Hello and welcome to Alex’s Blog. This week, as the days are getting colder and frostier, I thought I would focus on winter biking tips. We’ve done maintaining the bike, we’ve done wrapping yourself up warm, but how about the actual act of motorcycling in Winter? Who better to help me with that than Derek from our Oakmere store. Derek, aka “General Mayhem” is a long-standing motorcycle instructor who now also works in our Oakmere store. As an all-year-round rider he’s often asked about riding in winter and here are the pearls of wisdom that he has deemed to share.
Derek’s favourite phrase about winter riding is don’t forget Bernoulli’s principle, (I know right? OBVIOUSLY, that was on the tip of your tongue, mine too!) but more about that later.
You need to be warm and dry, it’s hard to concentrate if your ‘core’ temperature drops and even more difficult to operate the controls when your fingers are frozen solid! Equally, you don’t want to be too hot as this also saps your concentration. You want to be like the porridge that Goldilocks chowed down – “just right”.
To help you be that we have lots of great items to make you that illusive “just right”.
Heated Gloves are a great way to keep you warm, and can be turned off if you get too hot. The RST 2646 Thermotech gloves are new in and with adjustable heat settings these are also waterproof making them the ideal glove for colder weather (especially in our climate!)
Heated Grips are extremely popular. These can be fitted to the bike all year round and used at your leisure. The Oxford HotGrips are our best sellers. They have adjustable heat settings, can be fitted to most bikes (other sizes are available as well) and are extremely easy to fit. Definitely worth the money.
The Oxford Carbon Heated Vest is another great buy. This keeps you lovely and cosy on a cold day but without being too bulky. This is powered by a lightweight lithium battery and is washable.
Another good way to keep yourself warm is using base layers and thermals. The Oxford Layers Cool Dry 1 piece under suit wicks and breathes to help regulate your temperature for all riding conditions. This also has 20% off!
Another great way of stopping wind chill affecting you is to use handlebar muffs. The Bike-It Boxer Bar Muffs are very easy to fit without the hassle or fuss of attaching to your battery. They shield you from the cold and the wind and are easily removable as well.
We have a lot of rainwear available to keep you dry out on the bike. The IXS Cannes 2 piece waterproof suit is a best seller. This is lightweight and easy to store while being such good quality that it still has a “sturdiness” to it and is, of course, 100% waterproof.
If your helmet visor has a Pinlock – use it – Pinlocks, a nose guard and your helmets ventilation will stop your visor misting up therefore helping your visibility in difficult conditions.
Your visor should be clean with no scratches – in low sunlight or night-time streetlamps you are more likely to notice scratches in your visor. You don’t need these distractions.
The worst effect you will see is when you have lots of little mini-scratches which are almost invisible to the naked eye becoming the “Starburst Effect”. When headlights are coming towards you these mini-scratches will refract the light all over the place ‘lighting-up your visor’ and blinding you.
Time to call in to one of our 30 stores nationwide to talk about replacement options.
Goes without saying but your tyres should have a good tread depth and check the pressures – they will drop on the colder days and it will take them longer to warm-up. The lower the tyre pressure the more rubber you have on the road; not a good thing as the bike will slide under you.
The winter salt and muck on the road will coat the lights on your bike so a regular clean is in order – plus obviously check they work. Think about carrying spare bulbs just in case, they always seem to blow at the most inconvenient time. You don’t want that time to be at daft o’clock miles away when it has just started sleeting, all the shops are closed, and it is pitch black.
The first thing about winter riding is obviously the low sun, if your helmet doesn’t have an internal sun visor it may be worth an early Christmas present to yourself, much easier (and safer) than putting sunglasses on and off constantly.
Couple of examples are:
AGV K3 SV Helmet
Frank Thomas FT36SV Helmet
The nastiest things about winter fog are that it’s intermittent and usually freezing. Fog is bad news because you can’t hear, can’t see, and you spend way too much time wiping your visor and not concentrating on what’s ahead.
This is where you need NikWax Visor Proof. Just spray this on to your visor and the moisture outside just beads, making life a LOT easier in rain, fog and sleet.
Winter distances are different. Car drivers only have a single light to judge how far away a biker is, it is easier with two headlights, and as the light fades so do reference points so people lose the ability to accurately judge distances and speeds. The onus is on the biker to be more vigilant, you are the one at risk after all. So definitely make sure that you take this in to account whilst riding in winter. Extra caution is essential, it could even be lifesaving.
Then we have micro-climates and other surface anomalies, which is where Bernoulli’s principle comes in. Bernoulli’s Principle is: “In fluid dynamics, an increase in the speed of a fluid occurs simultaneously with a decrease in pressure or a decrease in the fluid’s potential energy.” So, the air passing over a curved surface is faster than the air below or in practical terms on bridges the faster air cools the top of the bridge so there may not be ice on the bridge ramps but there will be on the top.
In winter you need to be more aware of worn tarmac and car tyre grooves; your bike’s tyres won’t be as warm as they have been earlier in the year, or have the same levels of grip to get you out of trouble and both of these road discrepancies can throw you off line.
Other snippets from Derek or General Mayhem are:
- If it’s shiny – it’s slippy.
- If it’s brown (mud/leaves) – it’s slippy.
- White lines – they’re slippy.
- Manhole covers – they’re slippy.
- Central reservation post shadows will leave a strip of icy road every 5-10 metres – yep – slippy.
- And, if you can’t hear your tyres – you’re on ice – very slippy!
Until next time, stay safe,