Winter riding

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15/12/2009 at 15:01

Hi, just thought I would ask how differently do you all ride during winter compared to summer...

Specifically: on the odd sunny days between the snow, ice, rain and darkness how much slower do you take corners to take into account the effect of the cold on your tyres and the road?

The warm months of this year were lost on me as I had only just passed my test; as I continue to practice through winter I am just wondering how much traction is lost due to cold roads?

Cheers all for any input


If the Earth is the size of a pea in Britain, then the Sun is a beachball 50m away, Pluto is 4km away, and the next nearest star is in Tokyo. Now shrink Pluto's orbit into a coffee cup, then our Milky Way Galaxy fills North America

15/12/2009 at 15:59
I tend to take the corners slower and keep more upright - in particular on roundabouts, as they can be a good source of diesel, gravel and general crud (well around Leeds anyway).

Have to admit that I'm undoubtedly being too conservative in the corners at times at this time of year, though mainly due to me commuting in the dark, and often in not particularly well lit areas so I like to give some scope for error / unforeseen surface conditions.

I think it's also because i've lost the back end a few times recently on some slow corners due to me leaning over too much on cold tyres, and hitting some spilled gravel. Luckily managed to catch it by stomping my inside heal into the ground just as the back-end kicked out (a fortunate throwback from what I picked up trials riding I think).

I've read a few articles in some of the mags where investigators have stated that people have crashed due to not having enough confidence in the grip of the tyres. In that they have gone in too hot, panicked, braked / stood the bike up and gone off the road, whereas, if they had just pushed it over more they would have made it around with no fuss.

I've experienced this a few times on my first trip to ireland, went around a few bends too hot, panicked, stood the bike up, then managed to overcome my poor instincts, let off the brakes and pushed it over again. Ie - not only did the tyres get me around the corner, but they got me round it even after I had put the bike much deeper into the corner than it would normally have been.

I'm still trying to figure out the limits of my bike, my tyres and my riding. The first two are definitely way ahead of the latter.

Slightly off topic though it may seem, upgrading the bulb in my headlight did wonders for my confidence in riding in the dark. I swapped the std bulb for a phillips extreme (if I remember correctly) and the difference was significantly more than I would have expected for such a quick and cheap fix.
Edited: 15/12/2009 at 16:04
15/12/2009 at 16:53

They are basically my thoughts too, I have never been sure how much lean angle my bike and tyres can handle. Towards the end of summer as I was just getting into leaning the bike over and figuring out how much angle it can cope with (presumably a hell of a lot more than I can offer it) the cold struck and forced me to be more conservative.

I know people do trackdays over winter so presumably a fair amount of traction still exists, but it certainly deals a big blow to my confidence in the tyres. Anyone ever done one and wish to comment?

hextal wrote (see)

I've read a few articles in some of the mags where investigators have stated that people have crashed due to not having enough confidence in the grip of the tyres. In that they have gone in too hot, panicked, braked / stood the bike up and gone off the road, whereas, if they had just pushed it over more they would have made it around with no fuss. I've experienced this a few times on my first trip to ireland, went around a few bends too hot, panicked, stood the bike up, then managed to overcome my poor instincts, let off the brakes and pushed it over again. Ie - not only did the tyres get me around the corner, but they got me round it even after I had put the bike much deeper into the corner than it would normally have been. I'm still trying to figure out the limits of my bike, my tyres and my riding. The first two are definitely way ahead of the latter.

Thats a familiar story; in a tight, open view left hander near me I felt I was going in too fast, instinct had me pull in the front brake until the bike stood up and logic forced me to lean it in. I made it round but it was one of my more arse twitching moments on a bike. On a positive note, it did scrub off my left hand chicken strip .

I may look into some better bulbs, the 01 CBR ones are pretty bad, especially when covered in road salt, grime and the inside has fogged up.


If the Earth is the size of a pea in Britain, then the Sun is a beachball 50m away, Pluto is 4km away, and the next nearest star is in Tokyo. Now shrink Pluto's orbit into a coffee cup, then our Milky Way Galaxy fills North America

Edited: 15/12/2009 at 16:56
15/12/2009 at 21:28

What I was taught at a very early stage and what I preach as an instructor now is KEEP YOUR VISION UP! Remember that the rear wheel will always follow the front and if you start to focus on the bit of tarmac directly in front of the leading wheel that is where you end up (normally) Generally most bikes will far exceed what we are willing to ask of them so have faith in your machine and never ride out of your comfort zone!

