Riding in winter can be fun if you know what you’re doing and keep your bike in check. Here’s our top ten tips and common-sense guide to riding through winter. And if there’s one you can’t wait to share, just let us know by commenting on the bottom of the story.
1 – Make sure your bike is up to it. Cold mornings will take it out of your battery more than ever so if you’re not using your bike every day use a trickle charger like an Optimate to keep the battery at its peak.
2 - Check your tyres and make sure they’re at recommended pressures and have enough tread. Tyres will need decent tread to cut though water more than ever.
3 – Make sure lights are up to it, and if necessary upgrade your headlamp bulbs to some of the new generation HID-style bulbs. You’ll be amazed what a difference they make.
4 – Keep everything well lubed, and your chain covered in chain wax or lube. Salt will eat through your chain if it's not well protected. Also, we’d recommend rinsing your bike down with cold water after every ride, and then covering with a spray like ACF50, or even good old WD-40 or similar to protect metallic parts.
5 – Make sure you’re wrapped up warm. Layers are best as you can always add one more, or take one off if you’re too warm. It amazes me how many people still try to ride in winter in leather. Leave leather for the summer, for the winter it’s all about textiles. You can ride through any weather, you don’t have to put waterproofs on when it rains as most are Gore-Tex or similar, and they keep the wind out. It’s the same for gloves. Winter gloves may not be stylish, but they make a massive difference. And if you can stretch to it get yourself some heated kit, you will be amazed, and look like the kid of the eighties Ready Brek adverts in your head at least!
6 – When it’s really cold, fit bar muffs. There’s a reason couriers use them and the wind they take off your hands will amaze you. If that’s a step too far then buy some motocross-style hand guards from your local shop and fit them. Removing the wind from your hands will make a huge difference. And if your budget is really tight, make some using plastic bottles and zip ties, just make sure they clear all the controls like clutch and brake.
7- Keep your visor from demisting. Visors have moved on a long way in the last ten years but if you can’t stretch to one of the fancy double-skinned style race visors, then get yourself to a visor insert. If that’s too much then cleaning your visor with good old-fashioned fairy liquid works a treat.
8 – Ride within your limits. If you imagine your tyres will never get warm then you’ll always ride cautiously and well within you limits and the limits of adhesion. Give more distance to cars in front as stopping distances will grow when the road is wet and cold.
9- Keep your headlight and rear lights clean. If you’ve got a faired bike, stuff a cleaning cloth on the inside of your screen to regularly clean your lights.
10 – Use common sense. In my experience, riding in snow or ice may look heroic but it rarely ends up well. Know your own limits and jump in a car if it’s too bad.
If that’s not enough advice for you, we asked our Facebook followers to tell us their favourite tips for prepping their bike for riding through winter. Apart from plenty of people saying ‘just keep riding’, here’s some of the best tips:
Darren Clarke: ride it everyday.. clean it once a week. stop corrosion by using GT85..
Ken Andrews: Just ride it when I can - wash salt off straight away, and pray...
Kathy Daniel: Why miss those lovely crisp bright winter rides, turn on the heated grips and ride:-)
Lee Bisby: Dropping the oil, cleaning the air filter, oiling the chain ready for the next outing and hoping for some snow in the peaks......cos it's all about enduro riding :-)
Simon Kyprianou: got new battery so hope for a trouble free winter :D
Mick Howe: Just told my blade ........ It's gonna get cold out there !
Mark Penrice: Might give it a good rub down and some ACF 50 and/or wax ... maybe put a new front tyre on (and go for a long ride to scrub off the gunk) ... break out the wire ties and re-attach the milk bottle hand protectors ... upgrade the headlight bulb...