Safety First: Riding Tips for Winter Weather
With Halloween just around the corner, the self-isolation blues are more real than ever. Maybe we can’t celebrate this holiday season how we usually do (what a horrible year for trick-or-treaters right?) but we can spend that extra free time focusing on what we love: riding.
Hey there, my name’s Tucker. I’m a new writer for Maus Taus Trading Co. Nice to meet you! I’ll be writing to you each month, helping you stay informed and up to date on all things MOTO. While I’d love to kick things off with something festive, safety’s first.
Want to ride this winter but feeling iffy about the weather? Heed these 10 preventive measures to protect both you and your bike.
1. TRUST YOUR GUT
First and foremost, decide what weather you are comfortable riding in. Be honest about what you can safely handle and what commutes are worth the risk. If you need to travel or are planning a ride through challenging weather, make an agreement with yourself to practice discernment.
2. BEWARE THE WEATHER
Paying attention to the weather forecast is the easiest way to remain safe during colder months. Routinely check your weather app or the local online advisory to stay informed, especially since weather has become more unpredictable in recent years. Even for short outings, plan around what you can expect.
3. BIKE MAINTENANCE
Assuming you ride regularly and maintain service history, a general look over your bike is a necessary winter precaution. Ensure your bike is ready for the conditions by inspecting the ware and air pressure of your tires, the condition of the chain and for battery damage, cracking or leakage. Literally checking the nuts and bolts on your bike can make a difference in the long run.
Batteries are especially vulnerable to temperature. If you have an older battery, check in with your mechanic. Of course, if concerns arise or your bike tends to need servicing in colder months, planning a visit is a must.
GIF by Tim Beckhardt
4. KEEP IT CLEAN
A dirty bike becomes a safety hazard as the weather cools. For rain, a protective spray can prevent build up of grime, but legally, ice and snow must be clear from all lights, mirrors and the number plate before riding. Proper bike storage will make your life easier. Just make sure that your bike has cooled before using any kind of protective covering for shelter.
Winter riding gear should protect from the wet and cold. Opt for quality, durable layers that keep you warm and dry. Materials like Nylon, waxed or water-proofed fabrics protect against the elements and are still breathable. Wool or fleece can be layered underneath your jacket for warmth. Remaining comfortable and well-suited for your ride only helps you stay safe. And, you’ll enjoy each outing more. Remember that hands and feet are especially important. Heated gloves, hand warmers, vests or jackets are great investments.
6. THE VIEW
Lights are a vital part of your safety gear. With more elements and a quicker night-fall, reflective decals and gear can help ensure that others on the road see you. Make sure you can see, too. Riding with a fogged visor is not only annoying but distracting and blinding. Don a visor that is either clear or, if tinted, wiped with anti fog treatment or inserted with the pin lock to insulate your inner helmet.
7. SELF CARE
It’s easy to forget the basics during the holidays. Though it may not be hot outside, the sun still shines and it's easier than ever to become dehydrated. On top of that, low temperatures cause fatigue and a lack of concentration. Don’t forget proper nutrition, sleep, hydration and even sunscreen, especially if you plan to enjoy longer rides. Though you’ll likely be bundled up, a layer of sunscreen helps build a barrier between your skin and the elements before and after your ride.
While you should always bring your phone with you, rain, mud or slush can damage it. Packing your phone in a waterproof case is essential. Simply place your phone in a ziplock bag or plastic pouch before riding. Options for more practical use are available online for roughly $10, like this phone pouch from Home Depot.
9. HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
Even if you're familiar with the route or an experienced motorcyclist, you can’t prepare for what you can’t see. On sunny and dry winter days, black ice can still coat the roads. Wet autumn leaves can easily become dangerous, though easier to spot. Play it by the book, being especially careful and aware of your speed, stopping distances, braking and turns. Mapping out your travel beforehand based on safe roads is a good preventive measure.
When riding this winter, simply inform someone of your plans. Tell a friend, partner or family member your ETA so that they know when to expect you, or when to expect a check in from you. Sharing your location with an app like Find Me or Find My Friends helps a person locate you in the event of an accident. You can also share your location with a friend or family member via your Maps app.
Even if you decide not to ride this winter, the season reminds us to pay extra attention to how we care for ourselves and our machinery. Investing a little extra time into motorcycle maintenance and being intentional when riding in cold or wet weather will only make you a happier rider come spring. Whether opting for a broomstick or a motorcycle, stay safe and stay healthy!