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Winter Riding Questions

8676 Views 25 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  mo_snow
I would add just one more tip. Strap your bike into the bed of your friends pickup truck and have him haul you into work.

I was in Chicago in March once and froze my ass off. It was colder than Philly in January.

OK, seriously, the biggest problem I have in the rain, other than traffic is visibility. My face shield fogs, followed by rain on the shield and once my glasses get fogged or wet, I'm blind. So, don't wear glasses. Find an anti-fog shield for your helmet. Buy a pair of gloves with the little index-finger wiper to clear off the water droplets from your face shield.

But, between rain, idiot drivers, pot holes, oil and other debris on the roads I'd leave the bike home and find another way to work. If you have covered parking at work and the weather is clear in the morning you can time the ride home or get a ride when it rains.
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I commute down to about 32 and have never had tire problems with my michelin pilot roads. I don't close the vents in my helmet in the rain and again haven't had any problems. Sometimes fogging is a problem. I don't know about the making breating easier.

1) You don't need the vents open in cool weather anyway. Yes, rain will get in and get your head wet if they are open, but I doubt it will ruin anything.

2) First, winter temps are usually colder than 30-50F. December thru February can be brutal, and you won't believe how cold you will get no matter what you have on. Get something that covers your neck and face for sure. That cold air up the helmet will freeze your lips together. Watch out for black ice and accumilation of salt on the roads. The tire coice doesn't make much difference. You have to be careful when it's cold. There are plenty of days it's best to take the car. Learn which days those are.

3) Stay farther behind. What you will notice when it gets colder is water coming out the exhaust and freezing on the ground in front of you. Makes for lots of fun if you stop on one at the next light or your foot lands on one.

Ride smart and stay off two wheels when it's nasty out. I can tell you that from experience.
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If your helmet gets wet inside just keep it in your domicile so that the heat will dry it.

I use a plexifairing on my bike and therefore I can leave my helmet faceshield open in the cold in traffic. Even with vents your faceshield is going to fog up at a stop unless you use some anti-fogging agent or leave it up. A plexifairing would be a good investment on a CB450 for winter.

If it gets cold enough to freeze don't ride. No tires will keep you up if you hit a patch of ice....unless you buy spiked ice racing tires.

You have to decide if commuting when its really cold and pouring rain is worth the trouble. Don't forget about all the people on the roads in cars and SUVs who will be hydroplaning near you on their bald tires.
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I would avoid riding when the temp is below freezing unless the roads are completely dry. For warmth, try They have heated jackets, pants, sox, and gloves that work very well.
For the face shield fogging, use a Fog City shield. I ride year round and it never fogs up. And living in the PNW it rains a lot and averages around 40 degrees in the winter.

I also have found out the the Michelin Pilot Power stays soft in the lower temps and handle cold rainy roads just fine. Much better then Dunlop 220s and Bridgestone 020s.

I also have a set of waterproof gloves with a wiper built into the back of the thumb. Great little invention.
Mine leaves brown streaks on the face shield.
Best Mod

My recommendation would be to add heated grips to your bike. The parts only cost around $20 and it takes about an hour to do the install. Best mod I've ever made to my bikes, including my track bike.

You'll be amazed at how much of a difference it makes to have warm hands.

Anti-fog devices: Get a fog city. Nothing else compares. That doesn't do any good for your glasses. If I suspect it is a glass fogging morning I put in my contacts.

Oh, and winter comuting implies more riding in the dark. I have lots of reflective tape all over my helmet and bike. I may look like a dork, and probably did before the tape, but at least the cagers can SEE that I'm a dork.

Wrap grip warmers. Heated vest or jacket. I'd listen to longride, he's an experienced rider that lives in your area. If he doesn't ride I wouldn't.
Two things might help:

[*]For ani-fogging this is the best thing is Shoei

CX-1V Clear Shield W/Pinlock Pins"
Much better than Fog City..

