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Aging Cafe` Racer
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Depends on where you are. The "best" winter bike for the Pacific Northwest IMO is an 1980's BMW RT. air cooled, carburated, tubeless tires, shaft drive, electronic ignition and a barn door fairing combined with a tractable motor and passable brakes make them perfect for riding in wet and cold weather. I plan on using my Bandit S for a winter bike since I didn't get any bites trying to sell it. For the cold wet winters we have you want some sort of windshield and fairing, a more or less upright riding position, good brakes and sticky tires and decent hard bags. If ABS is available I'd get that too.

Aside from the BMW I'd say a Kawasaki Concours, Yamaha FJR, Honda ST1100, Suzuki Bandit, Triumph Trophy or Tiger, maybe an older BMW K100 or K75LT would be about the best bets. I'd personally stay away from a bigger bike like a Goldwing, Voyager, newer K-LT, because of the weight.

Even though a Harley FLH or FLT are quite heavy, they'd still work because they're well balanced, have belt drives and are pretty much impervious to weather.
 

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Really depends what you want it for and what kind of riding you plan to do. If you want to commute on it, something with ABS, heated grips, and decent protection - but not too heavy - would seem prudent. Many BMWs and VFRs come to mind. The traction control available on the new R (and more next year) could also help if you're really looking for any-weather capability.

You could of course go the other way, get a DS or supermoto style bike and not worry as much about sliding around. Handguards could help with the cold, or you could wear electric clothes. Could be lots of fun, but probably not as practical.

I ride all year in the mid-Atlantic, as long as there's no snow/ice on the roads. Currently I have an SV650 ('01, carbs) - no wind protection, no heat, no ABS. I wear a 'stich and layer under it. Works fine down to the 20's, I call it quits when it drops below that. I did have a Yamaha Seca II that would freeze its carbs below about 25. My VFR never had that problem, and the SV hasn't either.

One thing to think about is that motorcycle tires act more like car summer tires than all seasons - when it gets cold they get hard and don't have nearly as much grip. I found out the hard way how quickly they cool...
 

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Hi. Not to dodge your question, but I think any modern bike, like a car, will take you through the winter. Last year I rode an S83 cruiser, an SV, and a KLR through the winter in NJ. They all ran fine. Even the carburated bikes started right up. It's way more important for you to be dressed right. My minimum reqs would be some kind of windshield for the bike and heat for my hands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys. Yeah I live in Maryland. I will be riding to college everyday so don't know if that changes any of your suggestions or not. But thanks a lot.
 

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MODERATOR X
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Brrrr.it's cold....

Thanks guys. Yeah I live in Maryland. I will be riding to college everyday so don't know if that changes any of your suggestions or not. But thanks a lot.
I use to ride in the winter in VA Beach, and the winter weather is real close to what you'll be dealing with in Maryland.

Get a heated riding suit. And some ice-studs on the tires. Black ice will take you down in a split second.

I used a US Navy Avaition dry suit, and suudded my front and rear tires (on trials universal Japanese Dunlops) on the outer tread.

Also, get a bike that is light in weight, as you'll be picking it up a lot, after you dump it several times in a frozen over parking lot somewhere near Fredricksburg.
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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I use to ride in the winter in VA Beach, and the winter weather is real close to what you'll be dealing with in Maryland.

Get a heated riding suit. And some ice-studs on the tires. Black ice will take you down in a split second.

I used a US Navy Avaition dry suit, and suudded my front and rear tires (on trials universal Japanese Dunlops) on the outer tread.

Also, get a bike that is light in weight, as you'll be picking it up a lot, after you dump it several times in a frozen over parking lot somewhere near Fredricksburg.
I had a '67 Beetle back then....snow....ice...pah! nothing could stop my mighty bug except for this VERY proper and correct black family in a large Buick on their way to church...I rear ended them doing about 5 mph when I didn't notice they'd stopped. They got out, looked at their car which had no damage, looked at my POS bug and scraggely hung-over self and gave me the best look-down-your-nose-at-an-ugly-insect glare I've ever had, got back in their car and drove off without a word. I honestly felt lower than ant poop, it was without a doubt the best put down I have ever recieved.....
 

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The Toad
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Where I live the best 'bike' for winter is a Polaris Rocky Mountain King Trail 550.
 

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MODERATOR X
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May I suggest...

For back East folk who have to drive through snow-bogs and weiner dogs, I suggest this:
 

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Bugs are great in the snow. I ran into a group of imbibed teens on eyear at the bottom of an icy hill in January. We tried to pull them out with the Jeep, but they couldn't drive. I hopped in the Bug, feathered the clutch, and climbed right out, unassisted.

The enxt year, we rolled the same car flattracking on the lake. Waaay cool.
 

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Aging Cafe` Racer
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Wait a minute!!!!! I know, a Ural Patrol.....I'd like to have one for a beater myself, just fill up the sidecar with beets and cabbage for ballast, a few bottles of Stoli for courage and off you go across the tundra.
 

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You've got a few gems of advice here. I'd look for a bike with a good sized main fairing, sufficient alternator to power heated clothes and some auxillary lights, not too much horsepower (all the better to lose the rear wheel with), and wear something that's very visible (most of us commute at night during the winter).
I have six bikes but in Winter in the Pacific Northwest the Concours gets the most mileage, followed by the V-Strom. The rest wait for warmer winter days and sit on a battery tender.
 
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