The Best Defense Against Cold Weather
(Courtesy of Cruiser Customizing)
For the Rider:
Since the age of 15 my primary mode of transportation has been by motorcycle and each winter I have braved the cold for short distances of 10-50 miles... but have been taken to 4 wheels for longer winter outings. In the early days, I used the layering method with standard
"cold weather" products such as long johns, wool socks, and lots of layers. The key here was to layer up and endure. My endurance was not only a comfort issue, but more importantly a safety issue. A cold and miserable rider is not a safe rider!
In the recent past, I have learned of some awesome gear which has dramatically extended my long distance riding from seasonal to year round! Three years ago I stumbled across motorcycle specific riding gear from TourMaster, First Gear, and Schampa. These companies helped me to cover and protect as much of my body as possible with their warm, insulated, and wind / water proof gear. Dressing warmly sure did slow down my heat loss and it took longer for me to feel the cold. But if the ride was long enough I sure felt the cold. These additions to my wardrobe helped to extend my comfortable riding distance from the 50 to the 150 mile range.
This year I have had the opportunity to advance to the next level in winter riding gear, I have gone Electric. In the beginning, I scoffed at the thought of plugging in for the ride... but now I must admit that I can not think of enduring the cold without the benefit of Electric gear. My ride time with this gear will effectively extend my daily cold weather rides from miles... to hours... and even days.
First Gear has just released their new Warm and Safe line of heated clothing of which I have been riding in for the past month and a half. The last weekend of September I rode up the coast of Northern California where I encountered temperatures near 30 degrees... and I was toasty. Thus far, 30 degrees has been the coldest I have been able to test but oddly enough I look forward to the colder weather to come.
This heated gear is not a replacement for the motorcycle specific riding gear which has been the staple for years past, but is an addition which will keep you Warm and Safe and on the road for a lot
For the Bike:
As suggested earlier, I have never been one to park my bike for the
"winter season." However, knowing I will generally ride "less" in the colder months preparation is always necessary. Here are a couple of suggestions to help keep your bike ready to ride with those random, but beautiful, clear, and chilly days of winter call you out for a ride.
There is nothing worse then getting the itch to ride, getting geared up and hearing nothing but silence when you turn your key and press your starter button... I suggest every motorcycle rider own and previously use some sort of Battery Maintained device. My two favorites are the Battery Tender, Kisan ChargeX, and Kuryakyn CTEK battery management systems. Each of these units maximize battery life and performance by maintaining the battery at a full charge while never over charging.
Tires: Many of my ridding buddies will keep old and shoddy tires on their bikes all winter in the hopes they can hold out until spring so they can start the new season on new tread. Most all tire manufacturers and safety advisors frown on this system as it is simply not safe. One should change their tires at the end of their normal riding season which will provide a safe ride if they get stuck in wet winter conditions. In addition, it will be one less thing to have to worry about when spring arrives.
Oil: Before a bike is stored or not ridden for a period of time, it is recommended the oil be changed. This fresh oil will not only help to protect the motor parts, but will allow the bike to be ready for a ride when ever the rider chooses.
If the bike will not be ridden for some time, please do not forget to add some gas stabilizer to the tank before walking away.
Most importantly, please do not forget to lend your bike its proper affection throughout the winter months. From time to time you bike will appreciate a brief hello, a short conversation, and maybe a suggestion of the great weather and great times to come! In addition, it never hurts to straddle the bike and make motorcycle noises... letting your baby know he / she has not been forgotten.
Ride warm and safe,
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