You have that itch to get out and ride, but the weather isn’t cooperating. Maybe the only transportation option is your motorcycle. Riding in the cold can be done, but it needs to be done safely.
Understanding the toll the body will take in frigid conditions is important. A cold winter chill can lead to extreme fatigue and even fatal consequences. It is not recommended to ride in the cold, but here are a few tips to do it safely:
- Wind is not your friend, remember that wind chill will effectively drop the temperature to frostbite conditions in as fast as 30 minutes on a 40 degree day (Of course a windshield is the best protection).
- Protect yourself against wind with wind resistant clothing and a full face mask (leather is a great choice for torso and leg protection).
- Make sure to keep your core temperature up.
- Heated clothing is great way to keep warm (they plug into an auxiliary port on the motorcycle, but remember to unplug before getting off).
- Ride with multiple layers (thermals, sweats, fleece, vests and outer wear). Moisture wicking undergarments will help remove any moisture when not riding with all the layers.
- Cover every part of your body.
Helmets can be lined with insulation to keep your head warmer and fill gaps where air can leak. If riding with an open face helmet, a leather bandana or ski mask can be used to keep the wind off your face.
A jacket with a belt will keep wind from shooting up your back. Sleeves should also be buttoned or zippered tight against gloves. Hand and foot fatigue are usually the hardest part about riding in the cold. Since limbs are mostly unprotected they tend to feel the chill first. Good gloves and even liners will keep a rider’s hands comfortable. Warm socks with tall boots will keep the feet and ankles cozy. Pants should also be tight around the boot. A one piece riding suit is one of the best solutions since air cannot pass through.
If it becomes unexpectedly cold, stop riding and get somewhere warm. Drinking something hot is a good way to bring up the core temperature. Riding while fatigued can lead to a possibly fatal accident. Drinking alcohol may have a warming effect, but it impairs judgement while riding, so it is best to never drink and ride.
Snow and ice are road hazards that may occur in cold conditions. Both will create a very slick surface which will be difficult to control the motorcycle over, so it is best to try and avoid riding in these conditions whenever possible. If you find yourself over ice, power through and do not try to brake on top of it. It can cause the motorcycle to spin or go down. Ride away from areas of the road where water can puddle and freeze. Avoid heavily salted roads as they can cause corrosion to the motorcycle and create visual obstructions on a windshield or helmet. Ride warm and ride safely.