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How To Ride a Motorcycle in the Winter

By Walter F. Kern

You have your own reason for wanting to continue to ride when it gets cold. However, there are some things you need to know if you are determined to ride your motorcycle in the winter, and survive.

Here's How to Ride in the Winter:

  1. Get a windshield for your motorcycle. Many think a windshield spoils the beauty of the bike. However, riding in 20 degree temperatures with severe wind chill factors will change your mind about getting that windshield.
  2. Many motorcycle batteries won't last more than two years. Winter riding puts even more strain on a battery. Use a product like Battery Tender to keep it charged.
  3. Use proper oil. Usually 10W - 40 weight oil designed for motorcycles is sufficient.
  4. If you have a liquid-cooled bike, be sure that the reading on the anti-freeze is sufficient for the temperatures you expect.
  5. Make sure the bike has been thoroughly inspected for any mechanical problems. There is nothing more frustrating than being stranded in 20 degree temperatures because of a breakdown.
  6. Get the proper attitude. You will need to be covered up and motorists will not be expecting to see a motorcycle. Be prepared for additional risks.
  7. If you plan to travel any distance from home, check out the weather forecasts over the route you'll be taking. It may be clear at home but icy and snowy elsewhere on your route.
  8. You need to cover your body and eliminate places where the cold air can easily enter. Some riders have been known to wear heavy clothing and seal up openings with duct tape.
  9. Many riders just dress in layers much as a skier does. There comes a time when most will get tired of being so cold and opt for some electric clothing. Electric vests, gloves, chaps and socks are available.


  1. Winter riding can be fun and safe. Just make sure that both you and your motorcycle are prepared.
  2. If you opt for electric apparel, be sure to get a thermostat to control the delivery of heat.
  3. Learn how 550 riders keep warm and have fun as they ride in the Polar Bear Grand Tour each winter.

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