5 Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in the Winter

With winter just around the corner, which means that many motorcyclists are gearing up to store their bikes for the season. But what if you don’t want to wait until springtime to tear up the roads again? In that case, here are five tips for riding your motorcycle in the winter.  

1. It’s important to be mentally prepared for riding in the winter

A motorcyclist rides along the road with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop during a winter evening in Srinagar. Weather across the Srinagar city has improved after Kashmir received fresh snowfall
A motorcyclist rides along the road with snow-clad mountains in the backdrop during a winter evening in Srinagar. Weather across the Srinagar city has improved after Kashmir received fresh snowfall. | (Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

If you think you get cold when riding during the Fall season, simple physics can assure you that riding in the wintertime will be a lot colder. Depending on where you live, the cold air, sleet, and snow will have major effects on your bike and body. So it’s important to be mentally prepared for winter riding even before setting two wheels on the ground.

Cardo Systems notes that riding during the wintertime can bring about extremely cold chills that can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. Also, the rubber on your bike’s tires will shrink from the cold temperatures, which decreases their ability to grip the road. Of course, driving on them will warm them up, however, they will shrink again as they cool down at a stop.

Additionally, the freezing cold air can cause your joints and muscles to lose dexterity making it harder to control the bike. Knowing all of this can keep you mentally prepared for riding in the winter, but of course, being geared up properly is equally as important.

2. Gear up for the weather

A motorcycle rider rides on a snowy street.
A motorcycle rider rides on a snowy street. | (Saqib Majeed/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

When it comes to winter riding, your best bet is to wear multiple layers to keep you warm. Ride Apart notes that having a base layer, like a thermal shirt; a mid-layer, like an insulated jacket’ and an outer layer, like a much thicker jacket, is ideal. Additionally, wearing a good set of winter gloves and boots will help, too. As will a good set of wool socks.

If you really want to go the extra mile, then you can get a set of hand warmers to keep your hands toasty and perhaps a heated seat to keep your buns warm. Additionally, wearing a proper-fitting helmet is of the utmost importance.

3. Warm up your tires before taking a ride

If you do plan on braving the elements and riding during the winter, then be sure to warm up the bike’s tires beforehand. There are a few different techniques that bikers use to get some heat in the tires, however, even just riding around the neighborhood for a few minutes before setting out can help.

Also, remember to give yourself more distance from the car in front of you as it can take longer for your bike to stop in the wintertime. Ultimately, it should go without saying that if you don’t feel confident ride due to the weather, then don’t. It’s never worth the risk.

4. Ride in a group for safety in numbers

 Motorcycle riders compete in the Valery Chkalov Cup motocross race at an off-road circuit in the town of Mytishchi. Sergei Savostyanov/TASS
Motorcycle riders compete in the Valery Chkalov Cup motocross race at an off-road circuit in the town of Mytishchi. Sergei Savostyanov/TASS | (Sergei Savostyanov\TASS via Getty Images)

You might be used to riding with your friends during the summertime. After all, there’s no better feeling than hitting the open road with a bunch of buddies that you can trust. The same notion applies to the wintertime as well.

If possible, ride your motorcycle with a group of friends during the winter months. Not only can it bring out that sense of comradery, but it can also mean a safer ride should something bad happen. In case of an emergency, you’ll be glad that you have people around you to help as opposed to riding on your own.

5. Keep your motorcycle maintained

A participant prepares his vehicle for the start of a men's class 500 race in the first final of the Russian Ice Speedway Cup at a motorcycle racing track of the Russian Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Navy (DOSAAF).
A participant prepares his vehicle for the start of a men’s class 500 race in the first final of the Russian Ice Speedway Cup at a motorcycle racing track of the Russian Volunteer Society for Cooperation with the Army, Aviation, and Navy (DOSAAF). | (Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images)

Lastly, it’s always important to keep your bike properly maintained before and after a winter ride. If you live an area where road salt is used to clear the roads, then you’ll want to wash your bike as soon as possible. That road salt is corrosive to both bikes and cars.

You’ll also want to ensure that you have the proper tires for winter riding. A good pair of all-season tires should do the trick, but remember to stay away from using Summer tires. Keeping them inflated properly will help you stay safe as well, so be sure to check the tire pressures regularly.

Winter riding is risky, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unsafe

Riding your motorcycle during the wintertime can be risky. The colder air temperatures, potential snowfall, and wet pavement can all cause some major issues and accidents if you’re not careful. By following these tips, you can ensure that you’ll be as safe as possible when setting out on the open, and really cold, road.

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