It’s Wednesday morning and time to head off for work. You look outside and the rain is coming down in sheets, the windows look frozen and the sky looks like a Google image search result for ‘grim’. Your dog is hiding under the table in case anyone tries to suggest a walk. Why would anyone want to get on the back of a motorcycle in weather like this?
Bikers are a notoriously hardy breed and there’s nothing they enjoy more than a challenge. But they’re not stupid – so share a bit of their sense and adopt these tips for warm winter riding.
Fill up your tank
The best way to ensure your body fights off the cold is to eat a hearty meal before you leave the front door. Your body burns food just like your bike burns fuel and you need more in winter to keep your motor burning and your body warm. So frosty January weekend rides out are an ideal excuse for a good pre-event fry up.
The fastest way to warm up after a subzero ride is with a large mug of something hot. If you have a motorcycle pannier you can take a flask with you in case you’re stuck on the road side or want to pull off for a bit to enjoy the view. Coffee, tea, Bovril – whatever floats your boat.
Get a second skin
They aren’t exactly the most fashionable biker gear on the market but a good set of thermals act like a second layer of skin. They’re breathable and insulating, so the heat you create won’t get carried away by the howling wind. Plus you will look miles better smiling in a full kit than squirming in a summer jacket.
Bright early nights
Car drivers do not have the best reputation when it comes to looking out for bikers. Make sure they know you’re around, even in gloomy weather or dark evenings by investing in bright clothing. That way they have no excuse not to ‘Think Bike’ as you’re cruising back home.
It’s good to talk
One thing that can truly spoil a biker’s day is getting stuck with a flat tyre or your engine failing just as the rain starts to cascade. It really is no fun to be stuck on the road side in the winter but you can shorten the pain by making sure you set off with your mobile safely fastened in your pocket and fully charged. That way at least you won’t have to walk three miles to reach a phone.
Wear something windproof
There’s no point wearing thick clothing and stocking up on hot drinks if you’re going to let the icy breeze blow all of your heat into the distance. Defend yourself against the storm by wearing a jacket and trousers that are fully windproof. Leather clothing is great for this or alternatively you can find good quality textiles to guard against the cold. Try this Duchinni Trax Leather Jacket, it benefits from leather and textile and stops the wind while remaining more flexible than most leather clothing.
If your hands are cold the rest of you is always going to feel uncomfortable. Kit yourself up against the chill-factor with a pair of decent leather or high quality textile gloves. These can be bought with armour installed to protect your mitts from scrapes and knocks. Try this range on for size at Ghostbikes shop, or visit their store, in Preston, UK and check out their range in person.
Hot grips are a warming device developed specifically for motorcycle riders. They heat the handlebars of your sports bike to keep your fingers free of the cold. Grips are battery powered and you can adjust the temperature via small switches that fix just under your handlebars.
Put a sock in it
It’s always been one of those old home truths that if your feet feel painful then the rest of you will also feel sore. One of the best ways to keep this sensitive part of your body comfortable and warm is to invest in proper socks. They should come up to somewhere between your ankle and your knee and be made from a thick, breathable material that doesn’t feel rough.
…and in the event of a complete winter wipeout
It’s no fun if the downpour arrives and you end up getting soaked, especially if you’re miles away from home and out for the whole day. You can avoid this unhappy scenario easily by taking a spare change of clothes with you. That way you’ll be drier than half the people in the office who have had to run from the car park in their Armani suits. Make sure your spare clothes don’t get soaked too though…maybe invest in a waterproof pannier, just to be on the safe side.
If these tips leave you shuddering at the thought of stepping out the door then put that bike back in the garage – there’s always next summer to look forward to.