Ultimate Winter Motorcycle Riding Guide for Cold Weather

winter motorcycle riding -

Ultimate Winter Motorcycle Riding Guide for Cold Weather

Safety is always a top concern for motorcycle enthusiasts, and that is especially true when it comes to winter motorcycle riding. You can ride your motorcycle all 12 months of the year if you properly prepare for cold weather motorcycle riding. From the right cold weather gear to important winter motorcycling tips, keep reading for the ultimate winter motorcycle riding guide for cold weather. 


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Can You Ride Your Motorcycle in the Winter? 

For some, riding their motorcycle in the winter is automatically out, and that's okay. If you are uncomfortable with winter motorcycle riding or feel unsafe, you absolutely should not do it. However, if you are determine to not let the cold stand in your way, plenty of bikers every year ride their motorcycle in the winter. 

winter motorcycle riding

While some people really enjoy cold weather motorcycle riding, winter weather conditions can quickly become unsafe. Before you set out to ride your motorcycle in the winter, make sure it is legal in your area. Some regions prohibit motorcycle riding in the winter or enforce requirements when it comes to traction tires. Be fully informed about your local laws if you plan to ride in the winter. 

If you are legally allowed to ride your motorcycle in the winter, make sure both you and your bike are prepared. The right cold weather motorcycle gear can keep you safe while you ride, and regular bike maintenance ensures your motorcycle is up for the task of winter riding. 

How Cold is too Cold for Motorcycle Riding?

It's not recommended to ride your motorcycle below freezing 32 Degrees Fahrenheit (0 Degrees Celsius). Since motorcycles are smaller more exposed vehicles they are not built for extreme winter conditions. 

Should You Warm Up Your Motorcycle Before Cold Rides?

The answer is YES! You should always warm up your motorcycle before cold winter rides because certain rings,  valves, & seals perform properly when oil is circulating at a minimum temperature. 

This is the same reason that people need to warm up diesel engines in the winter because diesel becomes thicker in colder temperatures causing more stress on the engine. 

Winter Motorcycle Riding Safety Guides

winter motorcycle riding

Winter motorcycle riding can quickly go from fun to fearful in just seconds. From hidden ice and unexpected snow to frozen fingers and limited visibility, there is a lot to consider when riding in the winter. Keep the following motorcycle safety guidelines in mind if you plan on cold weather riding. 

  • Determine your level of comfort: Not everyone has the same level of risk tolerance. Decide how comfortable you are with riding in the winter and set your limits. 
  • Go slow: Winter riding can be very dangerous and you are likely to face unexpected obstacles on the road. Slower speeds provide more time to react. 
  • Know the winter obstacles: Salt on the road can cause a lot of issues for motorcyclist. Snow plow trucks also cause new cracks to form in the road that can damage your rims. 
  • Spot black ice: Stay away from anything that looks like ice on the road to avoid sliding or skidding. 
  • Increase your visibility: Plan to look further down the road while you ride in the winter in order to spot potential hazards as soon as possible. 
  • Maintain a larger following distance: Adding more space than normal between the car in front of you can provide extra time to react.
  • Stop riding if it snows: If snow starts to fall, it is best to go home as soon as possible. Snow can quickly accumulate, creating new hazards on the road. 
  • Accommodate cold tires: Cold tires can lead to less traction and slower reaction times. Consider how braking, accelerating, and leaning will be impacted by the weather. 
  • Stay up on maintenance: From salt building up on components to sticky cables, there is a lot to maintain in the winter. Staying on top of maintenance ensures you are ready to ride. 

Top 6 Winter Motorcycle Riding Tips

winter motorcycle riding

In addition to general safety tips, there are several ways to make cold weather motorcycle riding more enjoyable. It is important to remember that the cold weather will impact your body is ways you might not expect or even notice at first. Even if you feel perfectly fine, it is crucial that you follow good safety practices to stay safe and comfortable. 

  1. Plan extra stops: Your body works harder in cold weather and you will need to rest more than usual. The temperature and weather may also change unexpectedly, and you are likely to see sundown sooner than normal. 
  2. Eat regularly: Staying full and fueled can help you keep warm in the cold weather. It is important to eat right if you want to ride in the winter.
  3. Stay hydrated: Hot weather is not the only time to get dehydrated. Winter air can suck out moisture and you may not even realize it. 
  4. Have a backup plan: If you are taking a winter motorcycle trip, prepare with backup stops to rest, work on your bike, warm up, and refuel. 
  5. Find a local tow and repair shop: Connect with a local shop that specifically services motorcycles to ensure you can always get help when you need it. 
  6. Dress properly: The right cold weather gear can go a long way towards keeping you warm, comfortable, and safe. 

How to Ride Your Motorcycle in the Snow

motorcycle ride in snow

If it starts snowing while you are riding, you should find a safe place to stop as soon as possible Actively falling snow can quickly alter weather and riding conditions, making it unsafe to drive. If snow is already on the ground, but not currently falling, use the following tips to stay safe. 

  • Ride on freshly fallen snow instead of compacted snow. 
  • Only do one thing on your bike at a time, including braking, steering, and accelerating. 
  • Use a higher gear to better control your bike. 
  • Start braking earlier, and turn slowly and deliberately. 
  • Avoid sudden inputs and stay light on your controls. 
  • Always stay alert to changing conditions. 
  • Make sure you are warm with proper cold weather riding gear. 

What to Wear for Winter Motorcycle Riding 

winter motorcycle riding

What you wear can make all the difference when it comes to winter motorcycle riding. Avoid chattering teeth, numb fingers, and a wind burned face by properly layering your cold weather motorcycle gear. Follow these tips to layer your motorcycle gear when riding in the winter. 

  • Start with a base layer that is moisture-wicking. 
  • Add a mid-layer of fleece or wool to make an insulating barrier. 
  • Invest in outerwear that is waterproof and breathable. 
  • Find gloves that fit snugly, and add heated grips if needed. 
  • Wear a winter face mask and neck warmer that fit comfortably under your helmet to protect your face. 
  • Use heated gear if simple layering does not keep you warm enough.


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