While a lot of riders put their bikes away for the winter, there are a few hearty souls who ride all year long, rain or shine, warm or cold. If you’re going to do some winter motorcycle riding, make sure you have the proper gear by reading the article below. I’m also going to share some emergency tips for those times when you’re surprised by the crazy Colorado winter.
Winter motorcycle riding gear: What you need
Wait! You thought the first thing on the list would be a coat? No siree. The most important thing you need is insurance. A lot of people turn their motorcycle insurance off in the winter and then a gorgeous day hits in January and they get their bike out. This is probably the single most dangerous thing you can do. If you get in an accident, everything you own is in jeopardy. Whether you cause it or not, an accident while riding without insurance can devastate you financially. So, make sure you have insurance for your motorcycle. If you have any questions at all about the kind of insurance you need, don’t hesitate to call us.
One of the most vulnerable areas of your body when you’re riding a motorcycle in winter is your hands. Here are some tips for keeping your hands warm when winter motorcycle riding.
If you’re wearing leather gloves (not synthetic), put your hands right onto the cylinder head (not the exhaust pipe!). When you’re at a red light, it’s easy to speedily warm your fingers up this way.
Get heated hand grips. Some manufacturers provide these for their machines – if so, it is probably the best way to go. Aftermarket companies make various types of heated foil tape that runs underneath your grips and attaches to the bike’s electrical system – these don’t work as well as the manufacturer’s products and are not as reliable, but are way cheaper. Both are a nice way to keep your hands comfortable when riding in cold temperatures.
If you’re on an adventure bike, you can put hand guards on your bike. These guards are intended to protect your hands from brush and trees that you ride through, but they also make great windbreaks.
In an emergency: Stop at a grocery store and buy two gallons of milk. Pour the milk out and cut a slit as shown in this photo. Slide the jugs onto your handles and stick your hands inside. It’s not pretty but it will get you home! (This is a NSFW video that shows these in more detail.)
Consider a heated jacket. These are the slickest things ever. They plug into your bike’s electrical system and heat up! But make sure your bike has enough power to run the jacket. You don’t want to kill your bike to heat your jacket… unless things are really dire!
Make sure your riding jacket is truly wind and waterproof. It needs a flap covering the zipper and it must zip all the way up to your chin. (Don’t buy a v-neck “windproof” jacket because you think it’s cute. It won’t be windproof!)
When trying a jacket on at the shop, make sure you sit on your bike and reach for your handgrips. If a jacket is restricting your movement, don’t get it.
You should also look for vents in a cold-weather jacket. If you get too warm, it’s nice to be able to open up a vent for a cool breeze. (Tip: I put key rings on all my coat zippers so that I can grab them easily with gloves on.)
In an emergency: Stop at a convenience store and get a big newspaper. Shove it down the front of your jacket for an extra layer of insulation.
Some motorcycles have heated seats. If you’re buying a new bike for Colorado riding, you might look into this option.
Get a Balaklava but make sure it fits under your helmet.
Consider a full-face helmet for riding in cold weather.
Be prepared for foggy facemasks, which occur when you ride from the cold into a warm environment. I’ve had it happen just going into a tunnel. Make sure you’re adept at lifting your face shield up. Also, scuba shops sell a no-fog solution that you can spray on the inside of your visor.
You might invest in a larger windscreen on your bike for winter riding. It will give you a bigger pocket of warm air for your body while riding in cold weather.
Just like skiers, you can get heated socks and boots.
Invest in some good boots that are waterproof and include insulation.
Don’t tuck your pants into your boots in a rainstorm – the water runs down the pants and pools in the boots.
Finally, watch the weather! If you’re planning to head out any time during the winter months, check the road reports and the weather reports before you leave. Things can change very quickly, especially in the mountains.
I hope you have a fun, safe, comfortable winter motorcycle riding season!