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THE RIDER'S WORKSHOP - Winter Riding


Jim Ford

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WINTER RIDING GEAR

 

Winter is the season when a lot of motorcyclists dry dock their bikes for the season. They all have their reasons.

 

Because of where I live which is in the greater Washington DC area, I don’t stop riding when it gets cold. Even when it gets frigidly cold, I can be out there plying the back roads - if the roads are clear.

 

Winter riding is an excellent time of year to ride. Here's why: there seems to be less traffic, the atmosphere is cleaner than summer so the visibility is better and healthier, and more refreshing. And, since the forests are bare naked, it’s easier to peep through the trees.

 

The key to winter is staying warm especially during that last hour of a cold ride. So here are some suggestions for toasty motorcycling during even the chilliest days.

 

Wear a balaclava. Everybody knows we humans lose body warmth through our head, and especially our neck. A balaclava, similar to a dive hood, seals off these parts. No way do you want fingers of icy air crawling down your back. Brrrr! So a good balaclava is the solution. I purchased a new model this year. I dig it because I can pull the chin section all the way up over my mouth to the bridge of my nose bandit style.

 

Try to make the investment in electric liners. When you wear electric liners (jacket, gloves, and socks,) you no longer rely on body heat. Heck there's not much body heat anyway since you're just sitting there - in a serious windchill no less. What are you going to do, slow down?

 

With electrics, you have a continuous supply of electrically generated energy - adjustable with a small thermostat. You want more heat? Just turn the knob. My thermostat is hardwired to the battery and velcroed to my tank. Now I have power at the ready anytime of year.

 

Some folks moan about the expense of electrics. Don’t. The price of electrics relative to the price of most motorcycles, is small, small, small. Given that electrics allow for continued riding deep into the colder months for many years to come, and given your guaranteed satisfaction when you first notice the toasty of external heat on your backside when you power up that the first time, it's absolutely worth the investment. Nothing like defying Mother Nature!

 

See you in Third Gear.

 

Jim Ford

www.ridersworkshop.com

866-767-6900

 

 

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Jim,

Good advice.

May I suggest adding a neck gaiter for warmth.

Remember to follow manufacturer directions for maximizing heat from electric gear by wearing one layer between toso and heat source.

Adding another layer over that, then a jacket w/liner, will allow you to ride into very cold temperatures.

An anit-fog visor or anti fog product is a good addition too.

Don't forget to stay hydrated.

Your body needs fluids even when you aren't regulating temperature by sweating.

Wool socks w/a silk liner helps keep those extremities warmer.

If you are caught unprepared, a rain suit can help prevent hypothermia.

Best wishes.

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Another small trick to help warm fingers and toes when you aren't quite prepared for the temperature. The body starts limiting or shutting down blood flow to the extremities when your core gets cold. That makes warming your hand and feet more and more difficult. When you notice them getting cold, squeeze the bars tightly focusing on the ends of the fingers. Then relax your grip. Repeat about 10 times. This will force the cold blood out of the fingers and allow warmer blood to refil them. You are manually circulating the blood. Until you warm back up, you will have to keep doing this every few minutes.

 

The same principal applies to the feet. Press your toes hard against the bottoms of your shoes and then relax.

 

Simple, but effective trick.

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Another small trick to help warm fingers and toes when you aren't quite prepared for the temperature. The body starts limiting or shutting down blood flow to the extremities when your core gets cold. That makes warming your hand and feet more and more difficult. When you notice them getting cold, squeeze the bars tightly focusing on the ends of the fingers. Then relax your grip. Repeat about 10 times. This will force the cold blood out of the fingers and allow warmer blood to refil them. You are manually circulating the blood. Until you warm back up, you will have to keep doing this every few minutes.

 

The same principal applies to the feet. Press your toes hard against the bottoms of your shoes and then relax.

 

Simple, but effective trick.

Thanks! You can learn something new every day!

