Winter Motorcycle Riding

Today, I was finally able to do some winter motorcycle riding where I live. The weather cold and below 0 degrees and now it has finally went back to normal here in Minot North Dakota. So I began my motorcycle winter riding gear ritual;

  1. Put on my old Army camouflage pants and leather chaps.
  2. Slipped on my thick warm socks and threw on my winter riding boots.
  3. Then I put on my cold weather poly pro and my leather Jacket.
  4. Safety airbag vest.
  5. Freeze out hoodie and ear plugs.
  6. Full face helmet and Oakley sunglasses.
  7. Heated gloves that plug into the bike.

Now this ritual for riding changes depending on the temperature that you plan on riding in, today the temperature was 40 degrees and with the wind it felt like 32 degrees. A nice temperature for this time of year in North Dakota. After getting all of my gear on I started my Indian Motorcycle and was ready for some winter motorcycle riding. I closed the garage and made the usual turns onto the main street which led me to the front gate of the post. I arrived at the Stop sign by the entrance of the military post and made a left turn onto Highway 83 riding north. Funny because, if I continue on 83N for approximately 45 minutes I will be at the Canadian Border and can cross over to a whole new country with all new adventures.

Another view of the peaceful stop.

But today I rode along the road and the wind around 15 MPH and the passing trucks did not help as they passed me by. Not too many of cars today I guess people still working. Yea, I remember how that felt to be a worker but now that retired from the military I ride during the day and it is wonderful. As I rode I noticed the left over snow and the openness of this great state, everywhere you look you can see for miles and miles, when you ride in North Dakota you notice everything as you ride because of how vast it is. But when you see something cool then you know that the ride was definitely worth it.

Up about 10 miles on 83N I see a sign on the right for Lake Darling 12 miles so I make a left and ride on. I notice the farms and corn fields on either side as the wind is calm but you still feel the chill as you ride. As you get closer to the lake located in the Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge, you begin to see the lake coming into view on the right and it is beautiful.Upon arriving I can see that the lake still has some ice sitting over the surface the temperatures are not warm enough to melt that ice. And, all of this I see while I ride my motorcycle, sure I could drive my car and seen the same scenery but I would not earn it like I just did from the environment. I arrive and stop to take in the view and snap some pictures of this great ride. After some time of taking in the views, temperature and its peaceful moment I start the bike and head back.

A selfie at the Lake

Riding back I see one car in the opposite lane in all the 12 miles heading back, this place is awesome for riding a motorcycle. There are never that many cars on the road, you can be on your motorcycle going 75 MPH and never catch up to the car in front of you due to the roads bing so long. So I try to keep her under 70MPH and take in as much scenery as I can. And I do, I see more left over snow, some cows and more corn fields. I finally reach  Route 83 and turn right and head south back to post doing 70-75MPH a few more cars but nothing significant on the way back.

I arrive, make a right and am back on post heading home knowing that soon this ride will be over. There will be more days this week and I will ride again even if the weather is 32 degrees or warmer. Although riding in much colder weather you do need to be careful of black ice, ice patches and the threat of snow while your riding. But do not let this deter you from winter motorcycle riding its an awesome adventure for anyone who wants to build more experience in their riding arsenal. I recommend winter riding to everyone because not everyone rides in the winter but they should.

Stay Warm and Keep Riding!

JesusB

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Winter Motorcycle Riding-Man it’s Cold Outside!

My beautiful winter months in North Dakota

Welcome to Winter, the time to put away the bike and feel the cold weather chilling your bones to the core.

Time to think about Halloween, Thanksgiving and yes Christmas it’s not time to unplug the bike from the battery tender, check the air in the tires, fill up the gas tank and go for a ride in the windy cold weather.

Is it really too cold to ride a motorcycle in the winter? I mean the snow, black ice, freezing rain, cold wind, freezing fingers, legs and no mater how many layers you wear you are still cold and miserable winter.

Some of you say hell yea, it’s too cold and I will wait for the spring when the weather is much nicer. Who needs to be in that temperature with a bike, that’s a lot of gear to wear do some winter motorcycle riding. I say I do, Yes, winter motorcycle riding is a wonderful experience it’s brisk the scenery is fantastic and you get to ride all year round.

I live in North Dakota and I ride in the winter so tell me, how cold is it where you’re at. The trick is to pick the really nice days, make sure the temperature is above freezing and don’t venture too far from home in case it starts snowing and you need to get home.

