Riding right on through the chilliest winter months is one thing, but riding in the snow is a whole new ball game. Could you, should you, must you?
Dazzling sun, blue skies, white-out scenery, hushed roads, pin-fresh air – wow! Being out on the bike just after the snow has settled can be stunningly beautiful. However, if you rely on your bike to get to work, or you ride for a living, you may end up riding in snowfall or, worst of all, blizzard conditions.
How snowy is too snowy?
Snow can appear with very little warning, so keep an eye on the forecast and assess the conditions. If possible, avoid riding while it’s actually snowing, because the snow can quickly and unpredictably accumulate on the roads, creating wet and slippery conditions and hiding uneven surfaces. Stay home, or get home, if you can. If the snow is falling heavily, take shelter in a safe place until it passes. Visibility will be dangerously poor and, crucially, you don’t want to end up stranded out in the open for hours.
Riding on fresh snow is easier than riding on snow that has been impacted by cars. Drive gently. If the snow has been packed down, it will be slippery and icy. Be extra-careful and keep a watchful eye out for cars, which will not slow down to the same extent as you.
Mind the grit
Have the roads been treated? Salt will hinder traction and damage the metal of your bike. Stay away from salt patches if possible but, if you end up riding through it, rinse off your bike afterwards to avoid rusting.
The art of winter motorcycle maintenance
Check your tyre pressure before every ride, since cold temperatures reduce air pressure. Consider sports touring tyres for improved handling and traction on snowy and slushy roads. Pay extra attention to brakes and clutches.
If it’s cold enough to snow, it’s cold enough for heated motorcycle clothing
Invest in good-quality kit and it will last for years and years. Gerbing, the world’s market leader in safe, comfortable and practical heated clothing, offers a lifetime guarantee on the heating elements of all its products. A good place to start is gloves. In extremely cold conditions, heated gloves work better than heated grips, mainly because warmth reaches all parts of your hands and fingers. We recommend the bestselling Gerbing XRL or XR leather motorcycle heated gloves constructed with MicroWirePro® (tiny conductive stainless-steel threads of wire), which feature an integrated visor wipe to help you see through the snow and sleet. The gloves can be powered via the bike battery, small portable batteries (XRL only) or Gerbing’s heated motorcycle jacket liner.
Heated motorcycle jackets, trousers and socks
Other heated basics are worn over breathable thermal base layers and under your regular outer jacket and trousers. These can be powered and connected together in a variety of ways and set to a variety of temperatures. First up: Gerbing’s lightweight Premium Motorcycle Heated Jacket Liner with Thinsulate® lining and MicrowirePro®. This version has sleeves, but there is also a gilet-style option without sleeves (the Vest Liner). Both are stretchy, snug and super-comfortable, and distribute warmth evenly around the garment. Gerbing’s Teflon-coated water-repellent heated trousers feature the same fit and fabric, and will keep your legs as warm as you like.
To top (or bottom) things off, you’re likely to want heated socks – no more cold feet! Gerbing heated socks features heating elements all around, making them a more effective option than heated insoles, which will only warm the base of the foot.
Keeping warm is essential to safe winter riding - you don’t want the cold to slow down your reaction times, which are crucial in snowy and slippery conditions. And as well as safer, it will be more enjoyable.
Extra tips on the right clothing for snowy conditions - stay dry and be seen
Outer layers should be windproof, breathable and above all waterproof. Staying dry is key to helping you stay warm. Look for high-quality Gore-Tex® and Gore-Tex Pro® outer layers with features such as storm cuffs, and detachable collars which will ensure a good seal under your helmet. DANE is a fantastic European brand and our pick of the jackets would be the Nimbus or Ribe, which are both constructed from Gore-Tex® Pro and feature Rainblocker® waterproof ventilation zips . Wear with the Lyngby Air trousers in Gore-Tex® Pro and Armacor fabric, which have leather on the inside leg to help you stay stable on the bike, thermal lining for extra warmth and 3M™ Scotchlite™ reflective material.
Snowy, sleety conditions mean that it’s more important than ever to be visible, so ensure your outer clothing and/or helmet features high-viz and reflective panels.
Take care out there
The snow is beautiful but dangerous, so stay safe on the bike and remember… spring is on the way!