Spring still feels like a million miles away as we ride our motorbikes in these cold, wet, and sometimes freezing, conditions. It’s crucial that we take extra care of our bikes during the winter to help them run smoothly and without any issues. IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, Richard Gladman, advises on the following tips to help maintain your bike:
- Get your motorcycle serviced properly. Leaving your bike in the cold can cause problems such as struggling to start it, and getting your motorcycle correctly serviced can help prevent issues over the winter period.
- Make sure your tyres are legal. For a bike over 50cc, the legal minimum tread depth is 1mm across three quarters of the width of the tread pattern, with visible tread on the remaining quarter. For a bike under 50cc, the original tread pattern must be clearly visible. Tyres close to the legal limit will not disperse water as well as a tyre with a deeper tread.
- Be sure that your bike’s chain drive has been adjusted correctly. For this, you will need to check the manufacturer’s specifications. Keep the chain well lubricated and make sure you reapply chain lube after washing your bike.
- Remember to clean off road salt after your ride, whether this is a 10 minute journey or a long bike ride in the countryside. To avoid corrosion, let the bike cool down and then hose off with clean water. Apply a purpose-made protection spray whilst the bike is clean and damp as this will help to protect it. When applying, safeguard the brake discs, calipers and tyres. Covering the cold discs with cling film will shield them from the spray.
- If you have fitted aftermarket heated grips, make sure they are either switched off via the ignition or that you disable them once you are off your bike as a flat battery will definitely spoil your day. On that note, a trickle charger connected when your bike is not being used will help prevent battery problems.
- When you’re riding your motorcycle, it’s important to keep warm. If your clothing allows you to get cold, then this can be a huge distraction as you will be focusing on how the weather is making you feel rather than concentrating on the road ahead. Your kit needs to be warm but still needs to allow you to be mobile. Thin layers will work best and you can adjust as the temperature changes.
- Make sure your vision is clear. Pinlock inserts prevents fogging in the visor and these are normally already installed into your helmet by the manufacturer. To add to this, you can purchase a breath guard which can help keep the visor clear. And remember to always clean your visor to make your journey an easy ride. In the absence of an insert, applying washing up liquid on the inside of the visor and polishing off will help.
- During bad weather conditions, allow yourself much more space for braking. The limited contact patch of your tyres means they are likely to lose grip well before those of the car travelling in front of you. If there is snow or ice on the ground, avoid riding your bike and travel by public transport or car instead.
Richard says “Remember that motorcycling should be fun, and I find there is little satisfaction in riding in freezing conditions. A quick blast on a sunny winters morning may well bring a smile to your face but a freezing cold trip with a constant fear of doom on every roundabout is not what motorcycling is about. Wrap up warm and enjoy when you can but above all stay safe.”
Notes to editors:
1. Richard Gladman is IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards.
2. IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.
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