Articles Blog

Winter Riding Tips for Adventure Motorcyclists

Winter Riding Tips for Adventure Motorcyclists


big surprise in the winter it’s cold
and that means traction is a whole new game whether you commute year-round you like
to play in the winter or if you just end up in winter conditions on at or
traction is always one of the top concerns and how we set up the bike and
the techniques we use make all the difference in maintaining that limited
traction this is winter riding this looks like a nice easy powdery snow but
it turns out this is packed ice the technique here is… and here’s the thing…
when you get on to solid ice whether it’s on pavement, gravel or here all bets
are off. it’s solid ice! there’s no traction so the goal here is to ride at
a pace that allows you to see what’s coming up this is one we want to get up
on those pegs the more challenging the environment the more technical or riding
gets so we can stand up so we can see what’s going on
what makes this ride-able today is that I have just enough churned up ice and snow
above it and I can get some traction in it and if you look at the tires back
here you’ll see a little bit of tread and where I’m actually leaving a tread
pattern up behind the tire that allows me to have some forward momentum. the
instinct for most riders when they get into this situation is as the riding the
front end may turn and slide or the back may slip and immediately the clutch is
off the riders throw the feet down and try to stop but in this you need to keep
the momentum once you get any kind of uphill if you stop you’re dead in the
water you’re starting all over again you want to keep forward momentum to do that
let me keep the RPMs up about five hundred rpms above what I actually
moving forward I’m gonna keep one to two fingers on that quad you just slip that
clutch just to keep the momentum going because if I feel the back wheel spin I
immediately need to buffer just enough power from the back wheel that I reduced
the spin but I keep moving forward that’s the goal that’s what I’m after if
I get into a situation where it’s deeper I may actually allow enough spin where I
have to paddle out and that’s why we have knobbies or more aggressive tires in
this kind of a riding environment what makes this so challenging is you have an
ice edge trap here this is solid and a flat surface that the front tire can’t
crawl up and over when your front tire comes in against that hard edge it ends
up going parallel to the edge so it’s side by side and one the front tire and
the back tire both come into it the bike can’t balance and it’ll fall over so
when that front tire comes up against that edge trap what you need to do is
turn the handlebars towards the actual ledge here this frozen the little micro
frozen cliff and that prize that front tire backing away so the bike can
continue to balance that front tire can serpentine in situations like this where
it’s really frozen you may end up in a situation where you’re maybe three four
or five even ten feet where that front tire is pushing against the edge but
you’re not able to relaxing let it come back out and you’re pushing in and the
bike is crawling sideways and that front tire is pushing sideways against the
edge that’s perfectly okay if you lose balance and throw your feet to the
ground just don’t lose momentum this is fun this is a challenge but it’s not
necessarily what I’d recommend for a commute! temperature really is the biggest
difference between winter and the other seasons when it’s warm out going from
dry pavement to wet pavement can have a very small change in actual traction but
as we get into colder temperatures when we get to near freezing or freezing
temperatures then it makes all the difference this thin sheet of water can
very quickly turn to ice but also the dry pavement also loses a ton of
traction the tires need to be warm they need to flex and put heat into them to
get maximum traction that means in the winter even on dry pavement our traction
can be significantly reduced make sure you reduce your lean angles
and reduce your speeds compared to summers
I prefer riding gravel roads in the winter gravel is the one surface where
my performance actually goes up in the winter and there’s a couple reasons for
this one I don’t have to worry about dust the ground is more packed in
because the is the rains come through and other vehicles go over the gravel
they they pack everything down nice and tight and it’s a lot easier to predict
what the traction is the bonus to riding on gravel in the winter is it’s always a
cooler temperature which means I get to wear all of my safety gear without all
the temperature concerns and the overheating. my riding technique changes
very little. I do however still have to pay attention for black ice the moisture
that gets into the gravel that helps it pack down to become predictable can also
freeze when we get near those freezing or below freezing temperatures and they
can catch you off-guard so do have to pay attention for that this is fun it’s
one of the hidden treasures of writing in the winter tread pattern and tire
pressure are two primary concerns when looking to maximize your traction in the
winter when looking at tread pattern you’ll see I run a more aggressive tire
in the winter if I’m only running on pavement or hard gravel whether I have a
street bias adventure tire or very aggressive knobby it’s not going to make
a lot of difference but when I get into conditions like snow or mud or other
traction situations where I may end up needing to paddle now I need that gap in
those tires so a 50-50 like the time running here or an aggressive knobby
will give me that extra advantage if I choose to run tire studs in a in a
motorcycle tire I need to make sure that that tread is as thick as possible
so when I run the studs into the tread it doesn’t pierce all the way through
the tire and give me a flat you will need to have motorcycle specific studs
to do though attire needs to move and flex and
the more it moves and flexes the more heat goes into the tire that heat helps
our tires have more traction this is one of the reasons why knobby tires on the
big bikes wear out so much faster than a street bias adventure tire in the winter
running an aggressive 50/50 or knobby tire can be to our advantage it’s hard
to talk about tires without talking about tire pressure tire pressure is
critical on the motorcycles and as you probably know watching the other videos
I’m not a huge proponent of constantly airing down and err enough for every
situation every time I leave the pavement but winter riding is the
exception and the reason is most riders believe that by airing down you increase
the area that touches the ground contact patch giving them more traction this
isn’t actually true it’s about pounds per square inch and the idea when we air
down in the winter is not that we’re putting more surface area down but we’re
allowing the tire to flex more because it’s rolling over a larger traction
patch it moves and flexes putting heat into the tire because the roads are
colder in the winter and the tires are colder in the winter we need as much
heat as possible to give us every advantage when airing a tire up or down
you want to start with the tire pressure that’s recommended for that tire on that
motorcycle if you’re running one of the stock tires you can look in the owner’s
manual and you can air up 10% or down 10% without any adverse effect after
that 10% you want to be careful and experiment if you’re running an entire
that was not stock on that motorcycle the best place to get that optimum
starting pressure is from the tire manufacturer the maximum air pressure
that’s printed on the sidewall the tire is for maximum load it is not
necessarily the ideal pressure for maximum traction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *