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Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in the Winter


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When most people think of riding a motorcycle, they think of long, hot summer days on empty winding roads.

However, if you use your motorcycle for commuting, you might find that you need to ride when it’s cold or less than ideal riding conditions.

In any case, you’ll need to make sure your prepared. This includes:

  • Planning your trip and leaving with enough time.
  • Wearing warm enough clothing and safety gear.
  • Making sure your motorcycle is properly tuned and maintained.
  • Knowing when conditions are unsafe for riding.

Riding Your Motorcycle in the Cold

Riding a bike on icy or snow-covered roads can be extremely dangerous. Riding in freezing cold temperatures can be downright uncomfortable as well as dangerous as.

If you do have to ride in winter conditions, you’ll need to:

  • Ride much slower than you normally would.
  • Dress warm.
  • Make sure the battery is fully charged.
  • Make sure the gas and oil is topped-off and good.
  • Ensure cables and chains are in good condition and properly lubricated.
  • Make sure your tires are in good condition and ready for the snow or ice:
    • Use motorcycle snow chains, if necessary.
    • Use snow or studded tires.
  • Properly warm up the engine before starting your ride.

How Cold is Too Cold for Riding a Motorcycle?

It’s best to avoid riding a motorcycle in temperatures below freezing (32 F or 0 C).

Riding in the rain or the snow should also be avoided if you can help it.

Conditions like these make for dangerous, slippery road surfaces and highly reduced visibility.

You’ll have trouble controlling your bike and seeing hazards, and other drivers will have trouble handling their vehicles and seeing you.

Riding in the Rain

If you can’t avoid riding your motorcycle in the rain, a proper rain suit is a must.

There are some other things to remember when riding in the rain too:

  • Reduce your speed.
  • Allow yourself more space, time, and distance to stop and maneuver.
  • Make yourself as visible as possible with reflective gear and lights.
  • Use an adequate riding suit.

Motorcycle Rain Suits

If you’re riding in the rain, the cold, or windy conditions, it’s all about layer.

Good rain gear is the difference between staying safe and enjoying your ride and being miserable, cold, and counting the miles.

You want something that will keep you warm, keep you dry, and won’t get in your way.

It’s also nice if it doesn’t have to break the bank.

A good rain suit keeps you dry and warm without getting in your way, flapping in the wind, or feeling uncomfortable.

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Can You Start a Motorcycle in the Winter or Below Freezing Temperatures?

Most motorcycles – especially older bikes – are going to be more difficult to start in cold and freezing temperatures.

However, you can and should start your bike when it’s cold – at least periodically throughout the winter.

Starting and running your bike during freezing cold temperatures is part of good winterization and helps to:

  • Keeps the components properly lubricated.
  • Prevent gaskets and seals from drying out.
  • Prevent condensation and gunk from building up.
  • Charge the battery.
  • Keep the carbs clean.

Starting your motorcycle in freezing temperatures will be easier if you:

  • Heat up the engine with a block heater or electric heater.
  • Turn the engine over a few times.
  • Have a fully charged battery.

Not going to be riding much this winter, get some tips on winter motorcycle storage.

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