Just because the weather has turned cold does not mean it is time to park your motorcycle in the garage until the warmer days return. Many bikers living in a cold climate refuse to store their motorcycles away for the cold winter months. However, it is important to make motor cycle riding safer during the winter season. The following recommendations can help when the temperatures dip way below comfortable. They include:
- Layer Your Clothing – A thick layering of clothing can keep your body insulated so you can remain toasty warm while riding. It is best to have a breathable light base layer that will trap the warmth your body is producing while wicking away the perspiration you generate under all of your clothes. Before riding, it is essential to check your layers of clothes to ensure that your movement is not restricted. This will ensure you ride safely.
- Trap All Your Body Heat – Now that your clothing is layered, it is essential to keep your head and hands warm to ensure that no body heat can escape. This will require that you seal all gaps between your gloves and jacket. To maximize comfort, consider gloves with microfiber or silk layers against your skin.
- Hydrate – When the body is cold, it is more challenging to feel thirsty like when it is too hot. Many times, we tend to become easily dehydrated without realizing our body’s need for water. In addition, dehydration leads to fatigue which can make it significantly more challenging to remain alert to combat dangerous hazards ahead.
- Check the Quality of Your Tires – The slippery and icy surfaces in many areas in Illinois can cause you to lose control of your bike without a moment’s notice. Because of that, the quality of your tires must be at their best. If your tires are six years or older, according to their manufacturing date next to the DOT markings, it is likely time to purchase new ones. In addition, it is essential to ensure that the tires have a minimum of 50 percent tread life to have enough grip to keep the bike upright.
- Maintain Optimal Tire Pressure – Once the temperatures begin to dip, it is essential to pay special attention to the air pressure in both tires. This is because colder air inside the tire causes the air to restrict, which lowers its pressure. Read the side of the tire to see the manufacturer’s recommended pounds per square inch (PSI).
- Prepare for Road Conditions – The streets and highways throughout Illinois are often brutalized by winter’s wrath. Potholes, gravel, accumulated leaves, sand and construction debris can create dangerous and hazardous conditions. One way to combat these problems is to keep your eyes focused far ahead and always prepare for the worst. Winter’s most successful motorcycle riders scan far into the horizon to look for potholes, steel plates on the roadway, and accumulated sand and salt on the road.
- How to Handle Frost, Ice and Snow – Illinois is notorious for its freezing rain that can quickly turn into black ice and create a dangerous hazard that causes one or both tires to lose their grip on the roadway. These conditions can easily occur in windy locations like tunnels, bridges and where tree undergrowth blocks the sun. If you spot short patches of black ice, slow down, do not apply the brakes and remain loose (do not tense up) to avoid taking a spill.
Just because the winter months are here does not mean the motorcycle season has ended. Many bikers addicted to riding on two wheels find the adventure of conquering the elements alluring. However, to successfully make it to the other end of the winter season it is crucial to ensure you and your bike are winterized and fully prepared to tackle Illinois roads.
It is important to remember that Mother Nature has stacked the deck against you when you ride during the cold months of the year. If you are in doubt of any hazards ahead, brake early, slow the bike down and lower your gears to prepare for the unseen and unexpected. Never hesitate to pull off at the next exit where you can find a place to warm up, wait for conditions to change and regroup before heading back out into the cold weather.