The sun is setting earlier, the leaves are on the road and there's a definite chill creeping into the air - yes, winter is on the way!
The festive months are a time that many motorcyclists put their vehicles in storage. It’s cold, it’s wet, and worst of all the roads are covered in corrosive salt. Despite all this, with the right know how and some preparation, winter can still be a great and rewarding time to ride, with some unique and breath-taking vistas to take in and much quieter roads for the keen explorer. Here are a few ways you can prepare to get the most out of winter riding and make sure things go smoothly.
1. HEATED GRIPS
If you’re an all-year motorcycle commuter (we salute you) then heated grips are a must. Anyone who has ever got back from a day’s riding with numb fingers knows the unquestionable value of warm grips, and on winter days the hotter the grips the better. Not only can cold hands be uncomfortable, they can also be dangerous, making your fine motor controls unpredictable and potentially lowering your ability to control your bike. An integrated set of controls is very useful, allowing you to modify heat levels on the move without taking your eye off the road.
If you're not confident then getting a professional to fit your heated grips during a service can save time and hassle
2. WARM, GOOD QUALITY GEAR
When wind chill is taken into consideration, temperatures while riding can go sub zero very quickly. Getting wet makes the cold significantly worse, so a good set of fully waterproof riding gear is nothing but mandatory. Make sure to layer up to really keep the cold out. A warm base layer and a neck warmer go a long way creating a seal to keep the chill off. If you are going to splash out on anything, splash out on your gloves and your jacket, you will never regret having warm hands or still being dry by the time others are soaked through. Try to avoid dark clothing if you can and make sure you have one or two items that are reflective.
Quality gear is the barrier between you and the elements
3. TAKE IT SLOWER AND KNOW THE ROAD
The road gets a lot slipper when the cold sets in, and those spots that were a minor hazard in summer can become outright dangerous in winter. Use your knowledge of the road and think about where you may want to take it easy, regardless of how many times you have ridden it safely. If you’re out exploring new routes then practice caution and keep an eye on the quality of the road and any dirt and debris that is accumulating. Remember that new pot holes and hazards often form in winter, and always assume wet leaves are out to get you.
Trails you know well can become unpredictable and hazardous in the winter
4. CLEAN REGULARLY
Spraying off the road salt will make the corrosion much easier to manage. It’s good practice in winter to spray your bike down after every ride if possible. We recommend using ACF-50 Anti Corrosion Spray on your bike to keep rust and corrosion away - originally designed for aviation, this is one of the best products out there for keeping your bike in order during the winter months. Lubing the chain well and often is also vital, maintenance sprays from tru-tension are some of the best on the market. When it comes to maintenance, it’s also a good idea to look after your tyres in winter, as poor treads and tyre pressure can cause road grip to suffer leading to a potential slip.
ACF-50 is a lifesaver and will keep your bike corrosion free if applied regularly
5. MAINTAIN YOUR BATTERY
Your battery will take a beating during the winter. Headlights will be in use far more often and as you’ll need heated grips and other amenities your power draw is going to increase quite a bit on the average ride. Add on top of that the fact that the cold has a negative effect on the chemical reaction in your battery and you have a recipe for low charge. A trickle charger is a great investment, especially if the bike will not be running regularly. If you are using one of our onboard charging solutions that wires directly to the battery, we recommend disconnecting it if the bike goes into storage. This will minimise any potential power draw and make sure the bike is ready to go when you decide to put it back into action.
If your bike is going into storage remember to unhook any wired chargers or attach a trickle charger to keep your battery topped up over the winter
Despite some of the downsides, the upsides of getting out there and embracing the cold can be well worth the discomfort. With some preparation and common sense, you can continue to enjoy riding throughout the year and experience the countryside in all its wintery splendour. If you plan to keep exploring, why not consider using one of our motorcycle mounting kits to use your smartphone for GPS and grabbing some of those festive snaps.
Have a good off-season this year and ride safely!
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