As the mercury dips and the frosty season beckons, it's time to talk about prepping your beloved motorcycle for winter riding. Yes, you heard that right – winter riding! Because why should the joy of motorcycling be limited to just the warmer months? With the right preparation, winter rides can be just as exhilarating, offering a whole new perspective on the roads we love. Let’s dive into how you can enjoy the winter on your bike safely and comfortably.
First things first, gear up. Dressing appropriately is the best way to minimise heat loss and enjoy your ride. Think layers – several thin layers of modern clothing designed to shield you from the extreme cold. Remember, your clothes are your only protection against the elements. An extra base layer underneath your riding gear can make a huge difference.
While it might sound like something your mum would say, it’s crucial to ‘wrap up warm’. When temperatures drop below 10°C, riding a motorcycle starts to affect your body more than you realise. Invest in a high-quality pair of winter gloves, and make sure they fit snugly under the cuffs of your jacket. A neck warmer tucked into your jacket collar can also be a game-changer.
If you’re riding in fog or after dark, high-visibility clothing with reflective layers is a must to make yourself as visible as possible to other road users.
Visibility is key. Scratched visors can turn oncoming headlights into blinding starbursts, while misted-up visors are downright dangerous. Fit a pin-lock visor insert and adjust it for a snug fit to forget about visor misting. After every trip, clean your visor with kitchen roll soaked in water and dry it carefully with a soft cloth. A defogging agent for your visor can also be a great addition to ensure clear visibility.
Check Tyre Depth
Winter roads can be tricky with snow, ice, and slush. Ensure your tyres are up to the challenge with a good tread depth. The legal minimum depth is 1mm, so you should be well above that. Colder temperatures can also reduce tyre pressures, so make it a habit to check these before each journey.
Check Motorcycle Liquids
Maintain your engine's health by regularly changing its oil. Over time, oil gathers harmful contaminants that accelerate corrosion and contribute to early engine deterioration. Start by warming up the engine to loosen the oil, then thoroughly drain the old oil before replenishing it with the specific viscosity grade advised in your vehicle's manual.
Remember to monitor your anti-freeze levels too. Contemporary, liquid-cooled engines rely heavily on the efficiency of the coolant in their radiators. Adhere strictly to the manufacturer's guidelines for changing the coolant to ensure optimal performance.
Check Your Battery
Bike batteries have a tough time over the winter months, as lower temperatures slow the chemical reaction. So it’s best to give batteries an easier time on the road and make sure your battery is charged before heading out.
Lubricate Your Bike Chain
Your motorcycle’s chain is the spine of the bike in many ways, enabling movement by transferring power to the rear wheel, so it’s crucial it’s taken care of. Regularly clean and lubricate your bike’s drive chain, or risk damaging it. Lubricate it at least weekly if being used, and always do it AFTER riding. This lets the lubricant seep into all the gaps rather than being flung off immediately.
Riding in the Snow
If you're daring enough to ride in snow and ice, consider snow chains over regular tyres. This can prevent your bike from getting stuck.
Winter roads are not the place to push your bike's limits. Opt for a slower pace and watch your distance. Braking distances are doubled on wet roads and multiplied tenfold on icy roads. Even in mild weather, watch out for ice patches or black ice. Stick to main roads as they're more likely to be gritted.
Have Breakdown Cover
Accidents can happen, and you do not want to be stuck in freezing conditions without appropriate cover. Ensure you have breakdown cover for peace of mind.
Make sure your bike is winter-ready with a MOT and service from Cradley Kawasaki. We’re an official Kawasaki dealership, supplier and servicer based in Cradley Heath, Birmingham and have been this way for five decades, making us one of the oldest Kawasaki-approved motorbike shops in the UK. Our workshop has a vivid passion for keeping motorcycles in top condition and maintaining their health, so you can get the most enjoyment out of your beloved machine. Reach out to us with either a general enquiry, reserving a bike, setting up a part exchange or booking a test drive today.