Updated: Dec 7, 2019
As we are now in the full grip of winter we want to impart some tested and proven tips for all the baby riders who will ride right through to spring and beyond
Winter riding gear
Getting too cold whilst riding can make you a very unsafe rider, so it is very important to make sure that you stay warm for the whole journey.
1. Making sure that your hands stay warm is probably the top priority. When your hands get too cold your fingers become painful and difficult to move. This rapidly reduces your ability to safely control your speed, gear changes and stopping. Many riders opt to fit heated grips which are very good for keeping heat in your hands, but wearing good Winter spec gloves will do the job just as well.
2. Layer up with several thin layers starting with good quality under-layer thermals rather than wear one chunky top under your leathers... and here is the geek reason why... Airflow follows the path of least resistance. With one chunky clothing item the airflow only needs to find one pathway to your skin. Every thin layer you put on will have a different weave and/or yarn knit construction forcing the airflow to find a different path. The direction and density of the weave pattern or the yarns in each layer will form a complex multi-directional weave that is much better at restricting airflow, ergo you stay warmer.
3. Make sure that your boots are in good conduction and semi if not fully water-proof. Wearing an extra pair of sock is not a bad idea either. For the same reason you need to keep your hands warm, your feet are in charge of gear changing and braking.
4. Pin-lock visors are on most modern helmets but there are still a number of budget brands that do not provide pin-lock visors. If your budget allows, this will be another worthwhile winter investment as it lessens the condensation inside your helmet.
5. Stick reflective tape on the back of your lid and your jacket. Make it a random pattern as this will help make you more visible to other road users. The more visible you can make yourself the better.
6. If you opt for a fully reflective gillet or jacket choose pink as this is the most visible colour.
Bike safety check
1. Unlike summer when you can just stuff your noggin in a lid, fling your leg over, kick the stand up and go, winter requires a few more steps before you set of on the next adventure. Turn the ignition and let you bike warm up a bit longer.
2. Use this time to check that all the lights are still in good working order. Clean all the light covers especially the headlights. Grit dirt layers builds up on the lenses very quickly and this will reduce illumination
3. Check both tyres for general condition and wear. Also make sure the tyres are inflated to meet Winter specifications.
4. Make sure that all the vital fluids are topped up and that your radiator is winter prepped with the correct amount of anti-freeze.
Winter road conditions can be down-right treacherous so you have to be even more vigilant. Here are a few extra factors to consider
1. Your tyres will take longer to warm up so you will have much less grip.
2. The brakes will take longer to get up to temperature so you must allow for longer stopping distances. You also have to increase the following distance to allow you more time to stop safely
3. Stay out the shadows on the road where possible as there may be black ice that is not visible to the eye.
4. Lastly there are the usual hazards to look out for such as fuel and oily residue on the road surfaces, drain and other metal covers embedded in the road surface. The most obvious one of these is to stay off the painted road markings. Your tyres are likely colder than it needs to be so grip is reduced.
Take care and stay safe this winter