Road trippin’ isn’t only for the summer months. There might be a chill in the air but that shouldn’t keep you off your motorcycle. With these hot tips for cool rides, you’ll be safe and toasty as you cruise in the cool.
Get that fire in the tyres
Cold weather means cold tyres, and cold tyres mean limited traction on the road. While just putting wheel to road will help increase the heat, there’s a trick to get the best level of warmth into them. Many riders sway back and forth like they’re on a hot lap at MotoGP but put simply, it’s a waste of time.
Instead, to get those tyres fired up, accelerate and decelerate quickly for a bit. Go hard on brakes, then hard on the throttle. This will put heat in tyres quicker. Be careful you do this in a safe environment with plenty of space in front and behind you.
Trying to save on tyres is about as dopey as going scrooge McDuck on the quality of your helmet. Plenty of tread is your best insurance for safe winter riding. It may rain or, depending where in the country you are, even snow, and you’ll need to channel that water more than ever on wet roads which are cold.
Check your pressure in cold weather too – with a gauge, not just your eyes. Cold temperatures cause tyre pressures to drop because, well, science.
Prep your bike
If your motorbike is water-cooled and you’re heading into a snowy climate, make sure the antifreeze is clean. Using a thinner oil during winter can improve your bike’s performance on the road, so if you live in a consistently cold area, or you’re going on an alpine adventure, you might like to do an oil change with the season. Finally, regularly check your lights and make sure they: a) work and b) are squeaky clean.
Be road smart
While riding in the winter, increase your visibility and space. You can increase your visibility by looking further down the road. This is particularly critical at this time of year when traction is limited from the frosty bitumen. Our rule of thumb is always look 15 seconds ahead.
As for following distance, open it right up. Maintain at least three seconds of space in front of you. Pair this with your newly increased visibility and you’ll be able to react to hazards on the road far earlier.
Being exposed to cold temperatures and increased wind-chill means if you’re not suited up in the right gear, you run the risk of hypothermia. The proper gear will not only keep you warm and alert, it’s going to keep you safe and will allow you the freedom of movement you need for a comfortable ride.
As always with gear quality, you get what you pay for, so don’t go cheap. But good quality textile winter gear is usually going to serve you better than leather which will go cold and stiff with the chill. Grab yourself a good pair of winter wind-proof gloves and make sure you can close off your wrists, ankles and neck to keep any of that wind sneaking in under your jacket and pants. Finally, layering underneath in good quality fabrics like wool will generate heat next to your body.
Final tip: you may have heard that stuffing newspaper between your jacket and your under- layers will help to keep the wind out. We suggest going one better and trying a bubble wrap lining.
There’s no reason you or your motorcycle should hibernate over the colder months. Put away your ego, rug up and be smart on the roads.