 Alternatively ride like a twat, crash, and then blame someone else

16/12/2009 at 09:18
My winter commuter riding tends to be similar to my pillion riding. I change up the gears more quickly so as to not put too much power through the back end and my breaking changes from 80% front 20% back in summer to something like 60-40. It feels a lot smoother and a bit like driving miss daisy but its better than crashing!!!

When I'm up box hill or out for a razz on a winter weekend I tend to keep an eye out for shaded bits of road that may still be slippy and just ease off a bit until I'm back on the dry road. I also watch out for the low sun blinding you when you get round a bend.

take it easy.


16/12/2009 at 13:33

On the cold dry days, as long as you're not using race rubber, you'd be amazed how much grip there is.

Race rubber operates at a far higher narrower temp.

Road rubber as a larger temp range.

However, what you can't account for are micro climates. These are ares of shade cover that will catch you out as you come round a corner because the cold temperature never dries the surface or even de frost ice in some cases.

Smooth smooth smooth is the key and yes do not lean too far but do not be scared to lean either, doing this will tense you up on the bike and cause more problems.

17/12/2009 at 05:32

Apart from when there's ice on the ground I don't change my riding style much at all but that will be because I don't push anything to the limit in good conditions so I think I've got loads of spare capacity to use before I'm in trouble when they're bad. 

 Regarding the tyre grip, mine are all fairly hard compound and aren't affected much by temperature so, coupled with my lack of power, I've never worried about losing grip when the road is cold.  I do try to make sure I've plenty of tread depth for wet weather riding, though.

I'm slow and use my controls gently anyway so my experience isn't much use  to you. There is one hazard I can think of that is worse in the cold and that's petrol spillages. It can be as slippery as diesel but normally evaporates quickly. In winter it stays around for longer. Fortunately for me I've never slipped on diesel or petrol. Yet.


Everyone is entitled to my opinion.
17/12/2009 at 18:02

Good answers all thanks...

I don't tend to thrash around too much anyway but it's nice to think I can have a little more confidence in my rubber; will certainly be more aware of shady patches from now on, hadn't really considered them beyond looking out for dark patches on the road in general.

Cheers!


If the Earth is the size of a pea in Britain, then the Sun is a beachball 50m away, Pluto is 4km away, and the next nearest star is in Tokyo. Now shrink Pluto's orbit into a coffee cup, then our Milky Way Galaxy fills North America

20/12/2009 at 09:07
In the winter I pay a lot of attention to the road surface, trying to pick a line that avoids shaded areas where ice may lurk. I look well ahead to pick the best line that will maximise traction and I will sacrifice speed for extra safety.

I take it pretty easy until I've got some heat in the tyres and I will certainly be more cautious in wintry conditions. I am not at all bothered by wet roads - though I do make sure the tyres I use have plenty of tread and good wet performance (I am on Michelin PR2's currently).

And I leave the bike in the garage when it is icy or snowy.
20/12/2009 at 10:50
Yes I agree. Defensive riding includes making sure that we position so that car drivers are not misled and cannot occupy our safety zone. Plenty of riders do not pay enough attention to rear observation.

21/12/2009 at 12:23
The Spin Doctor wrote (see)

Well, I hope you parked up the bike for the snow, if it snowed in your area!!

A friend's son tried to ride at 4am in the morning and crashed his brand new £10,000 Fireblade at the end of his road! 

If you have to ride, get a ratbike with upright bars - it's much easier to handle. 


Yeah my bike is well and truly parked up; some of it was even fortunate enough to have been removed, cleaned and stored in a spare bedroom whilst I sort out some electrical and mechanical niggles.

As for the snow, I was driving home in the cage about midnight yesterday when the snow struck - I was certainly appreciative of the two extra wheels, windscreen wipers and the heater.


If the Earth is the size of a pea in Britain, then the Sun is a beachball 50m away, Pluto is 4km away, and the next nearest star is in Tokyo. Now shrink Pluto's orbit into a coffee cup, then our Milky Way Galaxy fills North America

25/12/2009 at 21:56

The best advice i would give is to take your riding skills a notch further by signing up to IAM (Institute of Advanced motorists) or Rospa / RoADA (royal society for the prevention of accidents Advanced Drivers/Riders Association)

Just in case you did'nt know...

In the main these are charity organisations with enthusiastic volunteer members who offer masses of knowledge and skill to likeminded people for very little money.

All the opinions in the world- whilst well-meaning- might only cause confusion so its best to get proper, accredited training.

