Winter Riding Tips
If you’re thinking about packing your bike away for the winter, think again.
Riding in winter conditions is a sure-fire way to improve your skills: building up your confidence in the wet, sharpening up braking, throttle and clutch control - just imagine how much faster you’ll be when the roads dry out again. Even if that’s not your goal, you won't be anywhere near as rusty when the riding season starts up again next year.
The truth is with the exception of a few extreme days our winters here in the UK aren’t anywhere near as bad as we think they are. Add to that the improvements in clothing, tyre and brake technology and follow a few basic riding rules, and you can safely ride right through ‘till spring. Here’s how:
The key to staying upright in the wet is to do everything smoothly: no hard accelerating or braking, and go nice and easy on the clutch and brakes.
Take it steady on the downshifts too - the reduced grip makes lockups much more likely - and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front to increase your reaction time and reduce the need for heavy braking.
The same goes for cornering: drop that speed, turn in gently and don’t be trying to get your knee down.
Face-on, wind can reduce your concentration and tire you out quickly; from behind it can easily goad you into riding too fast; and from the side can push you across lanes.
There’s no easy fix, just try to figure out which direction it's coming from, drop your speed and alter your road position so you've space and time to react to being pushed off course.
Try to stay loose and relaxed on the bike - especially your grip on the bars - so if you get blown about it doesn’t affect the bike too much.
If it’s really bad, stick to a lower gear so you have more drive and control over the bike and counter steer to help correct your road position.
Not something many riders aim to tackle, but if it dumps a load while you’re at work and you’re forced to ride home, you need to know how to deal with it.
If it’s a thin layer use the same rules as riding in the wet, but be even more smooth and steady with your acceleration and gear changes, and keep speed low.
Stay in a high gear and keep your revs down to stop the rear losing traction. Look well ahead and avoid using the brakes altogether if you can. If you can’t, be very gentle and use the rear only.
If there are any, aim to ride in the tracks other vehicles have made rather than the fresh, untouched snow.
Deep snow is passable, but it normally involves paddling the bike through.
Ice is a big problem. Avoid riding whenever it's icy if you can.
If you’re lucky enough to spot it whilst riding, and think it only stretches for a short distance, get off the bike and walk with it.
If you find yourself on a patch of ice, don’t touch your brakes or try to swerve off it; gently ease off the throttle and shave off speed gradually, keeping your bike as upright as possible.
If you have to brake, use the rear only and keep the clutch / drive engaged to avoid locking up.
Riding in cold, wet, slippery conditions is stressful. And that makes you tense. This adds to your problems, because gripping the bars tightly and clinging on for dear life exaggerates every slip and slide on the road. If you watch motocross riders you'll notice that they're really 'loose' on the bike and that actually gives them more control, because they don't feel like they're fighting the bike. It's easy to get fixated on finishing your journey as quickly as possible, but sometimes it helps to take a break and give yourself time to relax and gather your thoughts.
Decent waterproof kit and heated clothing make a HUGE difference and we have a great selection from trusted brands in our clothing loft and in our online shop