Prepare for cold weather motorcycling – On Balance
Burr! Old Mercury suddenly dropped off the rider’s ladder of happiness and joy, didn’t it? Now what?
Due to the relative calm and the sudden and conspicuous absence of the other runners, I would venture to guess that the indoor games won the draw for many of us. Better get down stores quickly as bike covers, smart chargers, and storage wax are flying off the shelves.
But come on. It is Canada after all. We have a reputation for playing in the cold. And it’s not so cold or so dark yet.
So, let’s review the fall pre-trip and see what will keep us rolling in our safe and happy place.
There are issues ahead that have better answers than ever before, even for those of us who are not by nature polar divers.
First of all, take off the cover of this bike and give it a good look. As things get cooler they also get messier, so some friction is needed, as well as some new lubrication.
Now it’s time for an oil change. Filters need to be changed and all friction points like cables, chains and control pivots contain more dust and sand than the specified lubricants they should have. There are a few happy hours of tinkering with the tunes. A clean, polished bike always performs better too, they say.
All shiny and smooth again? Great! Except, maybe, where it’s about the round rubber bits. At this time of year, and in the future, we really don’t want to take any chances with tires that are way past their best. There’s a lot of rolling ahead and it doesn’t have to be a crash if we make sure we have tires that can give good grip in cold and wet conditions.
That old joke about winter tires for your bike? Hahaha. It’s just that … old man. Now we have options. There are many tires that have softer compounds and better tread designs than summer skins, so it’s worth talking to your preferred tire sales representative. Whether it’s a person or a website, the information is there for you to find. Retail Therapy You Can Actually Streamline, What Do You Think?
Keep in mind that there will be some nice people in uniform by the side of the road waiting to verify that you have done this part of your homework (by October 1) before heading out for a ride on the Richter. , Anarchist, Eagle (passes) or any other begging pass to be ridden the next sunny day.
On this subject, there are certainly less nowadays. The sun, or even daylight, I mean. And for bikers, as I mentioned before, crash reports make it clear that the dark is not our friend. So, opponents notwithstanding, this would be a great time to determine if some lighting upgrades are in order. Here are your justifications:
• In cold and wet weather, we need longer distances for safe stops and evasive maneuvers. So we need lights that illuminate the road further than the three candle mood lighting that comes with the bike. Better high beam and low beam and good quality aftermarket spotlights can make all the difference to your comfort and safety.
• In the cold and wet, we need lights that don’t reflect rain or other atmospheric atrocities that we may encounter so badly. So the fog lights, mounted lower than the headlight, give us a fighting chance when combined with our best safety tactic – slowing down.
• The bears might be heading around nap time, but the rest of the many and varied creatures that like to party on the road just as we cross a hill still live up to their towers. And they can be much, much harder to spot in the warm glow of a 10-year-old SAE nightlight.
• There are libraries full of research articles that highlight the merits of better visibility of motorcycles, especially in “difficult” lighting conditions. More and better, the lights are the gold standard of recommendations on this. And then there are the high visibility jackets and vests. It must be said.
• Regarding libraries, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (iihs.org) has provided excellent research into the condition of most automotive headlights for years. So consider this, we only have one light (on motorcycles) and the institute hasn’t taken the time to test them.
So where are we? The bike is tuned, lubricated and polished to perfection. The tires are good and grippy. Lights open up new perspectives. Hot and fuzzy again?
No, there is always the wind and the rain to deal with, which is why cycling is losing its appeal (at this time of year, for a lot of people long before hockey starts and why it gets dangerous.
This is where your bike and gear can really do wonders – all heated and great weather resistant top layers. Wow!
Heated grips and vests are so easy to organize and so effective at keeping hypothermia at bay, your antlers can well and truly stop shaking.
Be cool with the cool, and keep going.