Riding a motorcycle in winter is an invigorating experience. The air often seems more clear when it’s cold out, and the sunshine feels so welcome during these short winter days. There’s also a special pride in being one of the intrepid four-season riders. Then again, there is that bone-chilling cold feeling at the end of some rides.
The wind chill factor
While it’s cool to ride all year, being cold is not good. It’s surprising how fast feeling a little cold can turn into a dangerous situation. While riding a motorcycle, you can develop hypothermia, defined as when your body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees. Riding at a normal road speed of 55 mph on a sunny winter day with an ambient air temperature of 35 degrees creates a wind chill factor of 18 degrees. You can lose body heat real fast at low wind chill factors.
Understand the risk
Hypothermia is especially dangerous on a motorcycle, since it greatly diminishes mental and physical riding skills. It’s important to realize the decline in your ability to ride safely begins early in the process. Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- Uncontrollable shivering
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Mental confusion
- Loss of consciousness
Tips to stay warm
During cold weather, the goal is to preserve your body’s core temperature. A key factor in doing this is not exposing your skin to the cold air stream. Here are some things to keep in mind when riding in cold weather:
- Always pack extra cold-weather gear.
- Plan to ride reasonable distances—remember the temperature drops quickly after sunset.
- Know the area’s weather forecast before you ride.
- Dress in layers so you can adjust as temperatures change.
- If you sweat in your gear, you will chill faster.
- Layering your rain gear on top can help block the wind.
- Avoid tight-fitting combinations of riding gear.
- Wear a full-face helmet.
- Wear insulated, full-finger gloves.
- Use electric riding gear—there are many options available.
- Consider installing a windshield if your motorcycle doesn’t already have one.
- A handlebar-mounted thermometer can help you stay aware of the actual air temperature.
- Make frequent stops to get out of the cold and warm up.
- Fuel your body—eat a hot meal and drink warm non-alcoholic beverages during rest stops.
- Remember to check on your co-rider. They get cold, too.
With a little planning, the right gear, and some common sense, you can safely and comfortably ride your motorcycle during the winter.
Till next time, stay warm and ride safe!
SOURCE - Dairyland Insurance - 1/10/2017 - Tips to avoid hypothermia while riding a motorcycle