We've had a very mild winter so far but they say the worst is to come. Blizzards, floods, heavy snowfall, it could all come our way. Now if you're like me and ride all year round, the cold and the conditions it brings can make a real difference to your riding style and maintenance schedule. Here's my guide for getting through the winter...
Look after your motorbike and it will look after you.
In the winter period your bike is getting hit with the worst of the weather on and off the road. If you don't have somewhere dry to store it such as a garage or shed make sure you get yourself a cover. Bike covers won't keep all the moisture out but will certainly protect your machine more than if it was exposed to all the elements.
Keep her clean and lubricated. Not only will there be more water, mud and dirt on the roads but when they start gritting you'll also have an abrasive coating of salt all over your shiny chrome. A simple wash down once a week will keep that dirt off and stop corrosion setting in. After she's washed give her a good going over with a lubricant, all the moving parts, cables etc just to keep things active.
Tyres, brakes, lights. Simple checks that make all the difference. Have a look at the condition of your tyres; if they are starting to wear thin you may want to think about getting a new set. They'll be working harder for you in the winter and a bald tyre could cause real problems in slippery conditions. Brakes are also very important! Check your discs, pads etc to make sure they are up to standard for the conditions you'll be facing. Lighting is also very important in the winter months, it's our first line of defence when getting noticed and with darker days and nights make sure you're lit and all your bulbs are functioning.
On the road
Be aware of the conditions and don't take unnecessary risks.
Pre-ride checks. As above with the maintenance checks just have a quick look over before you start her up, you might notice something that could be potentially lifesaving. Also check the state of the weather you're heading into, forecasts as well as just a look may change your outlook on whether it's worth going out.
Gear up. Obviously it's cold out there and your gear should reflect that. Thick protective clothing and gloves will keep you warm, dry and safe but it will also keep you more aware as you won't be worrying how cold your fingers are! High visibility gear is also a bonus in winter as the darker days will make you less spottable.
Watch that road surface! As you travel along make sure you're doing extra checks on the road in front of you, black ice, opening cracks and pot holes can all appear overnight in the winter and may be unexpected on the daily commute. Be ready and aware at all times.
29.10.14 - Big Ed