Superbike editor John Hogan reveals what you need to think about while riding your bike in the winter weather.
- John combines his tips with the advice of other motorcycle and driving experts
- Make a habit of checking your bike regularly to make sure it’s up to the task
- The main thing to remember is that riding your motorcycle all year round will make you a better biker
Learn and enjoy
Riding in the winter can be as much fun as riding on a midsummer day. The key is to relax, concentrate and enjoy it. Your reactions will be better if you're relaxed rather than tense.
If you're finishing a winter ride with a headache from over thinking what you're doing, slow your pace down and give yourself time to think.
Pay attention to maintaining your bike and your kit and they will look after you all the way through to the spring. The reward will be feeling the temperature rise day by day when you ride.
Riding style – Slow it down
Expect less grip and change your riding style to suit. It's a really rewarding feeling when you can read the road and spot hazards before they become a problem. The key to doing this is slowing your pace and lifting your vision.
Use all of your senses, crack your visor open a fraction to help reduce the chance of a fogging visor as well as allowing you to pick up on the smell of diesel.
Riding style – Defence
Inspector Dave Mangan is head of road policing in Lancashire.
"Ride defensively and treat all drivers as if they haven't seen you," he advises. "They are nice and warm with radios on and may not see you in the gloom."
Regular maintenance – Tyre checks
Make a habit of checking your tyre pressures and condition weekly, it takes less than a minute.
"Don't be tempted to drop tyre pressures in order to force heat into your tyres, you'll end up forcing the grooves in your tyres to close which will reduce their water displacing ability," says Gary Hartshorne, who is the motorcycle product manager for Bridgestone tyres in Northern Europe.
"If it's dry and you do decide to drop some pressure, make sure to stay within the manufacturers recommendations."
Regular maintenance – Weekly checks
When you're checking your tyres, check your lights work and wipe any winter grime off them. Look for loose wires and bodywork screws, which may fall out and leave you stranded at the roadside in the rain.
Get a good coating of a winter protection spray on the bike. Repeat the coating weekly until the spring to keep rust and corrosion away.
If you leave your bike open to the elements, it might need repairs further down the line. Find out if your insurance covers repairs.
Riding kit – Inner layers
If you're cold, your concentration can drift from paying attention to the road.
"It's all about layering," explains Geoff Travell, Managing Director of Knox, the company behind Dry Inside base layers and Cold Killers mid layers.
"Effective layering helps riders deal with the varied weather conditions and temperatures frequently thrown at them while on the road, reducing perspiration and overheating on the warmer days, while insulating and protecting from wind chill when the temperature drops."
Riding kit – Outer layers
Your outer layer needs to be waterproof, have a reflective pattern to help other road users see you and will ideally have a removable liner, for those rare days when the sun pops out.
Look for CE approved armour that is fitted, without being too restrictive. A jacket that zips full length to a pair of pants is ideal, so is a 100% waterproof pocket that will protect your phone and your wallet in any conditions.
You'll be a better rider for making sure you're prepared for a winter ride, and if you do decide to go out, it will be easy to spot those that have dusted their bikes off in March. Rusty riding is inadvisable, just like riding a rusty bike.
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