Your Winter Motorcycle Guide to Gear and Performance

Over 1.5 million Americans are currently the proud owner of at least one motorcycle. 

Whether you’ve been riding for many years, or if you’ve only recently purchased your first-ever motorcycle, we know you want to do everything possible to protect your investment. 

Taking care of your motorcycle in the warmer months isn’t too complicated, but managing your motorcycle in winter is a different story. You have to worry about snow, sleet, freezing temperatures, and even how salt on the road could damage your tires. 

To help you make it through, we’ve created this ultimate winter motorcycle guide. 

In it, we’ll fill you in on exactly how to keep your motorcycle in tip-top shape as the temperature continues to drop. 

How to Ride a Motorcycle in Winter

First up, let’s make sure you’re clear on how to stay safe when riding your motorcycle in the winter months. 

Though it might surprise you to learn that motorcycle accidents are actually more common in the summer than the winter, you still need to take care to keep yourself and others safe on winter roads. 

Above all else, slow down.

It’s not just about your safety. Sudden braking and swerving to avoid ice or fallen branches can seriously wear down your gears and tires. Also, remember that you’ll have far less traction in the winter because your tires aren’t able to hold onto heat for long periods of time. 

In addition to slowing down, this means you’ll have to check your tire pressure far more often than you do in the summer. 

Make sure you avoid riding a motorcycle in snow whenever possible. Instead of trying to “make it home,” park your bike until the snow stops and, if needed, call a friend to pick you up.

Finally, make sure you have on the right motorcycle winter gear to both keep you safe and prevent you from being absolutely miserable when riding. 

Check out this list of the best winter motorcycle gloves, always grab a windproof and waterproof riding jacket, and opt for a full-face helmet. Use heated grips, handguards, and even wind guards to keep winter weather at bay.

Base layers should include thermal pants and shirts, preferably with moisture-wicking capabilities. Above all, wear a reflective vest so cars can see you with ease.

Maintenance Tips for Winter Riding

We suggest having your bike professionally inspected and serviced at the start and end of every winter season.

Remember the golden rule, too:

When in doubt, call a professional. Also, make sure you always have a copy of your preferred motorcycle repair manuals on hand or look up your manufacturer’s manual online. 

Still, there are a few motorcycle maintenance steps you can manage on your own. Let’s take a look at them now. 

Wash Your Bike

Salt, snow, twigs, and leaves can seriously mess up your bike in the winter.

In the winter, you should aim to wash your bike thoroughly at least once a week and do a visual inspection/quick rinse after every ride. To keep rust at bay, use a lubricant like WD-0 on your gears (never on the footpegs or gears.) 

Make sure you also clean off your lights and lubricate your pedals, brakes, and throttle control. 

Whenever possible, keep your motorcycle stored indoors throughout the winter. 

Oil and Filter Health

Before winter truly hits, you need to invest in high-quality engine oil and completely change out the filter. 

his will help to prevent combustion gunk from gathering in your engine and seriously damaging your bike. (Remember that, during the colder months, there isn’t enough engine heat to evaporate this junk, so it easily sneaks into the engine oil.) 

You’ll likely need to change your oil and filter about 2-3 times during the winter months for best results. 

When it comes to your fuel itself, remember that ethanol in the fuel will absorb much more water than in the summer. This means that, instead of exiting out the exhaust pipe, this moisture will build up in your nozzles and gears. 

If you can, add some gas preservative to your tank each time you fill it up. 

Take Care of Your Tires

You must check your pressure after every ride in the winter because you can lose tread and traction much faster in the colder months. 

If possible, buy specific tires for winter and always have a puncture repair kit on hand. 

In addition to checking the pressure, make sure you also check the overall tread depth. You should never ride unless you have a minimum of 50% tread depth left. 

Be Prepared

Even the most experienced motorcycle riders have to deal with an accident in the winter or frozen gears that don’t allow them to move. 

The last thing you want is to be stranded without knowing who to call for help — and have to wait by the roadside in frigid weather. 

Instead, make a list of local towing services and motorcycle repair shops in your area, and store their numbers in your phone. You may also want to check out organizations like the American Motorcycle Association.

These organizations usually provide complimentary motorcycle-specific towing programs and services with an annual membership.

Need More Tips in Addition to This Winter Motorcycle Guide?

We hope that this winter motorcycle guide has you feeling much better prepared when it comes to keeping your bike in great shape when the temperature drops. 

Above all, winter riding is about common sense. 

If it’s sleeting, snowing, or if there are inches of snow on the ground already, take the car or just stay home. 

Curious about some of the best motorcycle routes to explore in the winter? 

Want to learn more about how to handle basic motorcycle repairs like patching your tires or replacing a light on your own? 

Need to improve your riding skills? 

Make sure you bookmark our blog for access to all the maintenance and riding tips you need throughout the year.

Author: Brandon Park