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FEATURE: How to prepare your bike for winter riding

Forgetting to cover your bike over night does not count as air cooling
Forgetting to cover your bike over night does not count as air cooling
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Wednesday, 09, Oct 2013 02:27

by Damien Sharkov and Daniel Cartwright

Here at MotorbikeTimes we have every kind of motorcyclist from the aspiring first timer to the experienced off road rider.

There is one challenge common to everyone who takes to the road on two wheels, however - winter.

Whilst many shy away from winter riding it can be both safe and fun, riding on dry bright December morning can be an exciting escape from Christmas shopping!

However as any experienced rider or the police or the IAM will tell you, if there is ice on the ground don't go out on your bike.

Even the most hardened and experienced rider will come off if they hit a patch of ice.

And whilst its never advisable to go riding when its icy or snowing, there will still be plenty of days during the winter when its perfectly safe to head out on your precious ride.

With the mercury slowly dropping once again, we have compiled some helpful rudimentary advice of what to look out for when saddling your two-wheeled vehicle in the coming months.

Clothing

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a fashionista feel free to journey down to Belstaff's store in central London for some fancy leathers, but the priorities when picking out your riding attire this season ought to be warmth and visibility.

Wrap up well, as you would in the cold weather, be it with a balaclava under your helmet or thermal clothing elsewhere.

Obviously warmth is important but don't comprise safety for warmth, mile for mile of riding accidents are more likely in winter and less predictable.

If you are heading out for a ride and your ski jacket looks warmer than your leathers consider wearing it over the top of your leathers. If you come off it will ruin your ski jacket, that's better than ruining you.

Also, make sure to invest in a high-visibility windbreaker or at least a fluorescent vest, as daylight hours will be getting shorter and foggy days will obscure you on the road.

Tyres

Once you get to inspecting your ride, pay close attention to your tyres. Measure the tread of your tyres and if they are less than 2mm, consider getting new ones.

Our friends at Metropolis motorcycle training remind you that the law requires that the tread on your wheels is no less than 1mm in depth.

During winter time having a good depth of tread is vital as there are more puddles, ice, wet leaves and other slippery obstacles on the road.

Consider winter, wet or cross over tyres. Especially if you are riding on sports tyres or a sports bike. Not only will wet tyres be able to move more water but they are designed to give more grip whilst the tyre is cold.

Increase regularity of break tests and tyre pressure tests. Many bikes are not engineered for below freezing storage and riding.

Rest of the bike

Make sure the vital parts are well lubricated and the bike's battery is charged. Check in case the tension in your chain has slackened.

It is just as likely you will struggle with noticing your fellow road users as they will struggle seeing you, so anticipate that you will use your headlights and other mod-cons such as heated handlebars more often.

Debris and frost are also likely to decrease your vision, so make sure to clean your mirrors frequently.

On the road

Of course all the safety precautions in the world will not matter if you are not a safe rider.

Make sure you take your time in planning your journey well, as well as in navigating the bike on the road, so you have enough space and control at all times, should you need to brake or swerve.

Petrol spills on the road will create patches of black ice as the autumn rain freezes over and increasing your braking distance and signalling early will make an enormous difference in terms of safety.

So stay safe, make your checks, and you can enjoy riding in winter almost as much as riding in summer.

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