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Posts Tagged ‘Winter’

We have talked about riding when it is cold (part 1part 2part 3), an activity which is not as much fun as riding during the summer to say the least. But with the right clothing (heated jackets, gloves, etc) and equipment (heated grips, saddles) you can ride even when it is freezing.

Apron-Cutoff

But if you have ever been in Europe, even in the summer, you will have with no doubt noticed that many motorcycles and scooters have something over their ride; it is an apron.

Many riders over there buy an apron that gets attached to the handlebar or a central attach point, and then the apron stretches all the way over the rider’s legs and even chest.

Apron-grips

Several aprons even extend over the handlebars covering the rider’s arms. Usually the aprons are leather or thick plastic and you will not be surprised to see the inside made out of fur or wool.

The apron keeps the rider not only warm but also dry. Which is why you also see aprons used during the summer months; the rider wants to be kept dry. It is quite often the couriers / express delivery riders who use aprons, but nowadays business folks who use their two wheels to commute. Remember that in most European countries, people keep riding all year long, and often have their motorcycle as only mode of transportation. So it is a necessity.

Apron-Motorcycle-Taxi

Motorcycle taxi almost all have them now. These taxis transport their passengers all year long, so they need to keep them warm, toasty and happy.

It is an interesting way of keeping warm and dry, even in the winter that does not seem to have caught on in the USA. Maybe one day?

Apron-Motorcycle

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When the weather gets cold, really cold, and the snow is on the ground, most of even the hardest of hardcore bikers will leave their motorcycles in the garage. Only a very few will go out in winter conditions on their motorcycle; some because of their passionate love for riding a motorcycle, some because they have no choice.

Heated-LinerBut whether you ride in the winter or not, the advantages of owning heated jackets (and even trousers and gloves) has advantages that many have not considered.

First of all, if you do decide to ride in the winter, you really need to keep very warm. If your body cools down, you are going to lose your focus and when you do, you are going to have an accident. Wrapping yourself up in layers of clothing is good, but probably not sufficient. Read these articles (part 1, part 2, part 3) we wrote about winter riding to find out more.

Putting on electrically heated clothing is going to make you feel very comfortable. So if you are planning to ride in the winter, plan to get some heated jackets at least. There are male and female versions. Heated gloves are going to be pretty much in demand as well.

An Advantage You Will Not Have Thought Of

But there is another advantage of owning heated clothing you probably will not have thought of. And that is to use it when driving your car!

snow-car

When your car sits outside in the cold, and you arrive in the morning to drive to work, all shivering, you start your car and put on the heater. Then you drive off, and all the time you wait for the heater to get to a proper temperature. And this takes quite some time, and then when you’ve reached a proper and cozy temperature, you’re probably already close to work, and your windows are fogged up.

If you put on an electrically heated liner for example under your coat, plug it in when you enter your car, you’ll find that the heat builds up almost instantaneously. So you will be warm and cozy even before you drive out of your street.

The other advantages are that your windows will not fog up and you use less power to heat your liner (and maybe gloves) than your conventional heater. Motorcycle heated clothing are made to be used on motorcycles where there is less power than in a car, so electrical consumption is far less, so you use less gas.

So now you can drive your car in the winter while feeling nice and warm, all by using your heated motorcycle clothing.

Be ecological, and use a heated motorcycle jacket in the car.

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The last part of the test review of my winter ride is the boots (click here for the Tour Master Synergy 2 review and click here for a review of the Bell Vortex Helmet). Your body temperature must be kept warm, as does your head. But the parts of the body that usually suffers are your feet (and your hands, but that can be solved quickly and reasonably cheaply). Although you can buy heated socks, I decided that those might be too much for 32°F. Maybe for when I visit the North Pole.

I put on my trusty Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots. I’ve used them for off-road riding, but it was the first time I used them in the winter. For winter riding you need to not only have boots that are at least waterproof, but also boots that grip well on the ground. When you stop your motorcycle during winter, chances are that the ground at best will be wet, or worse, that there’s ice or snow.

Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots

Alpinestars Scout Waterproof Boots

The Alpinestars are made out of leather, but have an inside membrane that is 100% waterproof. So not rain proof; no, much better – waterproof. This means no matter how much water the weather God throws at you, your feet will remain dry (as long as the water doesn’t come in from above).

The ankles are well protected from impact and crashes, and a removable insole helps absorb shocks. However, I’m uncomfortable with the “footbed”, since my feet are high, so I don’t wear it. It’s a question of comfort, and it may work for you, it didn’t for me.

The whole boot is closed with three adjustable buckles.

During the winter ride my feet stayed not only dry, despite there being a lot of wet surfaces, but also warm. I did not feel any cold air, either circulating inside, or from the outside. And that is a good thing, especially in the winter. For boots that are not even billed as winter boots, they do the job very well. Very versatile.

Alpinestars-Scout-Waterproof-Boots-SoleSeveral times I had to stop for traffic lights and intersections while the road was wet and slippery; The boots worked admirably. The sole part is like a Continental TKC-80 off-road tire; heavy studs. The road grip is admirably and safe.

Changing gears was no problem whatsoever. Easy to move, easy to shift.

As boots go, this one is tops. Highly recommendable.

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During the cold winter months we’ve managed to try out the Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Heater Jacket Liner. We all know how important it is to stay warm when riding during the winter months, and it also applies to those times of the year that temperatures drop, especially at night. Staying warm is essential, since a body temperature that is too low, means that you are not functioning the way you should.

The Synergy 2.0 is a liner, in other words, you put it under your normal motorcycle jacket. It doesn’t replace your jacket. The liner is hooked up to your bike’s 12V system by means of a wire.

Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Heater Jacket Liner

Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Heater Jacket Liner

The liner comes equipped with a temperature control device. You use the device to lower or increase the temperature according to your personal preference.

We tested the liner in cold weather, it was some 32°F (0°C), cold enough not to ride normally speaking unless you have lots of layers of clothing. We hooked up the control unit to the bike’s 12V accessory plug. NOTE: Tour Master warns you NOT to combine heating units from other brands, if you do, your warrantee expires.

The liner is much thinner than what you’d expect. It fits nicely under any jacket without it feeling bulky. The liner is lightweight, so it didn’t feel like you had on a heavy jacket (apart form the heavy jacket itself).

Initially we used the Synergy 2.0 with our normal winter gloves, but that proves to be not so smart in cold weather. The body was nice and warm, snug like two bugs in a rug. But quickly our fingers were cold, and since we don’t have heated grips, we had to stop.

We added a heated glove for Tour Master (the Tour Master Syngery Electric Heather Leather Glove). The only downside for me was that the lead going to the glove is a bit short, meaning you need to “wrestle” a bit to put on the gloves. A few inches more would have made it easier.

The included thigh-mounted leg band, onto which you place the temperature control unit is God-sent. It means the control unit is not flapping around, and you can reach it easily to adjust the temperature.

Initially I had put the temperature too high, afraid of getting cold, but quickly I adjusted the temperature to be really comfortable. It worked like a charm. But unless you have heated handlebars, I strongly recommend using heated gloves.

As far as heated liners go, this one is above reproach. It works like a charm, keeps you warm, doesn’t make you bulky and for the price, you can ride all year round. I plan to use it when ever the temperature drops too much.

Click here to buy the Tour Master Synergy 2.0 Heater Jacket Liner.

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If you are in the market for a new or pre-owned motorcycle, and you are not too fussy about the model, colors and options, the time to buy a new bike is now.

Since most people stop riding their motorcycle during the winter, many are longing for a new ride the next year. So they will try to offload their motorcycle now, raise the cash, and then in spring buy a new model.

Snowed-In-Motorcycle for sale

In other words, many bikers will be trying to sell their bikes, and the longer it takes, the cheaper the motorcycles become. Many bikers don’t think about buying a motorcycle when it snows, so the demand is low, but the offers are quite plenty.

Check the local newspaper listing, or check the on-line web sites like eBay or Craiglist. You’ll be sure to find some interesting motorcycles for sale at very reasonable prices.