At the very least try the Bikesafe or Enhanced Rider Scheme programmes as a taster.

For the time being take reducing your speed seriously and ride gently over questionable road surfaces; as smoothly as possible using throttle, brakes, steering and posture.

Don't want to be a bore (to a newish rider)  but reducing speed gives you more time to assess and react to road, weather and traffic conditions - and proper training will help improve your riding no end.

There is never a substitute for mileage under your belt so no fast-track methods here.

26/12/2009 at 12:43
Spin

Whilst I don't disagree with the general thrust of your comments, it is not entirely fair to say that the IAM observed ride approach is "unfocussed". I understand that you are a commercial trainer and hence have a business perspective that may encourage comments of this kind, but we do need to be balanced.

The IAM method does aim to identify particular areas that each rider aiming for the advanced test needs to work on. There is a method of recording this in writing so that if the associate sees a number of observers, they all know what is being worked upon. If the associate has a mentor (which is my preferred method) then the mentor will work at weaker areas. These are often specific things as improving cornering skill, but equally often they are general skills such as encouraging the rider to be more confident. The RoSPA group I'm familiar with operates similarly.

As to cost, IAM charges £139 for it's skills for life course. This gets you the new IAM book on how to be an advanced rider (which is quite good), the test fee, membership of your local IAM bike club and as many hours of observed rides as you need to get through the test. It also of course includes access to the social riding side of clubs - this is a big factor for many people. Some clubs ask for a voluntary contribution of £5 of £10 per ride, given to the observer to cover his petrol and bike costs. This is optional though and some observers refuse it and others (myself included) donate it to the training fund.

The amount of help that associates need varies hugely. But we try to deliver whatever is required - and sometimes this is very many hours.

It is sometimes better to go for professional training. Indeed this was the route that I took initially (I had a few days with a guy called Jon Taylor who is well known in this field). But to do so can be quite a bit more expensive than going the IAM or RoSPA route if you feel that you want several days of intensive training. I suspect that many riders who would benefit most from some training are not able (or sometimes not willing) to afford it. This particularly applies to some younger riders, unfortunately.









26/12/2009 at 14:35
Spin

I wonder how current or extensive your experience of IAM groups is? (This is rhetorical not a challenge). Attending some observed rides does not convey much about how a group operates. One has to be involved for quite a while to get a balanced and realistic view. We must also recognize that things change over time and maybe were you to be involved with a good large group again you might see things in a different way if you approach us with an open mind. I expect clubs vary in quality - just as individual observers and indeed professional trainers do.

Your point about IAM groups not recommending professional trainers is an interesting one. I suspect that part of the reason for this, if you are correct, is that many IAM observers simply do not know many professional trainers. My own group DOES recommend professional trainers - and we use them ourselves sometimes. We have a good relationship with Rapid Training and the aforementioned Jon Taylor, among others. We also have a good relationship with a couple of DAS trainers and a training school run by a dealer. Obviously Geography plays a part.

I suspect that many IAM groups would welcome professional trainers such as yourself coming to talk to us. And I am sure that trainers with a good reputation and manner would get additional business this way.

As to the IAM getting too much air time on the forum, it is meant to cover advanced riding after all and hence is a broad church.

Please be assured I am not knocking professional training at all, Nor do I think the IAM way is right for everyone. I just think the "us and them" stance that we can get into in forums like this is unnecessary and might stifle an articulate exchange of views.
26/12/2009 at 17:16
Well Spin

I haven't posted which IAM or RoSPA groups I am involved with. JT and Rapid are active with several. It is odd to approach the "Committee" within a club. For the most part the Committee deals with things like organizing club events, social stuff, ride outs and the club magazine.

Training related activities are dealt with by the Chief Observer who delegates to the training team as appropriate. So maybe you got hold of the wrong person in whichever club it was?

No matter, the odd example here and there is not a reason for anyone to fall out. In practice I don't think there is much that you and I disagree about in respect of riding or training methodology.

I have not read any posts from IAM or RoSPA members that stifle debate, but of course I do not have your background on this forum. I certainly have read some exceptionally stupid and prejudiced views from IAM members (often car drivers) in the umbrella organization's magazine. And some of the motorcycle related "research" they publish is crass beyond belief.

But the true bikers and good observers in the clubs just laugh at this nonsense. I think there is probably a strong groundswell in the IAM bike clubs that value the club activities, that work selflessly to deliver the best coaching and advice that they can .....but who don't give a damn about the IAM as an official body.