[*]Tips from the experts
You beat me to it again
True story here. I was at O'Hare last March flying to Florida, and I was standing outside waiting to check my luggage in with a few other people. It was maybe 50F and the wind was blowing a bit. I was in a t-shirt and the girl in front of me had a heavy jacket, hat and gloves on, and was shivering like a dog shytting razorblades. After a few minutes she looks over at me and says "Aren't you cold?" and I said "Not really. You aren't from around here are you?" She said "No, I live in California". Visions of Buz with his heated vest came to mind!
Midwest represent, original Minnesotan here.

The very first time I came to CA was to visit my aunt and uncle down in San Diego. That night we went out to dinner and being March the evening temperature had fallen to the mid 60s. Out came the heavy coats for them as we were going to be at an outdoor table. At this table they also had those free-standing heaters, which I had never seen anywhere else before. The entire night they kept asking if I was cold or wanted a coat, as I was just wearing some light pants and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up. It was just too funny, at the time in Minnesota it was something like -20F.

People keep telling me that my ability to handle the cold will fade the longer I live in LA but going on my third year now I still ride comfortably in 60F weather with the liner out of my Phoenix jacket.
1> Water gets in. Won't hurt the helmet. They're designed to be washed. Don't worry. They won't be open below 40F anyway.

2> Electric gear is the answer. You must first verify your bikes charging system will handle the extra load. Once that's done start with heated gloves or grips at a minimum. If your commute is longer than 30 minutes then step up to a heated vest. (These suggestions take into account your riding gear) Tires don't matter. You're on two with a contact patch of a half dollar -vs- four with a patch larger than a Canadian bill.

3>Back off! Most newbies tend to continue to drive like a cager. Don't stop 12" off the back bumper of the cage infront of you. On your bike you should be stopping at the extreme left or right of the bumper infront of you with a distance which allows IMMEDIATE escape if the guy behind you can't stop. Study proper riding techniques at every opportunity. RIDER magazine is one of the best. (Find every article ever written by the late Lawrence Grodsky. His articles have taught me more than any other class I've taken.

I've commuted in less than 10F for 30 minutes on either an ST1100 or a '00 Road King for over 8 years. I also did the same at over 5 hours one way at no less than 28F. Yes, I call it commuting because I lived in OKC,OK and worked in Hot Springs, AR and the commute was weekly for over a year-and-a-half.

Talk and listen to other commuters from your area but also do everything you can to continue to grow as a rider. Commuting in extreme conditions will accelerate the learning curve. Have fun!
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I had a Nolan N100 that had a similar anti-fog system. No-brainer installation, but a properly installed Fog City is no less effective.
Hi, Raj, Chicago Honda rider here (1994 CB 1000), and I also use a Shoei RF-1000. Let me tell you right now, pay attention to these other Midwesterner posts. If it's below 32, STOP. I tried to be an all-weather rider the past 2 winters, and I had a lay down last winter that scared me pretty bad--I got lucky. It was about 20 as it was for most of January last year (the problem with averages is they are usually surrounded by lows and highs). I was coming home from a restaurant in the Gold Coast. Streets were dry and had been for days. Stopped at a red light, no right on red. The light went green, I was making a right. I pulled my left foot up, rolled on the throttle, and watched the bike go 20 feet in front of me. Just like that! There wasn't a drop of moisture on the ground except the kind I couldn't see, and even on those warm city streets, it happened. If it had been a right on red and I had done so, I could have been killed.

I don't even ride in the rain much in Chicago because 3 million cars leave so much damned sludge on the roads that they are going to be like glass even after that initial rain. I can't believe how low-traction some of the interstates are even after a good rain.

Do yourself a favor--I'm as hard core as anybody in this city, but come January, buy a can of Sta-bil and wait it out.

If you do ride in the rain, leave tons of room and be gentle on the brakes. The problem is, even with great tires, the distance it requires to stop safely on a bike in the rain on our streets is sometimes greater than traffic will allow, and people will continually cut you off (now I know how truckers feel). I've often almost rear-ended folks because they cut me off in the rain and I was on the verge of lock-up trying to stop the bike.

This is not a great city for motorcyclists in inclement weather. Good riding!
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Stop reading after Tigercubs reply. This is the only correct answere.
If your inexperienced I would stay home most cold days. You would not beleve how hard it can be to ride in cold weather. If your going to go out don't drive when the roads are frozen and get a heated vest and grips!
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