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Cold weather motorcycle riding requires extra safety to avoid being chilled to the bone

Added January 8, 2019
Front tire of motorcycle on snow

Winter motorcycle riders could be the most passionate and enthusiastic of bikers. They face bitter cold, poor road conditions, and the hazards of being invisible to other drivers. As George Thorogood sings, they’re “Bad to The Bone.” But if you ask any veteran winter motorcycle rider, they’ll tell you getting chilled to the bone isn’t a good thing.

Dangers of getting cold while riding

Getting chilled while winter riding is more than a little uncomfortable—it can be dangerous. A temperature of 40 degrees may feel like a warm winter day when you’re stopped. As soon as you hit highway speeds, it gets cold fast. At 65 mph, the wind chill turns that 40 degrees into a bone-chilling 24 degrees. Without the proper winter riding gear to maintain your body temperature, you can develop hypothermia.

Hypothermia is when your body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees. Long before that, your ability to safely operate a motorcycle will be significantly impaired. Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Inability to stop shivering
  • Becoming numb and weak
  • Losing fine motor control
  • Being mentally confused
  • Losing consciousness

Tips to stay warm while riding

Staying warm while riding in the winter isn’t all that complicated. It requires the right cold weather motorcycle riding gear and some common-sense approaches to the ride itself. Here are some gear recommendations:

  • Wear overlapping layers: This helps seal out the wind. You can adjust layers as temperatures change.
  • Don’t wear tight-fitting gear: Instead of insulating you, it can transfer body heat to the wind.
  • Avoid sweating: You’ll chill faster if you start to sweat in your gear.
  • Wear a helmet: A full-face helmet can help keep you warmer. Adding an insulated facemask is also a good idea.
  • Choose the proper gloves: Ride with insulated full-finger gloves. Consider adding a glove liner.
  • Consider electric riding gear: Wear this layer closest to your street clothes.
  • Pack extra cold-weather gear: The extra warmth will be welcome if temperatures drop lower than expected.
  • Pull out the raingear: If you need an extra layer, try adding your raingear on top to block the wind.

If you have a co-rider, they need the same level of warm gear. As the rider, it’s your responsibility to make sure they’re warm, too. And don’t forget to make sure your insurance protects them. Check out Dairyland’s Guest Passenger coverage and the other motorcycle coverage options we offer.

As for planning your winter ride, consider the following:

  • Check the weather forecast before leaving
  • Eat a hot meal to fuel your body
  • Ride reasonable distances
  • Take frequent rest stops to warm up
  • Drink warm nonalcoholic beverages during rest stops

The right winter riding gear and a good ride plan will make your winter rides invigorating and safer at the same time.

Till next time, ride safe!

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