Riding A Motorcycle In The Snow
Winter has now come around and the roads are covered in snow and ice, you may think at this point that you’re riding season is over, however this is not necessarily the case.
When riding a motorcycle in the snow there are a whole set of new factors that you need to take into account, as your riding style will need to change considerably in order for you to stay upright and arrive at your destination in one piece, without bruising.
Of course one option is to leave the motorcycle in the garage and then end up catching a train, bus or cab to work, which is probably the safest option. However, being the motorcycle riders that we are, we all want to get the longest season possible.
You also may not always have the option of leaving the motorcycle at home. You may find that you are out riding one day and end up getting stuck in a snow storm, so it is important to know what you should do in order to get to a safe position where you can then park your bike and re-evaluate the situation.
Here are a few tips which may just save your life.
Are you a new rider? Start off first with our beginner article on “How To Ride A Motorbike“.
Watch the weather reports
Riding a motorcycle in the snow should be done preferably only when you want to, not because you’re forced to. Keep an eye on the weather reports so that you know what to expect the next time that you are out riding. Unfortunately poor weather is one of the unfortunate things that we have to deal with when riding motorcycles, read out list of “A Disadvantage Of Driving A Motorcycle Is“.
Avoid the compacted stuff
There are two main types of snow material on the road that we can see. The first is the fresh powder which has not yet been driven over by any other vehicles, the second is the compacted stuff that has now turned to ice.
It is the compacted snow that is the real worry, as this is incredibly slippery and can cause you to lose control, fast.
Go light on the brakes
The first change to your controls that you need to make when riding a motorcycle in the snow is to lighten up on your braking. We all know that when riding in the rain we can easily lock up a front or rear tire if we are too hot on the brakes, this is just increased tenfold when riding in the snow.
Light on the throttle
We now know that we need to be light on the brakes, however we also need to look at the other side of things. When you’re looking to put on the throttle ensure that this is done very slowly, as any sudden increases of throttle will be as though you are trying to accelerate on oil. The loss of traction of your rear wheel will happen incredibly quickly. Also take this into consideration when you’re coming out of corners or you will find yourself sideways if you try to put the power on before you have straightened the bike up.
Light on the steering
Any steering that we are doing must be completed very lightly, as we are essentially just dancing on ice. You’ll also want to be riding at a slow speed where you are not relying on counter steering to go around the corners.
Only one input at a time
You have brakes, you can turn your bars or you can use the throttle, pick one. If you decide to do two of these at the same time when riding a motorcycle in the snow it is very likely that you will lose control.
No brakes through corners
Following on from the last point, you will want enter the corner at a speed which you are comfortable at keeping right until you exit. If you attempt to brake midway through the turn then it is likely that you will lock up either a front or rear wheel.
Watch out for other drivers
Drivers will do some crazy things even in the best of times, this is just intensified when the snow is falling down. Let the drivers pass you if they are impatient and give them much larger stopping distances than usual. The key here is to keep the cages a long distance away whenever possible. You aren’t in a race.
Careful when you stop
So now you have safely arrived at a set of traffic lights, or even at time. Don’t think that it is all worthy yet, be sure to carefully place your feet down. Quite often you will find that when you place your feet is icy and he will have no grip.
Also when you stop you should keep an eye behind you, as cages have trouble stopping in the snow too. Be ready to make your escape if you see a car sliding towards you who is clearly not going to stop. This should be a common check for all riders at traffic lights in all weather conditions, not just when riding a motorcycle in the snow.
Clean your visor
When riding a motorcycle in the snow you want to ensure that your visibility is as good as possible, so make sure that you clean your visor as often as possible.
Increase your comfort level with every chance you get. One excellent addition that can be made to almost any motorcycle are heated handgrips. These should keep the majority of your fingers warm, which will allow for greater sensitivity and control over your brakes, steering and throttle.
The key that we need to take away from this article is that we are essentially dancing on ice. Make sure that any inputs are as gentle as possible and only place yourself in the situation of riding a motorcycle in the snow on your own terms.
Do you have experience riding a motorcycle in the snow, or maybe you have extra tips? We would love to hear from you so please leave your comments in the section below.
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