Winter motorcycle riding tips

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winter biking
Watch the winter weather and ride safe
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Follow these winter motorcycle riding tips to be safe on the road

When it comes to choosing the best season for riding a motorcycle, most enthusiasts would agree that it's a virtual tie between spring, summer and fall, with early spring, late fall and any time it's not raining not far behind. Winter generally comes in last, for the obvious reasons that it's cold, windy and slippery. However, winter cycling can be just as much fun as the other seasons if you follow a few basic winter motorcycle riding tips.

First and foremost, recognize the fact that icy or snow covered roads are not safe for motorcycle riding. If these are the conditions outside, take a car, catch a cab or satisfy your urge to ride with a video game. If things look dry in your area, check the internet for road conditions where you might be going - it's better to be safe than surprised.

If the roads are dry and snow-free, it's time for a winter ride - with some preparation first. Cold roads and cold tires provide less traction than normal. There's nothing you can do about the street, but warming up your tires by riding slowly around the neighborhood for a few minutes will improve your traction when you need to speed up, turn sharply or brake quickly. If you must ride on ice or snow, consider purchasing knobby touring or snow tires or even studded winter tires - check local regulations first and read the owners manuals for handling guidelines.

Once your bike is ready for winter riding, it's time to focus on your body. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will affect your riding ability so it's important to have a wide wardrobe to cover lightly cold to chilly to freezing conditions.

No matter what you're wearing, minimize skin exposure by zipping up all zippers, tucking shirt sleeves into riding gloves and tucking pant legs into boots. Besides wearing a helmet, keep your face completely covered with a balaclava and your neck with a turtle neck shirt or neck warmer. Long underwear like the kind skiers wear will keep you warm and dry by wicking the sweat away from your skin.

In addition to wearing your regular riding clothes and extra layers underneath, you can get extra warmth for winter riding by wearing heated gloves, socks, vests and jackets. Some can be plugged into your bike's electrical system and others have their own battery power or chemical reaction for heat. The most important body parts to keep warm are your hands, so check and flex them frequently.

Another way to make your winter ride safer is by making frequent rest stops. A cup of hot coffee, tea or cocoa will warm up your insides while giving you a break from the extra intensity and concentration needed for winter riding. Walk around, stretch and bend to get your joints warmed up and flexible again before getting back on the bike to continue your winter ride.

Winter motorcycle riding will never replace spring, summer or fall riding, but cold weather doesn't have to keep you from enjoying a beautiful snowy ride as long as the roads are clean. The best winter motorcycle riding tips are keep warm, keep rested, keep on dry roads and keep biking!

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