Motorcycles and Bad Weather - How to Prepare
Time to winterise
It is 6.30am on a Monday morning late in September. After a week off work it seems very different to the Monday morning of a fortnight ago. It is dark for a start. It is also windy, and it’s raining. Lovely. Thoughts of taking the car to work enter my head but leave it just as quickly. I don’t like driving, I don’t like cars, and I hate traffic jams. Add to that the issue of not very much petrol, not only in my car but significantly in the local petrol stations. Why? Because some fool on the radio announces there is no need to panic buy fuel, so of course everyone does. There may be a shortage of tanker drivers, but there is no shortage of fuel. There is definitely a shortage of common sense. I digress, don’t get me started……
As we transition from summer to winter, riders should consider the implications, not only for themselves but also for their bike. I always ride through winter, but for the last twenty-five years have worked mainly from home and so haven’t had to commute on a daily basis. Covid comes along, circumstances change, and in an ironic reverse of what many have experienced I find myself working five days a week in an office, and a daily commute has become the norm. Accepting the onset of cold, dark and wet mornings and evenings is mandatory, and the sooner I get used to it the better. So rather than take the car I climb into my waterproofs and onto my bike.
The point of this is to emphasise the need to check your bike and your riding gear to make sure that it can cope with what lies ahead over the next six months.
It's all in the preparation
The first question is do you ride through the winter, do you take the bike off the road for winter, or is it somewhere in between? From the bike’s point of view, if you continue to ride through the winter then you need to be on top of the bike’s maintenance generally, as of course you should be all year round, but you must pay more attention to items that will be affected by adverse weather, such as chain lubrication, tyre and brake condition, battery condition, and corrosion. If you store your bike you need to do it correctly so when you get it out again in the spring it will start first time and be ready to roll with the minimum of fuss. If you ride through the winter but less frequently than you do in the summer then you need to adopt an overall approach to both maintenance and storage. From the rider’s point of view, if you are popping out for the odd ride when the weather is good you can probably rely on your normal riding gear with the addition of a decent base and mid layer to keep you warm. But if you commute daily and want to arrive at your workplace dry and warm some decent winter riding gear is essential, and it is now that you need to check what you already have and decide what, if anything, you need to get. Even the best gear loses its qualities over time, and halfway through a 50-mile commute is not the time to discover that your once watertight jacket now leaks. If you do need some new kit my experience is that you get what you pay for and my advice is to spend as much as you can afford. On a motorcycle, especially in adverse conditions, staying warm and dry is everything.
Nothing to be afraid of
I believe that riding through winter is the best way to get you through winter. We don’t live in Siberia, winters are not that severe, and most conditions are easy enough to cope with and should be seen as a challenge and a way of honing you riding skills rather than as a deterrent. Riding in the rain changes the way you ride, but it is a skill well worth mastering that brings a sense of achievement and satisfaction. But don’t get carried away, floods, winds above 40mph, snowy and icy roads are all to be avoided. But for any rider that is thinking of putting their bike into winter storage and using their car to commute, think on this: sitting in traffic jams is bad for your stress level, will raise your blood pressure and boost your cholesterol, and think of what it does to your psyche on a sunny day as you sit there going nowhere while the bikes drift happily past, laughing all the way to the front of the queue.
Over the next few weeks, as summer’s end becomes a reality, we look at what you need to do for yourself and for your bike and focus on the products that will help keep you warm and dry and your bike in good working condition.
To see the full range of protective sprays and lubricants and accessories such as covers, heated grips and screens available from MPW browse the motorcyclepartswarehouse shop.