We’re lucky here in Texas that the winter weather never gets too bad. The temps might drop into the 30s and we might get some ice on the roads, but we still get plenty of that brassy Texas sunshine. That said, the season does change enough that it makes riding a motorcycle a little more exciting. So how do you stay rubber side down and hair side up while riding in winter? The key is to follow a few of these winter riding tips from Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles.
Take it Slow
This should be an obvious one, but it’s something that even car drivers seem to forget when the weather starts to get foul. The faster you go, the less amount of time you have to react to changes in driving conditions, especially when there’s ice or water on the roads. Make sure that you’re going easy on the throttle, braking more gently, and giving yourself more time and room for breaking and turning. Build extra time into your travel schedule if you plan on riding in the winter. You don’t want to rush yourself and compromise your safety.
Wear the Right Gear
More than just your boots, armor, and helmet, winter riding requires some extra gear in order to stay safe, and more importantly, warm.
If you’re usually a half or three-quarter helmet wearer, we suggest picking up a full-face helmet. Not only does this do a better job of protecting your face in the event of an accident, but it also does a better job of directing those frigid winter winds away from your face. We’re also fans of heavy-duty riding gear that has a layer of insulation in it to help keep you warm. If you’re still struggling to stay warm on your ride, you might invest in some heated gear. Most brands now offer heated gear that can be plugged directly into your bike’s electric system and gently warms you while you ride. Heated grips are another great option.
Take a Look at Your Tires
You should give your tires a quick inspection every time you ride, but it’s especially important during winter riding. The fact is, worn out or poor quality tires on slick roads are just a recipe for disaster. Ideally, you should have all-weather, or winter-specific tires. If that’s not an option for you, at the very least, your tires should be fairly new and have about 50% tread life left on them.
Set Up a Support Network Now
During the spring, summer, and fall, most riders are fairly self-sufficient. If your bike breaks down, you can limp it home using the tool kit you keep under the seat. But accidents are much more common in winter, largely due to the lack of traction on the roads.
We suggest finding a local motorcycle-specific towing service and saving their number in your phone. Should you find yourself handlebar-deep in a snowbank, skittering across icy roads, or if the layer of frost on your engine covers is causing you concern, it’s probably a good sign that you and your motorcycle should get a ride back home to your heated garage.
Watch the Roads
Like our advice to take it slow, this should be a “no duh” idea, but we always hear at least one story a season of a rider getting caught out on an icy road and laying their bike down. Be cognizant of the riding conditions. Features like tar snakes are fearsome enough during the summer, can be downright deadly in winter. Icy roads are to be avoided at all possible, and de-icers like salt and mag chloride are just as bad for the traction of your tires as the ice itself.
Don’t Be Afraid to Stay Home
Look, there are gonna be winter days where it’s just not safe to ride your motorcycle. If the roads are icy, it’s snowing, and there’s a cold wind sweeping along, maybe, just maybe, leave the bike in the garage and catch a ride in a friend’s car. It’s not as fun and it ruins your persona as the “ride or die” type, but you stay safe so you can ride again when the weather gets nicer. You can always compromise and wear your leather riding jacket out to maintain that rider’s edge.