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Discuss: is it possible to ride all through winter?

Is riding through winter realistic or idealistic?

COME October, if you listen carefully, you might be able to hear the closing of garage doors up and down the land. It’s a decisive sound because for some, it signals the start of the annual winter break from riding.

But do you really have to concede to the cold and mothball your bike during the cold and dark months?

The winter might be a more testing time to be put on a bike, but it’s not insurmountable.

Or is it?

Is it really possible to continue riding when the roads get covered in that seasonal coating of perma-grease, when freezing cold rain relentlessly puts your kit to the test, when salt wages war on your bike and when the sun is a distant memory by 4.30pm?

Yes  – Shaun Cronin, IAM

Of course it is, but you need to put safety first. Obviously, if the roads are covered in ice or snow, don’t be a muppet – stay off the road. But after that, there’s nothing to fear from riding in cold or wet conditions. In fact, if you’re prepared to ride in wet conditions, it often makes you a better rider, just steer clear of wet leaves and drain covers.These days, with much higher quality kit on the market, including heated garments, there’s no reason to get cold and wet any more. Providing the road surface is safe, you can ride through the winter months quite happily.

Probably not, unless you're a short-distance rider - Steve Farrell, Visordown Editor

I ride in all seasons but don’t kid myself that deepest winter can’t stop me. I do a long-distance commute of 60 miles each way. It used to be 80 miles each way. We’ve had a few mild ones lately but from 2009-2011 we endured spells of heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures for three winters in a row – what the papers like to call a ‘big freeze’. In those conditions, what stops you riding 160 miles a day isn’t the cold, or even the road surface, since salt usually takes care of that - but visibility. Snow lands on your visor, causing it to mist up inside. When you lift it, the snow gets inside too, where you can’t wipe it away. Freezing fog forms a layer of ice over your visor as you ride, which you can’t wipe off with a glove. Some people are adamant that nothing stops them riding but I don’t think they ride very far.

Are you an all-weather rider, and if so, how come? And if you don’t ride through winter, why not? Let us know in the comments section.

And if you do plan on riding through winter, check out our winter riding tips.

 

Comments

Visibility? fit a nose height screen and keep visor slightly open for a clear view.
Short journeys? couriers run well over 500 mile days all year, just be extra careful on minor roads.

I've been riding for 40 years now in all weathers,never owned a car. when I was younger I rode in all conditions,pretty much because I was too stupid to realise how dangerous it could be despite several tumbles. I learned a lot the painful and for years afterwards stayed safe by learning how to navigate slippery roads and realising that it doesn't matter how long your journey takes as long as you arrive in one piece. These days I stick to the city when Wintry weather hits and don't venture into the sticks unless I've checked the forecasts,Police local traffic information website and finally phoning the people I intend to visit for an on the ground view of conditions.If my elderly parents didn't live in the middle of nowhere I would be hacking across the Moors in winter at all. My flat and my workplace are both off of main roads and don't get gritted so more than once I've left my bike parked securely a mile away and walked the rest while using the main roads safely that make up most of my journey. Only if it's very bad do I leave the bike and get Taxis,I'd say maybe 10 days in the last 10 years.
Always wear proper gear,if you're cold you're not concentrating and cold fingers with hand controls are just asking for trouble. I was finally converted to heated grips fairly recently and now wouldn't have a bike without them. I'm a very experienced and confident rider,that doesn't make me complacent,but those who are not are often at risk because of that. New or nervous riders often tense up when they perceive danger which is a hazard all of it's own and if you ride expecting to fall off there's a good chance you will.

Only in the UK is this a question. In other countries people do ride year round.

dudeofrude's picture

I think for some it comes down to necessity. Not everybody owns a car as well as a bike so they don't have much choice. I personally have both but the car is for the family so I will take the bike to work unless I can either get a lift or the cars not being used. That being said I will try and drive when ever the weather is bad simply because I don't see the point of making myself deliberately miserable. Nobody likes being wet or cold haha

HoopsIRL_2's picture

My preference would be to on the bike every day. I use it for work (only 20 miles each way) & for fun. I leave for work at about 6:15am, so any frost/ice means no riding :). Yes - I own a car (known as the shopping trolley), but that only does about 3000km a year. For the last three winters (2013, 2014, 2015) I managed to ride the bike every day to work, except for 22 days. However, there is a downside to this.It depends on the bike you ride. I bought Thunderbird 1600 new in 2010 & love it to bits (no electronic gadgetry), handles great (Serviced regularly). LOTS of chrome/Aluminium (stuff to rot)...and it got rightly wrecked over three winters..does not seem to matter that I hosed it down every evening. Silencers dropped off, as did other bits due to corrosion. Bill for repairs? €5000+...
Lesson: Take bike off the road for the winter OR Buy a bike with fewer corrosive bits :)
Any advice welcome! :D

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