Winter is just around the corner and in Utah, that means snow, slush, ice, and less-than-desirable road conditions. Riding in the snow and sleet requires an increased level of preparation, care, and vigilance. Therefore, it will require that you do things a little differently when preparing for your rides and the way you drive when you are out on the road. The following five tips will help you be better prepared for your winter rides and will help you have a safer experience while on the road.
1.) Wear clothes in layers
Generally, the proper way to dress in the winter (regardless of what you are doing) is to wear several layers, but it is especially important to do while on the motorcycle. Layers will better insulate the heat and will allow you to add or take off clothing as the temperature climbs and drops. Wear clothing that is breathable but that also repels the elements from the outside. Try a neck-warmer or balaclava and a tightly-sealed helmet that comes with a fog-free faceshield. Wearing a helmet that is fog-free is crucial, otherwise riding becomes exponentially more dangerous.
2.) Winter riding requires special preparation
Preparing your motorcycle for riding in the snow, ice, or rain means making sure you have the proper tires for better traction, an adequately sized windscreen, and hand guards that will protect you from the elements. You can also install accessories like heated grips (Hot Grips) and foot pegs that have better grip. Check your antifreeze and your hoses to make sure they are in good shape.
3.) Check your tires
Just like with your car, be sure to check your tires often, especially the tread. Each year around this time, you should be checking to make sure that your tires have enough tread to last you through the winter. You also should be continuously checking tire pressure, preferably before every time you are about to go out for ride.
4.) Beware of changes in the road
Snowfall also usually means salt, uneven surfaces, and black ice. Any of these conditions can spell disaster for you while riding and will immediately affect your tires’ traction. Take turns wider and slower. After the snow melts, it is common to see new potholes or cracks in the road. Thoroughly wash your bike after each ride in the snow to clean off the salt.
5.) Drive slower
Winter weather will naturally decrease your visibility. You can counter this by driving more slowly and looking farther ahead down the road. This will allow you to see danger ahead with enough time to react to it. This also means that you increase your following distance from the cars or trucks ahead of you.
Obviously the best case scenario is to get home as quickly as you can if it starts to snow heavily—but sometimes that isn’t an option. When it isn’t, the rules that you follow to drive safely on the road should be exaggerated so that you are even more careful and safety-conscious than you normally are.
photo courtesy of: abhimanyu