7 Safety Tips for Winter Riding

New Jersey Motorcycle Injury Attorney Helps You Ride Safely This Winter


For some folks, the idea of climbing on a bike in the so-called dead of winter sounds crazy. It’s windy, cold, and probably slick and dangerous. But there is also a hardy group of year-round riders out there for whom the idea of winterizing and storing their motorcycle for up to half the year is equally unheard of.

Count me among the year-rounders. Now, I don’t go out when it’s dangerous, and I don’t ride when it’s especially cold, but I’m not the type of rider who would let a bunch of words and numbers on a calendar dictate where, how, and especially when I’m allowed to ride. Of course, as any good motorcycle attorney will tell you, there are unique challenges and issues, especially regarding safety, when it comes to winter riding.

7 Tips for a Safer Winter Ride

While many attorneys would probably dismiss the idea of winter riding out of hand, as a New Jersey motorcycle injury attorney who is also an avid rider, I understand your need to hit the open road, even if conditions are not exactly perfect. And a winter ride does not have to be unsafe. That’s why I’ve put together these tips to make your next winter ride as safe and comfortable as possible.

  1. Dress for the weather – Obviously being cold while on your bike is going to equal being miserable while on your bike, so warm clothes are a must. The secret is layers. Start with a Base Layer (full leg, long sleeve). In this case synthetics are a better choice than cotton, because they wick moisture away from your skin.
    Your Mid-Layer should be an insulating barrier, probably some type of fleece with a collar to keep your neck warm.

    For the Outer-Layer I’m a big proponent of Gore-Tex because it’s waterproof and breathable. Boots and gloves also come in Gore-Tex insulated varieties.

    Finally, your winter helmet should be tightly sealed and equipped with a fog-free faceshield.

    Your local motorcycle dealer should be able to sell any of these items to you, or point you in the right direction.

  2. Motorcycle prep – Your bike was not necessarily designed for winter use, so riding in the cold season requires a bit of special preparation. One recommendation is to add a windscreen and handguards for wind proofing if your bike doesn’t already have them. Next, if your bike is water-cooled make sure the antifreeze is fresh and mixed properly. Check your hoses; they can get brittle over time.
    Make sure you have adequate tread on your tires. You’ll need to channel water and snow effectively on cold, wet pavement. Check your tire pressure before you head out. And warm your tires if possible before you hit the road, or alternate accelerating and braking when you first head out to warm them up. Warm tires offer better traction than cold tires.
  3. Watch for salt and winter road damage – Winter riding conditions are intrinsically more dicey than other seasons, even if it isn’t currently snowing or raining. Many roads will have been salted recently, which is dangerous even if there is no ice on the pavement. A patch of salt can make you lose traction and take you down if you’re not paying attention just as effectively as can ice.
    Also keep in mind that snow plows are very tough on pavement. They create new, often large, rough, and dangerous cracks and potholes.

    And naturally, keep your eyes peeled for ice and black ice.

  4. Be extra visible – A lot of drivers have a hard time seeing you in the best of conditions. In the winter time, this can be even more pronounced, as general visibility is typically lower, their windows are more likely to fog up, etc. You can counteract this by keeping your lights on at all times, and wearing reflective clothing on your outer layers. Take extra care staying out of vehicles’ blind spots. Drivers are not accustomed to seeing us on our bikes during the winter, so it’s up to us to take a few extra precautions to stay safe.
  5. Stay further back from other vehicles – Give cars and trucks some extra space during your winter rides. In ideal conditions (dry, well-lit) it takes an experienced rider about 85 feet to stop a bike traveling at 35 mph. An average car is around 16 feet, so it would take about five car lengths to stop. In winter conditions you need to open this up because there may be ice or snow on the roads (and your colder tires have less traction in any case), and it may be less sunny. Look further down the road as well, so you can recognize potential hazards before they turn into immediate threats.
  6. Keep an eye on the forecasts – Check the weather regularly before your ride (and during if you can do this safely, ie at stoplights or rest areas). If there is a threat of significant snow, or freezing conditions leave your bike in the garage, unless it is equipped with dedicated snow tires.
  7. After the ride – Once you’re back from your winter excursion, and have the bike properly stowed, warm yourself up with a nice hot cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. And finally, this isn’t strictly safety I suppose, but remember, road salt can can cause your bike to rust, so get it to the car wash as soon as possible.

If you have more questions about year round riding, or if you’ve been involved in an accident, contact motorcycle accident attorney Lee D. Gaber, Esq. at 1-888-292-5352 (888-cycle-law).

Consultations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania are totally free.