IN THE Visordown office, we breathe a collective sigh of dismay as winter starts to bite. With short days, low temperatures, wet, greasy, salt-ridden roads and poor visibility, it’s not a season that’s particularly kind to us but that doesn’t mean we have to stop riding once conditions become a bit trickier.
While some riders tuck their bikes away at this time of year, for some, riding through the winter is a fact of life and if like us, you’ve got no intention of giving up your enjoyment of riding at this time of year, here are some tips for facing old man winter head on (and kicking him in the nuts).
Make sure you keep warm
Obvious, hey? This almost goes without saying but without decent winter kit, you're doomed. If you’re cold, wet and suffering from numb hands and a cold core, you’ll be distracted, your reaction times will suffer and you’ll risk not being in proper control of your bike.
Buy the best kit you can afford and ditch the leathers – textile jackets and trousers will be most effective at keeping you dry and insulated. You want something with a thick, warm lining and look out for any technical materials that could fend off rain and road spray – a Gore-Tex membrane is always a good bet.
It’s the same story with boots and gloves – you want waterproof boots and gloves with a warm, thick lining that’ll keep your hands insulted against the wind and rain. It’s critical you keep your hands well protected from the cold because once you get numb fingers, your fine motor skill suffers and coming off the motorway with little feel for how much pressure you’re putting through the front brake lever is never a nice feeling. If you’re off on a long journey, carry a spare pair of gloves with you.
Base layers will help keep you warm under your clothes and jacket/trousers. Merino base layers are comfortable and good at trapping heat, and there are plenty of windproof leggings and long-sleeved tops out there that’ll give you an extra layer of defence against the chill in the air.
If you really want to stay toasty this winter, it worth investing in a heated vest, like this one from Keiss. Honesty, get one of these and you’ll wonder how you survived without one.