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4 tips for safe winter riding

With winter right around the corner, many riders are making the effort to properly clean and store their motorcycles. Others, however, are prepping to continue riding for as long as Mother Nature will safely allow them to. Outside of sheer effort, however, there are numerous actions that motorcycle riders can take to ensure a safe ride even after the weather has turned nasty.

We all want to believe that we are safe, careful motor vehicle operators. From driving a car to piloting a boat to riding a motorcycle, we can often believe that our experience and reaction-time will thwart any dangerous situation. Unfortunately, factors beyond our control can render a situation impossible to navigate safely.

But what can motorcycle riders, specifically, do to keep themselves out of harm's way?

A recent piece in Ultimate Motorcycling highlighted some things that riders should keep in mind before and during a winter ride.

For example:

  • Wear warm gear, preferably layered: Whether you don heated gear, fleece or sweat-wicking fabric, staying warm and comfortable helps you focus on the road. Additionally, if your hands or feet start getting numb, it might negatively impact your ability to react to danger and control your bike.
  • Be diligent in your hardware prep: Preparing your motorcycle for the elements can be an involved process. From windscreens and handguards to ensuring that your antifreeze is fresh and properly mixed.
  • Be aware of cold tires: Riding in cold weather means that your tires are cold - and will cool down quickly every time you stop. Increased heat can lead to increased traction. The writer of the piece rapid acceleration and deceleration - being mindful of traction - can heat tires more efficiently than swaying.
  • Be aware of your environment: From black ice to salted roads, the environment itself can be your biggest enemy. Salt can be slippery and black ice can come out of nowhere and cover a section of the road. In addition, snow plows can rip up chunks of pavement and leave huge pieces of ice around the roads.

If you stay aware of your surroundings and prep your bike appropriately, you should be able to safely ride even after the weather turns cold. Riding in snow or freezing rain, of course, is never encouraged. But, by taking early steps, you can ensure safe, thrilling rides long after others have packed away their bikes.

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