There are two types of motorcycling weather in our part of America. Either it's so hot that you may have to ride with a bag of ice in your lap to avoid spontaneous combustion, or it's the polar opposite. Riding in the cold can be fun, but only if you have the necessary equipment and know-how to do so safely.
New riders don't always have the experience to know what to look out for. Even the most experienced riders are prone to forgetting the fundamentals. Here's a list of all the things you'll need to know to stay comfortable and safe when motorcycling in the cold.
Monitor the Weather
Although we don't get much snow in Texas, the roads sometimes get slick and the weather can change dramatically. Before you go out, check the weather forecast and make sure you're ready for any changes.
When a cold front moves in and the temperature drops 30 degrees, midday sweat turns freezing. Sudden gusts of wind or rain in sheets can reduce visibility and make it more difficult to travel home safely.
Perform a Tire Check
Anyone who has ever taken a motorcycle safety course has been told that they should inspect their tires before each ride. Many of us started out doing so, but it went down the drain over time.
The tires seemed fine every time we checked. And all that repeated checking seemed like a waste of time when all we wanted to do was ride. However, even if your tires appear to be the same following a temperature change, chances are they aren't.
Cold air contracts. Your tires contain air. So they’re not going to be inflated to the same pressure as they were when you rode at 70 degrees as they are after sitting in your 30-degree carport overnight. Cold tires mean limited traction, especially at the beginning of your ride.
Check your tire pressure. Compare it to the PSI recommendations on your bike. Then check your tread and tire wear. If your tires need to be replaced, take care of it before you go for a cold-weather ride.
Invest in Good Cold Weather Gear
Anybody else go for a January 1 ride and end up with ice claw hands and frozen knees? Until now it’s been so mild there have been plenty of opportunities to enjoy riding without needing much in the way of cold weather riding gear, but there are some pretty chilly days ahead. Here’s what you need (stop by Motorclothes and we'll hook you up.)
Insulate Your Core
Because your hands and feet are your extremities, they are the first to feel cold. Keep your core warm to provide them with warm, oxygen-rich blood. Start with a base layer like our thermal knit Henley, then layer on a Thinsulate mid-layer before putting on your riding jacket. The wind can't get to your core while you're wearing three layers, and you can modify as the day warms up to keep comfortable.
Buy the Right Gloves
Riding gloves are essential in chilly weather. Otherwise, your fingers would get extremely cold, then numb. That won't work because you need your hands for the clutch, brake, and throttle. Look for insulated gloves that are entirely windproof. Even better are heated gloves.
Cover Your Head and Neck
Even though a full-face helmet and good winter riding jacket block a lot of the wind, they don't cover your neck, and helmets still allow cold air in through vents, and after a while it can feel like you have ice picks up your sinuses. Balaklava’s are some of the most inexpensive pieces of riding gear you can buy and they last a lifetime. Try one out, your face and neck will be both toasty and grateful.
Protect From Moisture
When cycling in the cold, bring rain gear because you won't be able to stay warm if you're damp. You'll be able to put on your rain gear and stay dry if an unexpected storm strikes. Even if you like more subtle tones for the rest of your clothing, we recommend acquiring rain gear in vivid colors. Rainy weather is dark with shades of gray and reduces visibility. If it saves your life, it's okay to look like a neon magic marker for a bit.
Install Heated Motorcycle Accessories
Have you ever waited at a stoplight in the cold, draping as much of your body as possible over your bike, attempting to absorb the warmth emitted by your engine and exhaust? You only need the correct accessories to turn your bike into a heat source that greatly enhances riding comfort. Warmth for your core and legs is provided by a heated seat. Heated grips are reasonably priced and are available for a wide variety of models.
Watch for Road Hazards
Road staff apply sand or salt on the roads when freezing is a threat. Traction is harmed by grit. Slow down if you detect crystalized bits on the road, especially when turning.
Keep an eye out for black ice, which consists of tiny layers of incredibly clear ice that practically mix in with the pavement. Even if it hasn't rained, humidity or moisture dripping from automobiles can cause black ice to form.
Increase your following distance to give yourself more time to react. You'll have more time to alter your direction and avoid a collision if other drivers encounter dangers and make mistakes.
Verify Your Destination is Open
You don't want to brave the cold to get somewhere amazing only to find out it's closed due to bad weather, employee shortages or for some other reason. Don't trust what Google says about business hours. Call ahead and talk to an actual human being to make sure the place is open and it's worth making the trip.
At Dallas Harley-Davidson in Garland, we always update our hours if there's a change, and there haven't been many even during the pandemic. Stop by for cold weather riding gear, motorcycle accessories and everything else you need for motorcycling throughout winter 2022. Stay connected and be the first to know about promotions and events when you register for updates here.