will help insulate your fingers but still allow you the dexterity you need to operate your bike.
Know when to stay off the road
The key to biking during the winter is accepting that sometimes you need to take it easy.
Snowy and icy conditions are no joke: according to road safety charity Brake, stopping distances can increase ten-fold during wintry conditions.
So, plan your outings around the weather forecast, and don’t ride in snowy or windy conditions, or when the roads are icy, dark and ungritted.
Remember that you’ll need to factor in the wind chill, which will be much more severe when you’re travelling at high speeds on your bike.
While free-roaming on the open road is great fun in the summer, in the winter you should stick to a plan. You don’t want to end up lost in the cold, or accidentally taking roads that are icy or dark.
You might have to accept that scenic routes, which are less likely to be properly gritted, are off the cards until the weather thaws out.