Winter motorcycling tips

Face winter head-on with these tips for riding through to spring


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).

1. 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 Keis. Honestly, get one of these and you’ll wonder how you survived without one.


Before I ride I seriously check the local weather radar on-line. Get caught once and you'll never do it again. (unless you're really dumb) Winter storms move in very fast. Road salt, especially after it's been ground down into a powder, is murder on motorcycle air cleaners, chrome parts and chains. Painted surfaces don't fare much better. My biggest fear is black ice. In that condition you have NO control of anything. But when the conditions are right, I'm out there.

BubbaDaytona's picture

Even above freezing, black ice can appear in low areas, and no one can ride through black ice. All motorcycle rubber is designed to work above 7C. Roads are filthy, light is poor. Winter is just not for bikes.

Excellent advice Visordown. Clothing, Tech and Tyres are all available winter friendly these days, unlike Doucheriders obviously.

Comfysofa's picture

I don't do rain and I don't do ice. Anything else I'm fine with. My advice would be to get a cheap car for the really bad weather. I bought a little Toyota IQ. Cheap to insure, cheap to service and free to tax. On the really bad days its a godsent. As it only gets used on rainy days it needs nearly no maintenance. In 6 years its had 2 tyres (40 quid each) and new pads and discs on the front at a total of 60 quid.

Worth sharing. If your really want to enjoy rides in winter must have your riding kit that includes gloves, jackets and boots to give yourself a strong defense against cold.

The winter tips you said are good and very important especially for beginners. In my opinion motorcycling in winter isn't bad or very dangerous. It depends on your bike and your skills. If you have a enduro and very good skills and you prepare yourself good for the winter, there is nothing to be said against it but if your a pure beginner or you think you ride your r6 in winter then its maybe not the best decision.
I have a motorcycle blog were i help people finding their dream bike and thank you i will upgrade my blog and will give riding tips and what you have to look for because i think that riding a motorcycle is once but riding a motorcycle safe and be prepared for bad conditions is another very important part.

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