A guide to winter motorcycle riding

Some bikers decide against riding in winter. For some it’s too cold, for others too dangerous. However, with the right equipment, some common sense and perhaps some slight modifications to riding style there’s no reason why you shouldn’t ride in most winter weather.

While riding a motorbike demands your full attention any day of the year, winter brings some special hazards. Icy or greasy roads, poor weather, darker nights and mornings can all make things trickier.

So what can you do to keep on biking safely this winter?

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Tips for winter riding

  • Staying warm and comfortable

This sounds obvious but there’s a real difference between proper winter biking gear and simply trying to wrap up a bit warmer. One piece leathers that don’t allow the wind in, while allowing you to layer up underneath are the best – but then they come at a price.

If you are forced to simply wear more layers, make sure they overlap, and buy some thermals, a cold wind that gets in can chill you to the bone quickly.

Gloves are possibly as important as the suit, and a quality pair of waterproof, thermal gloves can keep your hands warm and dry throughout. Keeping your hands warm is fundamentally important to your safety. Cold fingers may react more slowly and slower reflexes on winter roads is not something you can afford to have.

The importance of being visible can’t be overstated for bikers too. Wearing something illuminous or reflective helps improve your chances of being seen by other road users.

  • Watch out for winter roads

Riding on winter roads is potentially treacherous. Black ice, greasy surfaces, leaf falls, fog, low winter sun, heavy rain and snow may all make an appearance. There is only one way to cope and that’s to respect the elements and take things easier than you would under normal circumstances.

Position yourself in the middle of your lane to allow for any wind gusts and give yourself as much space as you can.

As a biker you’ll already be wary of cars and pedestrians and may well have felt invisible on more than one occasion. Winter can make things worse. The dark and poor weather can combine with steamed up windows or heads down battling the rain. You’ll need your wits well and truly about you.

Keep as much space around you and remember that on wet or icy roads you need longer to stop too. Increasing the distance between you and the vehicle in front brings another advantage too – less spray from its wheels, helping your visibility.

As well as the roads, the elements are also more challenging in winter. Sideways rain and wind gusts add to discomfort and challenge.

Remember, increased concentration can quickly lead to tiredness so make sure you take rests when you need to both warm up and refresh the senses.

  • Keep your bike well maintained

Keeping your bike well maintained over winter is a must. Make sure your lights are working properly and kept clean. Tyre pressure is more important than ever on winter roads, so check even more regularly than you would ordinarily. Keeping your battery well maintained will help avoid the risk of being left stranded with a flat. Finally make sure you keep your antifreeze levels up.

While motorcycling is certainly more challenging over winter months, it’s far from impossible. As a biker you’re used to all of these challenges. You just need to take things slower, take extra precautions and expect the worst in traffic. That way you’ll help reduce the chance of something catching you out.

The right bike insurance is more important than ever in the winter months. If you’re looking to get the right cover at the right price, it could be worth comparing. comparethemarket.com data from June to August 2016 shows that 50% of our customers paid £245.48 or less for their bike insurance.

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