A week ago I said that the nights were drawing in, that there was a chill in the evening air and that it was possibly time to put a jumper on under the leather jacket. Well, today I can announce that the week of autumn is now over and winter has arrived! This morning there was a frost, and I in my infinite wisdom decided that it wasn’t that cold and so rode the bike into work in summer gloves and jeans. This was a bit optimistic of me and it took 2 cups of coffee and a meeting standing by a radiator to remedy the situation. In honor of my lack of preparation today’s post is all about riding in cold weather.
Not faked, this was after a ride in freezing fog!
Wind is your enemy, this morning’s 32°f dropped to a decidedly nippy 11°f when riding at 70mph, and if like me you were stupid enough to do that wearing summer gloves and jeans then you deserve the dead fingers and uncontrollable shivers after 25 minutes in the saddle. Everyone who rides in the winter knows about how cold it can get and has their own ways of keeping warm, but, let us face it, winter motorcycling is never going to be at the top of the list of things you want to do today.
Riding in this morning was a good reminder of just how dangerous it can be and it is not the obvious danger of slippery patches that I am talking about. You have to watch out of people pulling out on you, unable to see properly due to frost covered windows and mirrors. You also have to bear in mind that some people might be crawling round your favorite corners worried about possible ice, even on a dry road and this is at a time when your reactions might well be at their slowest. I certainly noticed this morning that the cold affected the speed I reacted and my control on the brakes, luckily I noticed this without incident and slowed down before pain and suffering happened.
There are ways of keeping warm however, it just depends on the depth of your wallet and your pride you can always go and buy an electrically heated suit and electrically heated gloves or grips to go with it, just remember to upgrade your stator if you are going to use them for any length of time. Or at the other end of the spectrum, if you ride a rat or just don’t care about looking cool you can cut up a five liter polybin and make a couple of wind protectors from that. These actually worked so well when I tried them on an old XT500 I had I invested in some decent looking brush guards for my Bandit. They worked to, not quite as well but they certainly made a difference and were aesthetically a lot more pleasing.
Easily adapted for motorcycling use!
Riding a bike in the cold certainly is an experience I would rather avoid but I also want to avoid not riding my bike for 5 months of the year. It is bit like riding in the rain, you don’t want to do it, but the alternative is not riding, and that is worse.
Stay safe (and warm)