Riding a bike during the winter is a challenging task, but it can be incredibly satisfying too. As long as you know how to stay safe and handle the wet, icy weather, riding a bike during the winter can be an inexpensive, fast, and convenient way to get around. Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and keep your bike on the road during the coldest months of the year.
Preparing Your Bike For the Winter
The first thing you need to do is make sure that your bike is in perfect condition. Treat it to an oil change (with good quality oil that is designed to protect the engine during cold starts) and a new filter, and change your motorbike tyres for ones that are designed to handle icy conditions.
If your bike is liquid-cooled, then you should make sure that the coolant levels are adequate, and that there’s plenty of anti-freeze mixed in with the liquid in the system. As a good rule of thumb, if your coolant looks clear, rather than green or blue, then it probably doesn’t contain enough anti-freeze.
You should also check your brakes, your battery, and your electrical wiring. Even minor faults that have gone un-noticed can become serious issues once bad weather sets in.
Get in the habit of letting your bike warm up for a bit by running the engine for a few minutes before you pull out. This will protect your engine from cold-related damage. If your bike is your pride and joy, then some inexpensive plastic crash protection will serve you well, and could save you a fortune in cosmetic damage caused by low speed scrapes, or by grit and dirt on the roads.
Preparing Yourself for the Winter
No matter how experienced a rider you are, your chances of being involved in an accident greatly increase during the winter. The cold, icy weather makes the roads treacherous at the best of times, and riding on cold tyres increases your chances of losing control even at slow speeds. In addition, poor visibility makes it harder for car drivers to spot you.
It’s a good idea to invest in some protective gear. Treat yourself to some sturdy and warm new bike boots and gloves, and consider investing in a full face helmet that will keep the wind off you while the weather is cold.
Putting Your Bike Away
If you find that you’re not comfortable riding during the winter, then you may want to bring your bike indoors until the spring. This is a perfectly understandable choice. Before you bring your bike indoors, clean it thoroughly. Use this opportunity to check the tyre treads, all your bulbs, your breaks, wiring, and the clutch. Lubricate all moving parts, and replace any damaged or worn parts that you can see.
Clean your battery terminals, and test the battery. If it is very old, consider replacing it, otherwise, charge it ready for the new year.
Top up the tank so that it is completely full of fuel, and cover the bike with a proper moisture-resistant covering for the winter. When you decide to use the bike again in the spring, check the battery and they tyres again, and then let the engine run for a while before you take the bike out for its first nice weather ride.
This article was written by Ben Frisby on behalf of the motocross retailer Ride Direct. Check out their site to find out more.