It’s that simple – cold weather means colder tyres. And as everyone should know, cold tyres equate to limited traction. Riding helps increase heat in the tyre, but even the briefest stop can quickly cool the tyres down, providing lack of traction.
While on this subject, let’s also discuss how you get heat in your tyres. Many riders sway back and forth like a F1 driver, but simply put, this is a waste of time. To truly get heat in the tyres, accelerate and decelerate quickly for a bit, obviously being aware of traction. Hard on brakes to hard on the throttle puts heat in tyres more quickly than riding like some scooter rider. Plus swaying not only looks stupid it puts the ‘bike out of balance.
Also, make sure you have adequate tread on your tyres for winter riding. Penny pinching on tyres is about as stupid as penny pinching on the quality of a motorcycle helmet, and this is truer-than-ever in winter-motorcycling scenarios. It may snow, and you’ll need to channel water/snow more than ever on wet roads that are cold.
And check your tyre pressure - this is more than crucial during the winter months when optimal traction is needed.
Watch for Salt, Fresh Cracks due to ice expansion/frost shattering and Black Ice
Salt is not only an enemy to metal, but also traction. Treat salt like ice; if you see crystalised appearances on the side of the road, stay away. Also remember that those gritting lorries trucks destroy roads, causing new cracks, sometimes huge and able to chew up rims. Once again remember to run correct tyre pressure.
And black ice. If it even remotely looks like ice, stay away. While on the subject of salt, remember that motorcycles weren’t designed for winter riding. Like salt from the ocean, motorcycles can quickly succumb to rust. Wash down your ‘bike regularly during the winter. This is a great time to further inspect your bike.
Increase Visibility and Following Distance
Buy and fit a new visor. While riding in the winter, increase your visibility and space. Increasing visibility simply means looking further down the road, helping you recognize hazards before they occur. Increased visibility allows you to react to a potential threat well in advance, and this is more than needed in winter when traction is limited from the cold roads.
As for following distance, open it up. I maintain a few car lengths of space ahead of me, allowing me to react to hazards, such as cars ahead stopping, or being able to see something on the road.…and of course, the faster you’re riding, the more distance you should maintain.
Have a Motorcycle-Specific Rescue Service
Accidents happen, and are more likely to happen in cold-weather riding due to, once again, lack of traction. Make sure you have a rescue service that is readily available.
Don’t be a Dummy; If Snow Starts Falling, Get Home
The title says it all. If it begins snowing, get home. The white stuff can accumulate quickly, providing the slickest conditions. Keep an eye on the forecasts, and if there’s even a threat of major snow, keep your bike at home.
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