10 Tips for Motorcycle Riding in the Winter

10 Tips for Motorcycle Riding in the Winter

Riding in the winter requires more than just skill and a passion for pavement. With the risk of hypothermia and slick roads, riders must be well prepared before going for a ride. Being too cold can lead to shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness, low energy, slow reaction times, and sore joints. None of these are advisable for a rider to stay safe. It is very important for riders to be alert and comfortable enough to deal with emergency situations. Here are 10 tips to keeping you and those around you out of accidents.


  1. UNDERWEAR NOT LAYERING-Motorcycle and outdoor outfitter stores sell a wide range of thermal underwear which is thin but effective. It will keep you warm without having to put on several layers of bulky clothing and limit your free movement. Long underwear, balaclavas, glove liners, knee warmers, socks and neck tubes are great additions to keep warmth in and the chill out.

  2. GET THE RIGHT GEAR-Today’s riding gear features materials that keep you warm without having to be extra bulky. Make sure the sleeve, neck and ankles can be tightly closed as the wind and cold can get in.

  3. PROTECT YOUR TOES & FINDERS-You can wear the warmest jacket and pants, but if you’re extremities are still cold, you will not be able to work the levers properly. Get good quality winter gloves and wear warm, woolen socks to keep your fingers and toes from going numb. Just because gloves are thick doesn’t mean they are warmer.

  4. WIND CHILL-Estimating wind chill is a complex calculation involving ambient temperature and wind speed, but at 0 degrees ambient temperature, travelling at 100km/h on the highway, you will be in -17.4 degrees. Do your best to get out of the wind. It’s difficult on a naked bike, but you can at least tuck your legs into the tank, crouch down a bit and maybe slow down a little.

  5. BIKE MODS-If you want to spend a bit more money, you can also add grip, seat and even foot warmers to your bike, although these will all draw power from the battery so you might also need to consider an alternator and/or battery boost.

  6. STOP FREQUENTLY-We can all brave a quick ride home in near-freezing temperatures, but a long ride in the cold will numb your fingers and toes which is dangerous to you and other road users. Stop frequently, have a warm drink and thaw out the extremities. Find public toilets with hand blow dryers which will quickly thaw out your fingers. If you are constantly shivering, pull over for just a couple of minutes and move around briskly to get your blood pumping.

  7. STAY DRY-Even fine mist can soak your clothing and amplify the effects of wind chill, so consider wearing a waterproof layer or at least spraying your gear with water repellant.

  8. STAY HYDRATED-When we’re cold we don’t feel as thirsty as when we are hot, so there is a tendency to not drink enough. That can lead to fatigue, so stay hydrated.

  9. NO ALCOHOL OR COFFEE-They may go down nice and warm, and make you feel like they are heating up your insides, but they can be a danger in the cold. Alcohol and caffeine increase the blood flow to the skin, which may make you feel warmer, but it is actually causing you to lose body heat. Alcohol also affects your judgment which may already be impaired by the cold. 

  10. EAT OFTEN-Our metabolism slows when we are cold so we start to shiver to create internal heat. Good nutrition helps keep you warm as your body heats up to burn calories. Eat foods loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and immune-boosting powers to fight off the cold. Carbohydrates, fruit, soup, ginger and spicy foods are particularly good. Hot foods tend to make you feel warmer, but a piece of fruit can be just as effective.



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