If you are more into a new motorcycle, but you don’t really need next year’s model, now is the time to go through the doors of your local motorcycle dealer. They will be desperate to get rid of this year’s inventory, often giving big discounts.

Maybe you’ll not have the latest model, but in the end, do you really need that extra little gadget, or those 2 extra horsepowers the manufacturer has managed to squeeze out of the engine in next year’s model?

You will have less choice in terms of colors, usually your discounts will be limited to what is in stock. But you will not beat the price. And remember to negotiate. Don’t take their first offer, they need to get rid of their stock if they are getting new models for next year’s riding season.

The only problem you will most probably face is getting the bike home, especially if it’s snowing.

Happy hunting.

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Polar-Bear-Grand-Tour logoJust because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s the end of your motorcycle riding fun. Yes, agreed, it’s not easy in snowy conditions, and it will mean you need to wrap yourself up in loads of layers of clothing, but riding in the winter can be much fun. Especially when you join a group of likeminded bikers.

One of these groups constitute the Polar Bear Grand Tour. Some 550 motorcycle riders brave the icy conditions and set out for rideouts. Often the rides have a purpose, like a children’s charity; brining toys to kids.

(c) Polar Bear Grand Tour

The rides are centered around New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut. Riders met up at a general starting point on Sundays, and from there they head on out in the cold.

Riding in the winter earns you points, as do special awards like giving blood at the blood banks. The accumulated points earn you patches you can wear with pride.

(c) Polar Bear Grand Tour

So not only do you get to ride your motorcycle in the winter, you do some good as well.

Click here to access the Polar Bear Grand Tour web site.

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We have seen what kind of clothing you should wear, and we have looked at what kind of precautions you need to take in order to ride your motorcycle during the winter months.

Now, let us look at the actual ride itself.

Once autumn is in full swing, and then the long winter months have come, roads will have become slippery. At its best, rain will have made them wet, and its worst, black ice will have presented itself, making roads treacherous.

1. Take your Time

The main rule, rule #1, is take your time. Respect the roads! Just because you are riding in a nice part of twisties in the forest, with no ice or humidity, does not mean that in the next curve there will be none. Anywhere where there are shadows, the temperature can be much lower, resulting in ice. If a part of the road is in the shadows (of trees or buildings), while the rest of the road is in the sunshine, chances are that the roads appears to be rideable, when it’s not. So ride carefully.

2. Increase your distance

Roads have become slippery, no matter what the weather conditions are. Keep more distance with the next vehicle.

3. Do Not Take Too Long

Although riding in the winter is nice, especially when you are dressed for it, do not be fooled. If it is really cold out there, no matter what you have got on, your body will start getting colder and colder. So take pauses regularly to heat up.

4. Bring Sunglasses

Sunglasses are great in the summer, and they make you look cool. But in the winter they are often a life saving necessity. Daytime during winter months are short, meaning that the sun is at its lowest. Chances are that you will be blinded faster during winter months than during summer.

5. Unsure? Feet on the ground!

If you are hitting a spot on the road which looks slippery, do not take any risks. Put down your feet to balance the bike. This serves two purposes; 1) in case you start slipping, you can redress the bike, and 2) your center of gravity is lowered, making it easier to correct your movements.

But…..

6. If you drop the bike, let it go!

If you do drop the motorcycle because it slips, and your immediate efforts do not reestablish the position of your bike, LET IT DROP! If you try to keep your motorcycle upright while it is going down, you will hurt yourself. At the very least, you will sprain your back muscles, and the worst, .. you do not even want to think about it. So let it drop.

7. Enjoy

Despite the dangers, you should enjoy yourself. Just remember that car drivers behave differently in the winter as well. They may not see you since the sun is low, and they are mindful of the road conditions. So be visible, pay attention, and just enjoy a winter ride.


If you have taken a liking to riding in the winter, then maybe you would like to participate in the Elephant Rally, or as it is known, the Elefantentreffen, This is a German organized motorcycle event in the Alps, during the winter, and involves camping in the snow, and to get there, you must arrive on a motorcycle.




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