AMA Hall of Famer with tips & tricks for winterizing your bike and yourself, and controlling your Insurance costs while the bike is not in daily use
Winter has arrived, and every rider knows what that means. For many, it means several months of parting company with your best friend, your motorcycle. It means missing the feeling of freedom, the company of good friends and the roar of the open road. While you can't control the weather, you can prepare your motorcycle(and yourself) so you both survive the long winter and are in top shape when spring finally arrives and it's time to ride again. And even if you are a die-hard who rides year round no matter what here are some tips to get the most out of the next few months:
Essential Winter Riding Gear
If you're one of those riders that ride year round, you'll need to gather essential winter riding gear. Fortunately, modern apparel manufacturers have created some of the warmest, most protective, winter resistant riding gear ever available. You may already have some of these items on hand, and others you will need to purchase. Standing or walking outside by itself in freezing temperatures is uncomfortable enough. However, riding your bike at upwards of 55 miles per hour without the right winter gear is not only downright chilly, it’s dangerous. Without the proper winter riding gear, you risk hypothermia and frostbite, so gear up accordingly.
We recommend starting with a thermally insulated base layer underneath water-resistant, wind-breaking outer layers. You can find insulated gear designed specifically for winter motorcycle riding including water resistant pants and jackets that do an excellent job of keeping you warm and dry. Most winter jackets have extra insulation around the arms and wrists, ensuring mobility in these areas. However, they're also breathable, preventing you from overheating. You should also consider how you will protect your head, face, and neck while riding in cold temperatures. We recommend a full-face helmet and a neck gaiter that reaches slightly below the top of your jacket. A full balaclava works very well in these situations as well helping you maintain core temps. Once you gather all the gear you plan to wear on your winter ride, try it on and take a quick lap around the block. If any of your clothing feels too restrictive, you may want to swap it out for a more comfortable alternative. Also, consider using heated vests and pants liners. These have become very popular in recent years and can be operated either by battery or by tying into your motorcycle’s electrical system.
Winterizing your Motorcycle
- Make sure you have fresh antifreeze in your cooling system. This fluid will help prevent your engine from freezing up while riding in cold temperatures.
- Check weather conditions before you set out to know what you're up against. Leave plenty of distance between your bike and the vehicle in front of you to ensure adequate breaking space.
- Avoid trailing trucks and buses, as they produce wind blasts when pushing through cold air. Avoid leaning too severely when turning. Give yourself extra time to reach your destination.
- If you find yourself in a slide, turn in the direction of the slide, angling your body away from the slide while you regain control. Never make any quick adjustments to your brake or throttle setting.
- Make sure your tires are in excellent condition with plenty of tread. Grip is at a premium and riding on a worn or bald tire is extremely dangerous in winter conditions.
- If you're planning any long-distance motorcycle trips this winter, you may want to invest in a heated seat and heated grips. These features can help you stay warm and comfortable while riding in frigid temperatures. Also handlebar control covers such as the HippoHands systems can keep your hands warm and dry. Dry/warm hands ensure that you can control your bike adequately while riding in the cold.
- Winterizing motorcycle engine oil & fluids is an essential step in preparing your bike for long-term storage. While replacing all of these fluids may take a few hours, you'll be thankful when your bike is ready to go after a winter in storage.
- If your plans do not call for riding during the winter be sure to store your bike properly. Disconnecting the battery and putting it on a battery tender so it remains fully charged is a great option. Be sure the tires remain inflated to their proper levels and that the chain(if you have one) is properly lubricated. Last but not least, be sure to store your motorcycle in a dry, safe place and that all the fluids including antifreeze and engine oil are fresh and at proper levels.
Switching to Pay Per Mile & Saving on Insurance
In most every case, even for die-hards, riding fewer miles is most likely their final option during the winter. If you want to save money during the winter and maintain your insurance coverage, I strongly recommend switching from the traditional year-round coverage to the most ideal and affordable motorcycle insurance out there, and I’m talking about Pay Per Mile. VOOM offers cold states riders a better way to keep their bike covered, while paying a low monthly premium. In that case, why should you overpay when your bike is in storage? Start saving with VOOM and pay only for the miles you ride. Check your savings below and switch to pay per mile.