Heading out for a winter motorcycle ride? Great! Hopefully you’ve read my winter motorcycle gear article already so you’re now ready to take in some winter motorcycle riding tips, too. In this article, I’d like to share some more tips to make you safer and maybe a better rider.
- Watch the weather. You simply don’t want to head out if it’s going to rain or snow. Street bikes are literally awful in snowy conditions. The weather reports should indicate “zero chance of snow” on the day you plan to head out.
- Know your route. We all know how Colorado weather can change. If you’re heading out on an “iffy” day, map out your route so that you aren’t surprised by how long it takes or whether you might hit delays.
- Don’t push it. Colorado weather is notorious for getting worse in the afternoon and evenings. Don’t get caught out because you pushed too far or too long.
- Watch for sand. In the winter when the plows drop sand on the road, your job as a motorcyclist gets harder. Cars push the sand out to the sides (which conveniently is also the apex of the corner), so try to ride in the cleared troughs that their tires create. Be especially careful in corners and at stop signs or lights, as that is where sanding is typically the heaviest.
- Watch for ice. It may be a crisp sunny day but if it was below freezing the night before, you could face black ice. Also, in freezing conditions all it takes is one numbskull to dump his Big Gulp on the ground to create an ice patch. I’ve seen a one-foot swatch of ice drop a bike to the ground in an instant. Don’t get distracted by the scenery; keep your eyes on the road when winter motorcycle riding.
- Don’t take the lead. If you’re riding in a group, don’t be in front. You don’t want to be the one to discover the ice. Stay in back with a lot of stopping distance between you and the front riders.
- Get insurance. Did I say this in my last article? Of course I did. 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. If you have any questions at all about the kind of insurance you need, don’t hesitate to call us.
Hone Your Winter Motorcycle Riding Skills
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is riding dirt bikes! If you love to ride but don’t want to risk the winter roads, get yourself a dirt bike (they are cheaper this time of year than they will be next spring) and find a good dirt bike park. You can ride a dirt bike in all sorts of inclement weather; I have friends who have gone so far as to put sheet metal screws into the knobs on their tires so they can ride on ice (I don’t recommend this, but it’s fun to watch).
Not only are dirt bikes fun, but they are a great way to improve your riding skills. You will literally fall over and off your bike dozens of times, and you will learn to navigate tricky obstacles, which is excellent training for the road. Also, riding dirt bikes helps you to learn to control your natural panic reaction in stressful riding situations – and it’s always easier to keep the bike upright when you’re not freaking out.
Stay safe out there and have fun this winter!