ABR’s resident expert of all things two-wheeled answers your questions.
I recently bit the bullet and part chopped my sports bike for an adventure bike. I wanted a bike I could use all year round, not just in the summer. I’m sure you’ve been asked this question before but bear with me as a newbie to this type of bike. How do I cope with winter weather?
Let’s break this up into two categories, you and the bike. When it comes to you, correct layering of your clothing is key to keeping you warm while riding in cold weather. The simplest way to do this is to use the three-layer principle. This calls for a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer.
Ideally, a good base layer will cover the whole of your body completely, including your arms and legs. A material like merino wool will retain body heat while wicking away sweat. For your mid-layer, an insulated jacket, either made from down or synthetic material, is excellent at retaining heat while being thin enough to fit under your jacket.
Finally, for your outer layer, I’d recommend a good waterproof textile jacket and trousers. If you can afford one, go for a laminated material featuring a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex. If your budget won’t stretch to laminated gear, then certainly invest in effective waterproofs to go over your textiles, which will keep you dry and warm.
A good pair of waterproof winter gloves are a must. You can use our review here to help find the right pair for you. I don’t use heated motorcycle gear myself, but people give it rave reviews and it is certainly worth investigating if you struggle to stay warm in the saddle during winter.
Now, let’s talk about setting up your bike for the colder months. When it comes to your hands, a combination of heated grips for warmth, plus handguards to protect you from wind and rain, will help keep your fingers toasty.
Some manufacturers now offer heated seats as an extra, or they can be bought as an aftermarket fit. I’ve never suffered from a cold bum on a bike, so I was a little sceptical when I tried one for the first time. However, a heated seat is all about keeping your core temperature up which stops the body from drawing blood from extremities (hands and feet) to protect vital organs. It works very well.
An effective screen will help protect you from wind and rain so it’s worth upgrading if yours doesn’t cut the mustard.
On the mechanical side of things, I would recommend ensuring your bike has a comprehensive winter service, either DIY or at a bike shop. Make sure you pay attention to the condition of your tyres. You’ll need them to give the maximum grip available in poor weather. Also, keep a close eye on your chain and sprockets throughout the winter as these can suffer from salt corrosion.
Check all the lights on your bike and maybe upgrade the headlight if you don’t think it’s bright enough. Alternatively, fit a couple of aftermarket spotlights for those dark winter rides. Also, have the battery tested. It may seem ok now but you’ll be cursing if it lets you down on a cold morning.
Keeping the finish of your bike up to scratch during the winter is also important to preserve its value. Rusty bikes depreciate quite a bit as not many buyers can be tempted to throw hard-earned cash at something that looks rough.
With this in mind, treat the bike with a good preservative such as ACF50. This leaves an oily layer that penetrates into the steel and alloy to keep corrosion away. After a ride, just wash off the salt with cold water. After the winter, a good clean with a degreaser will bring back the shine.
Got something to ask Dave?
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