Posted on Nov 28, 2017

Tips for riding motorcycle in cold winter weather

Sleigh bells are jingling and for the few, the brave, and the possibly the frostbitten, it is still riding season.

Riders are a stubborn bunch. With questionable mental soundness they forge ahead into situations that the general population usually deems odd, if not insane … winter riding, for example.

However, if you do choose to ride between snowbanks – here are a few useful tips for staying on your toes, and keeping them.


Motorcyclist riding bike on snowy country road

  1. Layer smarter, not rounder.

When it comes to layering protocol, sometimes less really is more, or at least warmer and less goofy looking. Ideal layering is:

  1. Wicking: A thick wicking layer (ideally with thumb holes to prevent inquisitive winter drafts).
  2. Insulating: A thin midlayer made of wool, polyester, or if you're feeling fancy a blend of the two.
  3. More Insulating: A puffy, insulating layer with a hood.
  4. Shell: A waterproof, breathable shell with covered seams.


Motorcycle on snowy street

  1. It’s still all about tires.

In winter more than ever, you run the risk of losing traction on things like salt, ice, and increasing regret. Tire type (all-weather tires are a good bet) and quality are critical. Tire age is easy to determine: Next to the DOT markings is a four-digit code, the first two digits are manufacturing week, and the second two digits are year.

You’ll want tires that have good tread, no sign of rot, and are younger than six years old. Bear in mind that PSI will drop in cold weather as well, creating another fun element to be mindful of when dashing through the snow.


  1. Eat!

This safety tip almost makes cold weather riding worth it. Eating is a great way to kick-start your metabolism as the act of digestion burns calories, which creates heat. Just don’t reach for a Popsicle. 


  1. Math.

Although substantially less fun than eating, calculating windchill is a serious business. Since riders have so many more exposed bits compared to riding in cars, windchill is always important to keep in mind. Before riding out on a cold day, consider calculating actual temperatures to know what you’re in for. For example:

A balmy 45-degree day, at highway speeds, will actually feel like literally freezing temperatures. Consider for a moment if you’d like to expose any part of your body to that for an extended period of time.


Motorcyclist riding bike on snowy road in the distance

  1. Let it snow, and enjoy it from home.

Even the most extreme weather riders will admit that when the white stuff flies it’s time to throw in the shop rag. Although beautiful, nothing is comparable to ending the day safe, sound, and enjoying the storm from in front of a warm fireplace.


Continuous education is an important part of riding safely! Whether you’re riding in summer, winter, or any of the in-between seasons, the law firm of Hupy and Abraham always has helpful safety information and rider tips here! And to show your enthusiasm YEAR-ROUND, order your FREE “Watch for Motorcycles” sticker here!

Photo credit: Zebadiah Rausch Photography