How to Stay Warm Riding a Motorcycle in the Winter


Even in northern Canada and Alaska there are folks who drive their motorcycles during the winter. Go figure! But even if you’re not in a super cold part of the world, the biggest concern is always the weather and road conditions. But if you prepare properly, riding a bike can be extremely fun even in harsh conditions. In this article I’ll share with you tips on how to ride a motorcycle in winter.

Prepare your bike for winter

If you decide to take this step, your motorcycle should be in excellent condition and free from damage. In the event of a breakdown or accident in extremely cold weather, except for common problems, the greatest risk is hypothermia.

Reducing the air pressure in the tires to the recommended minimum will allow the tires to better adhere to the surface and warm up better. Warmer tires, better traction, but still don’t expect the same behavior on the road as if it were a warm August day and therefore drive carefully.

It is advisable to have a heater on the levers, but any other protection is also good, and it is advisable to have a built-in windshield, which can be a great solution if your motorcycle does not have a factory.

The cold wind is a big problem in the winter even without driving, but especially when you get on a motorcycle. When you drive at about 60 mph at 30 Fahrenheit, it feels the same as standing at -10.4. At lower temperatures, the difference is even greater: driving at -21 degrees at about 60 mph is like standing at -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Best equipment and clothes to stay warm

With wind protection, you’ll be able to enjoy the ride, even at sub-zero temperatures. You just have to choose the right equipment. These are the main factors to consider:

Head Gear

One of the best ways to protect your head and face is a “phantom” or ski mask, which can protect your entire head, neck and most of your face to a large degree.

Keeping the head and neck warm is of the utmost importance as it allows warm blood to flow throughout the body. As one of the biological mechanisms of protection, in case the head or vital organs are threatened with freezing, the blood supply to the extremities will be reduced. So it’s clearly important to take special care when selecting warm head gear.

Aside from a ski mask, you can opt for any protective gear that can fit with a tight helmet. The equipment does not have to be fully resistant to the wind, as good combinations can protect you from the cold either way.  Of course, there is layer dressing, which you may or may not be comfortable with as well.

Torso and legs

Make sure that you already have effective wind protection and clothing that will keep you warm before getting extra equipment.

For example, a ski jacket or ruffle can be worn over a leather or textile jacket. The addition of wool and extra layers can help maintain the body’s warmth, while thicker ruffled pants can serve to further warm the legs.

The best protection against the wind is the outer layer, so make a good choice of clothing in this regard. The same thing goes for jackets and pants.

Ski gloves can be a good choice for protecting your hands and fingers in harsh conditions, but only if you have a good grip while driving with them.

Don’t forget to also wear warm winter boots or shoes. Wearing sports shoes that are light and provide a lot of airflow is a big no-no. Your feet will freeze to death, plus they’re the worst in rain. So don’t forget waterproof and warm footwear, leather or otherwise.

The most important thing is that the equipment, especially for the arms and legs is not tight, because it can reduce blood flow will can only have counterproductive results.

The Ultimate Choice

Many riders prefer a custom-made suit or kit, which can be two-piece or one-piece, depending on the manufacturer. It’s much easier than combining different pieces of clothing and gear every time.

Clothing with electric heaters is definitely the best solution if you want to really dial in on your temperature preference. Even just a vest with a heater will make the ride incredibly comfortable. There are also gloves, jackets and pants with heaters, even socks!

Combined with a windproof wardrobe, wearing clothing with electric heating will make you feel like it’s summer while you’re riding on a cold winters day.

Conclusion

Driving in cold weather can be a little tricky and risky. But on the other hand, with the right equipment, it’s very feasible and fun. Just make sure that you’re warm and cozy instead of freezing to death.

Even a five minute ride unprepared can be enough to develop pneumonia, get a sinus infection or worse. So I hope you’ll use this information to good use as you prepare for the harsher temperatures ahead.

Luka Barron

Motorcycle mechanic, writer and Heineken lover. A bit like Hank Moody on a Suzuki.

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