Riding Your Bike When Snowstorms Strike

Winter is here, and with it comes snow and ice. Unfortunately, this means many motorcyclists will be putting their bikes away for the season. However, those who live in slightly warmer climates may choose to head out for the occasional ride even despite the season. Still, even some of the warmest places in the US can see snow sometimes, and occasionally it will seem to come out of nowhere. 

Before we go further, it should be noted that we don’t generally recommend riding in snowy conditions. However, if you are out and about when a freak snowstorm hits, there is no reason to panic. In most cases, it is possible to ride a motorcycle in the snow, meaning you will likely be able to make your way back home where you will be warm and dry.

That said, riding in the snow does require certain knowledge that you may not gather from your everyday rides. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself on these matters before you head out for a winter bike ride. After all, you never can tell what the weather will do, and by preparing now you can save yourself from stress and potentially even damage and injury later down the line.

So what should you know about riding your bike in the snow? These eight tips should have you riding the wintery roads safely in no time.

#1: Layer Up

Before you begin your snowy weather adventure, layer up. Put on every bit of clothing you have with you. Be sure you always keep warm, waterproof gloves with you for just such situations, and consider packing extra socks and hats as well.

If you don’t have enough in the way of warm clothing, add a poncho or large trash bag under your clothes in order to waterproof them, and place newspapers between the plastic and your clothes for extra insulation.

#2: Don Your Safety Gear

A well-made helmet and high-quality safety glasses or goggles are always important. However, they become even more important when riding in extreme weather. Before you hit the road for your next winter ride, be sure your safety gear is in top-notch condition and able to handle any surprise snowstorms that may come your way.

#3: Be Gentle

Riding in snowy conditions requires that motorcyclists be ultra-gentle in all respects. Slamming on your brakes is a sure path to disaster, and a quick turn is likely to end with you on the ground. For this reason, you will want to be as gentle as you can with your brakes, clutch, throttle, and steering. This will help you keep your bike under control for the entirety of your ride.

#4: Take It Slow

Of course, you will want to slow down while riding in the snow. Wet roads mean slippery roads, and heading down the highway too quickly will almost certainly cause an accident. Take it slow and steady while remembering to be gentle, and you will be setting yourself up for success.

#5: Watch for Ice

We all know that water can quickly turn to ice in the wintertime. Therefore, any time there is precipitation in the winter, you will want to keep a sharp eye out for icy patches. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze first, and keep in mind that shady spots are often home to black ice. If you are riding in a potentially icy area, keep up the slow, steady pace, remember to make all changes to speed and direction gentle, and keep your feet on the pegs or floorboards. You might also find it helpful to hold in the clutch and free-wheel across the ice.

#6: Leave a Gap

Because snowy roads are likely to be slick and because ice is a potential problem, you can count on having problems with stopping. Fortunately, by slowing down and applying the brakes gently, you can stop but you will want to leave yourself extra space to do so. Leaving a large gap between yourself and the person in front of you may feel silly, but it is a good practice when riding in wintery conditions. 

Additionally, you will want to ensure the person behind you is leaving plenty of space between their front and your back. After all, if the vehicle behind you can’t stop, you are going to take the hit. If you feel that the person following you is too close, consider changing lanes or pulling over and letting that vehicle pass you.

#7: Stop Often

Snow is frozen water, and that means the air around you during your snowy bike ride is probably going to be pretty dang cold. If you feel yourself becoming too cold to control your bike or if the cold is making it difficult for you to think clearly, pull over, head inside, and warm up. Don’t get back on your motorcycle until you are sufficiently warm and feel as though you can control your bike well.

#8: Know Your Limits

Is the outside temperature well below freezing? Is home many miles away? Are there very few places to stop and get warm between where you are and the place you call home? Any one of these things is reason to skip the snowy bike ride and stay somewhere close and warm. Find a friend’s house, a motel, or even a local church and ask if you can stay. After all, safety should always come first.

Are you looking for ways to be even safer during your winter bike rides? One of the best ways to ensure you are as safe as possible is to keep quality safety glasses or goggles on hand and wear them during each and every ride.

We have tons of safety eyewear to choose from! Take a look at our selection and see if you can find something to suit your needs.

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