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Living in Florida justs keep getting better. You can always ride to the Keys and stay warm. Last week here in the Panhandle it was 20F. So I missed a day of two of riding. After 4 years in IL I refuse to ever deal with constant cold again. To me, nothing is better than a warm women on a cold night while the bike sleeps.

LOL

David

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Silver Surfer/AKAButters

Given that electrics allow for continued riding deep into the colder months for many years to come, and given your guaranteed satisfaction when you first notice the toasty of external heat on your backside when you power up that the first time, it's absolutely worth the investment.

 

I could not agree more. I just got my warm and safe liner and gloves last month and I no longer dread the 30 degree mornings we've been having. Cold weather riding is finally fun. Best money I have ever spent. Now, I just need to get the balaclava pants.

 

Thanks for the tips.

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Another technique to warm fingers quickly is to rotate arms in windmill fashion. This tends to force the blood to the hand/fingers. This is while stopped, not while riding.

 

Oh, and I like my electric jacket liner, don't know why I waited.

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Electric gear: it can fail, be prepared for it. If you are riding within one or two hours from home, not a problem. A couple of after half hour riding stops for McDonald coffee will get you home. On longer trips have a backup. Some have a jacket liner and a west. Have one in the saddle bag. If you carry a rain suit putting it on really helps. The before electrics po-boy trick was to line your jacket with newspaper. It helps a lot. If nothing else, frequent stops. Once hypothermia starts, you have a real problem.

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Paul,

That is one of the reasons I still carry rain gear w/"waterproof" riding gear. NOt only provides more insulation, but it keeps your other gear drier which can help when you are on the road for a long trip.

Also, carry spare fuses for your electrics and know where they are located in-line to replace.

If you find your self getting cold, for whatever reason, stop. Get warm. Hypothermia affects judgment and reflexes.

If you don't have extra layers, a stop for some warmer clothes and a yellow ducky rain suit, or Stearns fould weather gear, can provide needed relief from cold and wet weather.

Don't forget about the hot hand chemcial packets available at many retailers. $10 worth of those can keep your hands and feet warmer and you'll have a couple to stuff in around your neck covered with bandana and held in place w/the drawstring on your neck gaiter.

I've seen hypothermia set in on a ride where the ambient temps were in the upper 40's/and the rider had on jeans, riding jacket, gloves, andfull face helmet.

It took a long stop, warm fluids, and adding his Frogg Togg's while stopped to stop the onset.

Then, on the bike, the Frogg Togg's added enough, as did riding at a slower rate and stopping every 30 minutes, to allow a safe return.

Be prepared.

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Another technique to warm fingers quickly is to rotate arms in windmill fashion. This tends to force the blood to the hand/fingers. This is while stopped, not while riding.

 

Unless you're Richard, in which case, have at!

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Paul,

That is one of the reasons I still carry rain gear w/"waterproof" riding gear

Couldn't agree more, when without a heated liner, a light rain suit does wonders to keep the wind (and chill) out.

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Electric gear: it can fail...

I always carry my electric gear and I use it all the time, summer because I live on Lake Superior, and in winter on a much more limited basis since I ride less in winter now. The thing that fails is not the electric gear, but the controller. I've gone through three controllers in over 10 years, but have the same electric jacket and pants. Two back up options for controllers; one is to carry a second plug in controller, which is the best option. The second; I made up a toggle on/off switch in response to one failure, and I carry that as my back up. You need to be aware of the plugs, which can be an issue. My electrics uses the SAE plug, which is available at auto stores and hardware stores. The current Gerbing plug and the Widder plug are both not available on the road. Carrying an adaptor is prudent for those plugs.

 

For the very unlikely chance that I ever have an electric jacket fail while traveling in summer, I'd probably buy a large puffy ski jacket that fits over my riding gear. In fact, I've used the puffy jacket method when I've traveled far/all day in sub-zero winter, with my electrics under everything.

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