For many motorcyclists, the fall means the end of their riding season is near, and it’s nearing time to read our ultimate guide on how to prepare your bike for winter storage.
But putting a bike away for the winter isn’t an option for me. I don’t own a car, and I like riding in all weather; it’s fun. But, like most outdoor activities, it’s only fun if you’re prepared. These few pieces of essential kit and quick tips will make your winter motorcycling trips warm, dry and enjoyable.
When I do any activity outdoors, not just motorcycling, I wear merino wool socks, or at least something breathable. Due to the nature of merino wool, these types of socks can breathe, meaning they dry quickly when wet. More importantly, the mid-layer traps air, and that’s air your foot will warm up, keeping your toes nice and toasty.
Pretty-much any top hiking brand will do the trick (check out REI.com and the likes). I’ve researched and written about the warmest socks for all outdoor adventures over at Noob Norm.
If you’re planning to ride in winter, heated grips are essential. In fact, I use them basically any day it drops below around 18 degrees (I’m in the UK, so that’s most days). And, almost all the time when it’s raining.
What having heated grips also means, is that you can have a pair of extreme all-weather gloves, and super-specific summer gloves. Without heated grips, you’ll either be compromising on the two sets of gloves you buy to try and cover that middle ground or be buying three different sets…
…that’s bad news!
I’d recommend the Oxford Sports grip. Oxford do a range of heated grips (sports, cruiser, touring etc), so it might be worth heading to your local store and seeing which grip setup is the most comfortable for you.
Winter Specific Gloves
If you’ve not done already, you’ll want a set of winter specific gloves. Typically, my summer gloves (RST R-18) I use in temperatures of 12 degrees upwards. That’s with heated grips on. You’ll probably be looking at 15+ degrees if you don’t have heated grips.
As I’ve mentioned, heated grips cover that crossover, where you’re not sure whether to wear summer or winter gloves. Without them, you’ll need a third set, not to mention, in extreme cold, be struggling to feel your fingers, even in your winter threads.
Editor’s note: If heated grips aren’t your thing, you have more than one motorcycle, or it’s already too cold to start wrenching on your bike, try heated motorcycle gloves like the ones from Gerbing pictured above.
This is one of those things I never wore. Now I’ve worn one in the cold, I find it comfortable, and wear it on most rides, providing it’s not a scorcher of a day (which like I said, is rare, I live in the UK).
A neck warmer isn’t just a buff against the wind, it also stops rain dribbling down your neck and into your jacket. If you don’t have one of these in your kit bag, I’d set aside a few dollars and go and grab one.
Like the neck warmer, a good set of waterproofs makes riding in the rain bearable. I use Oxford’s rain jacket and rain pants, which is a two-piece.
One thing I will say, is I’ve tried on my cousin’s Held one-piece waterproof, and it offers more rain protection.
With my two-piece, in torrential downpours, moisture eventually finds its way in between where the pants and jacket overlap. Nothing major, but still…
I’ve already got multiple 1-day trips planned in the 350km-500km range for winter. During summer, I take little more than a few tools under my seat, my phone, and wallet.
However, winter’s a different story. I like to take a spare set of gloves, t-shirt, socks, and sometimes a flask with a brew in it.
The thing is with luggage, even when it’s stacked with 50lbs+ of kit, I barely notice it’s on my bike. And, what I’d take on a winter/wet road trip, is barely 10lbs.
Why not a rucksack? Put simply, I do have one of those streamlined backpacks, but I only wear it if I’m commuting, as it restricts me on the bike; I’d sooner spend 5 minutes strapping my tail pack on.
I’ve written about my Oxford T50 tail bag here. But, a more suitable luggage option for a day trip in my opinion, would be a detachable tank bag. My cousin runs the Givi; it looks pretty-slick and carries plenty of kit.
You should already have a pin-lock, and that’s going to stop you fogging up most of the time. However, pin-locks are rarely enough to combat fog in the rain, especially in the winter months.
What you’ll want, is an anti-fog spray that’s designed for visors, or the likes of dirt bike goggles.
If you’re a cheapskate (that’s me), you could go down the washing up liquid route.
I used to coat the inside of my enduro goggles with washing up liquid, rub it in, then dry it off, and honestly, that worked about as well as anti-fog spray.
Tires [Safety Note]
Although most motorcyclists don’t plan for it, we’ve all been caught out in the rain and cold. But if you’re planning on going all-year and all-weather like I do, I’d suggest making sure your tires are in top condition and pressures are correct.
Your part-worn tires might grip well in warm dry conditions…probably not so much so in the cold and wet. In fact, my bike’s in the shop right now to get a new front. I’m going to try out the Pirelli Angel GT; I’ll let you know what I think when I put a few thousand miles on it.
Editor’s note: You can look into a Heidenau winter tire, like the one pictured above.
Thanks For Reading…
Got any suggestions for what to wear or take on a winter motorcycle trip to keep warm, dry and as comfortable as possible?
Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!