You need good tires for this type of riding.

Temperature

The temperature should not be a big factor in winter riding I mean you are riding on a motor that gets hot. Your legs will stay comfortably warm due to the heat being generated by the motor.
Yes 32 degrees Fahrenheit feels like 23 degrees when you are riding and sometimes colder it’s cold wind chill factor. But if you dress in layers like I do:

  • A thermal liner over my t-shirt and long john top and my leather jacket.
  • A liner under my leather motorcycle pants.
  • Wool socks under my heavy-duty motorcycle riding boots.
  • A freeze out head liner under the full face helmet.
  • Heated gloves that plug into the motorcycle.
  • I also put a windshield on my cruiser and this really helps out.

So, as you can see the weather doesn’t really affect me much after all these articles of clothing are put on. Once I am set I ride slower for the first 10 minutes to warm up the tires and engine. Although I failed to mention you should warm up the engine at least 5 minutes before riding and add some engine stabilizer at every fill up it helps protect the engine.

Taking a break for something warm to drink.

What about the Bike?

Well what about the bike how will she react to winter motorcycle riding. All you need to do is take several precautions and take care of yourself for a safe enjoyable ride. You need to;

  1. Check your fluid levels at least once a week, before your ride ideally.
  2. Check your tire pressure before every ride, this one is very important and it should go without saying.
  3. Check your mirrors, yes they could have shifted and you are bulkier now.
  4. Disconnect the battery tender before riding.
  5. If you park more than a week move the bike up or down a couple of feet every week to protect from tire flattening.

Take it easy the first couple of miles to warm the tires and engine to an optimum operating temperature. Then ride like you normally would when riding in the spring except now if you get really cold you stop for coffee or cocoa.

Proper Gear

ATGATT=All the Gear All The Time but now you need to add cold weather gear to that equation. Truthfully, I used to get really cold fingers when riding but after I purchased plug in heated gloves I no longer worry about my hands. Yes, the gloves make the ride because if your head and fingers are warm you can ride a long time in the winter. But you might consider the following:

  1. Some kind of Balaclava or Freeze out head protector.
  2. Thermal top and bottoms thick and can fit under your motorcycle leathers.
  3. Nice thick wool socks under some nice leather riding boots.
  4. A motorcycle safety vest or airbag vest.
  5. 2-3 layers of insulated clothing under your thick leather jacket.
  6. A neck warmer if not wearing a Balaclava.
  7. An extra pair of riding gloves in the saddlebags in case it gets warmer.
  8. A tire inflation pump in the saddlebags just in case.
  9. I also recommend putting in, “Ride-On” for prevention of flat tires they will at least get you home after a puncture.
  10. Full Face helmet it’s just too cold for any other type of helmet.

Let’s Go For A Ride

So now you finally got everything on that you need for the ride and you look like the Michelin man, hey no one said it was going to look nice but you will be warm and safe. At this point you ride out onto the open rode nice and warm, if you are not warm you add more clothing next time. I mean this is not an exact science it’s all about trial and error and what works for you because what works for me won’t exactly work for you or anyone else. Also, when you start riding there are some things you should keep in mind:

    • Remember the gloves are bulkier so you have less feeling in your hands so you need to adapt to the throttle.
    • At a stop sign or a traffic light remember your legs are bulkier so be careful stepping down.
    • When riding look for ice and snow on the road surface and avoid if at all possible.
    • If you run over snow or ice come off the throttle and don’t slam on the brakes.
    • Give yourself more space to slow down in case of black ice unseen.
    • Riding in the winter is about enjoying the ride.
    • Do not speed and go, throttle easy and steady.
    • Enjoy the weather you are part of the few who have made the transition to yearly riding in the snow states.
A nice cup of Hot Chocolate after a great ride.

Back Home, Sipping some Hot Chocolate

Finally back home the ride is over a little sad and a little happier because you made the ride enjoyable and it might have been one of your better winter ride. There is nothing like coming home after an awesome winter motorcycle ride and taking a warm bath or drinking a nice hot chocolate. You feel like you have accomplished a great deal, the weather was brisk but the scenery was fantastic. You are a part of the few who refuse to store their motorcycle for the winter. The, “I will ride the winter months no matter what”, riders. I know that if you take my advice and decide to ride in the winter you will not regret it even if you ride for only 30 minutes it will be worth it.

Ride on through the Winter!

JesusB