The IAM bike clubs have some outstanding riders in them (along with some iffy ones) and some people who really can get a message across in a way that other bikers can grasp. The key, as with any training, is differentiating the good from the mediocre.

The clubs have an advantage that they contain people from all walks of life. Guys in the army, police, plumber,s mechanics, unemployed, shop workers, professional teachers, lawyers, accountants, doctors, researchers. But they share a common interest in improving skills and safety - and having some fun. To me the biggest benefit of the IAM is not the rather meaningless "advanced test" but the benefits of the bike clubs themselves.

My own view is that "fogey" image of old school IAM is a handicap. I also think that the word "advanced" is a misguided. The "I'm more advanced than you" undercurrent that some people adopt, is often counterproductive and equally often de-motivating.


30/12/2009 at 21:47

Hey Guys...

Didn,t think i'd be responsible for starting such a fiery debate.

I have to accept being a "dickhead" for getting carried away with my comments on a purely "unqualified" level.

Ok so i,ve done a couple of courses DIAmond, IAM  blah blah, and i,m gonna contact a guy in the spring to polish up a bit and maybe try and get a Rospa / ROada qualification too.

In no way do i think certificates make me a better rider -  in fact (call it an inferiority complex if you like )  i never feel satisfied that  i have learned anything more or improved... despite my enthusiasm.

I hope  i always have this attitude...

I ride an old style Yamaha FAZER 600 that i;ve had from new since 2000. And we often see certain club members "stereotyped" because of their choice of steed.

Who Cares - healthy debate wouldn,t happen if we all said and did the same things as each other.

My unrehearsed opinions (having reflected on them)  would be better kept to myself unless i can argue my case ... but thats never gonna happen.

For me, i just love bikes and the "advanced" type of riding; more than i ever thought i would have years ago.

I  get a buzz seeing some super-smooth rider going about their day with a commanding aura about them.

I suppose thats the type of thing i myself aspire to.

Dont get bitter guys - we all love the same thing

31/12/2009 at 13:36
The Black Prince wrote (see)
As to the IAM getting too much air time on the forum, it is meant to cover advanced riding after all and hence is a broad church. Please be assured I am not knocking professional training at all, Nor do I think the IAM way is right for everyone. I just think the "us and them" stance that we can get into in forums like this is unnecessary and might stifle an articulate exchange of views.

Do you think this forum would be a broader church if it didn't have "advanced riding' in the title as this could be off-putting for newbies and the non-advanced? Are the less able hesitant to put forward their views if they differ from the advanced riders amongst you, whether IAM, ROSPA, cycling proficiency, Class 1, BTech etc? This place used to be full of all levels of people posting regularly but not these days. I'm aware that the software is rubbish but is that the only reason for the lack of input?

m011i3 wrote

Didn,t think i'd be responsible for starting such a fiery debate.

Troublemaker.

m011i3 wrote

I have to accept being a "dickhead" for getting carried away with my comments on a purely "unqualified" level.

Ok so i,ve done a couple of courses DIAmond, IAM  blah blah, and i,m gonna contact a guy in the spring to polish up a bit and maybe try and get a Rospa / ROada qualification too.

Show off.

m011i3 wrote (see)

Dont get bitter guys - we all love the same thing

Somehow I seriously doubt that.


Everyone is entitled to my opinion.
Edited: 31/12/2009 at 13:42
31/12/2009 at 14:30
Well in my case I love my sexy girlfriend, but I merely like biking. Bikes are good but they can't do the things she does

To answer the question I think the word "advanced" probably does put some people off posting here as well as joining IAM bike clubs. It is something of a misnomer in that all we are talking about is improving our skills.

04/01/2010 at 14:48

thread clean up please..?

i want to read about winter riding rather than a heated debate by someone trying to prove a point on Spins Forum

 ...i'm here to Read advice from Spin, not ROSPA and IAM.
i'm pretty sure they have their own forums if i want good information for free..?
...dont they..?

04/01/2010 at 17:53

WInter Riding???

I went on a bike ride New Years day with a bunch of folk like-minded, and the gritted roads were fine to ride on.

A good post-ride hosedown was needed though...

Missus thought i had "lost it" !

Me an her have an "open" relationship - she keeps "open" i'll leave

Must admit though my heated grips didn't really make much improvement - wind chill probably so i just got some bar "muffs" for next time i go out in less than ideal temperatures.

Despite all the right clothing,thermals, gloves etc i only really feel the cold on the fingers.

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