Everything Winter, Everything Bikes
There are some motorcycle enthusiasts that choose to hang up their hats come winter.
Others enjoy a little risk and icy roads.
Really it all depends on where you live.
In Los Angeles, you may not have to make a choice at all.
Just park your bike outside and wait for that sunny day. It will be there soon enough.
If you live on the East Coast, you may be putting a cover on her until the storm passes.
The point is, motorcycle riding goes down significantly in the fall and winter months.
You may be wondering:
Do I need to keep the same amount of motorcycle insurance in the winter as I do in the summer?
How should I maintain my bike in the colder months?
What weather is too dangerous to ride in?
Let’s try to answer these questions here, before the real rain starts to hit.
All You Need To Know About Motorcycle Insurance
All you need to know about motorcycle insurance is that it is always better to be over insured than under insured.
Having said that, you can lower your insurance costs in the winter if you are not riding.
There is seasonal insurance where you can sign up for the season in which you will be riding.
Some states only have weather that permits riding in a couple seasons.
You won’t want to be out on the icy road so why pay for it?
There are a couple thoughts on this.
Let’s say that you drop your cheap motorcycle insurance for the winter months.
But one day it is nice weather and you decide to hop on, not realizing you aren’t insured.
Maybe it slips your mind, or maybe you think that one short ride can’t do you any harm.
To make the assumption that you will not be riding at all during the winter and therefore want to drop your insurance, you should store your bike.
That’s right, hang it up for the winter. Put her in storage so that you aren’t tempted to go for a spin.
Trust me, we have all been there.
You want to ride your bike.
It is so pretty just sitting there.
But wait, you can’t legally ride it in any state without the proper insurance.
What is the correct amount of insurance to have in the winter?
If anything, you should just lower your insurance to the minimum coverage required in your state.
If you have a loan out on your bike you cannot do this. Most banks require full coverage.
But, if your bike is paid in full, than for the 6 months of less-than-perfect weather, you can drop down to minimum coverage.
This is not an ideal situation, but if you want to save some money over the holiday season, this might be one way.
What is the minimum amount of coverage for a motorcycle?
Every state is a little different but most states just require liability insurance.
For example in the state of California the minimum Limits are:
- Bodily Injury Liability Limits: $30,000 per occurrence/ $15,000 per person
- Property Damage Liability Limits: $5,000 per occurrence
Basically you must have property damage and bodily injury protection so that if you hit another person or motorist, they will be covered for their costs.
This does leave you vulnerable. You will have zero coverage for you or your own bike.
You need Collision and Comprehensive coverage for this.
Bottom line is that if you want to save money in the winter, drop your insurance down to the minimum coverage.
If you do this, you will be at a higher risk when riding.
What To Wear In Winter
There are a ton of products out there to choose from when it comes to dressing for winter riding. You need to know your body and your bike.
If you do not feel comfortable riding in bulky clothes or you cannot operate your motorcycle properly, then try something else.
Safety is your number one priority. Especially in winter. Now, most of the time motorcycle gear is already pretty warm.
You have your long sleeve protective gear, your helmet and gloves. This should keep you pretty toasty.
But there are some attire which come in handy for those cold winter days.
Here are a list of some of the best winter riding gear to choose from:
- A Neck Gaiter will keep your neck warm. This is one part of your body that can be left exposed when riding. We all know that wind can be a huge factor for making us cold out on a bike. This cloth material that wraps around your neck will help lock in heat but not make you sweaty.
- Alpinestars Tech ST GORE-TEX Jacket is a great option that won’t weigh you down. This winter performance top is basically weather proof. It seals you up and keeps you warm while repelling the rain. This particular jacket runs about $900.
- Schuberth C3 PRO is the best flip-up helmet for winter. When you want a little air, or you need to flip open your visor for vision, this helmet makes it easy. It is also quite affordable at around $800. It is very durable and is great for getting a little oxygen while riding.
- Dainese Carroarmato Gore-Tex Boots are the best winter riding boots. They not only look great but are very durable and will last forever. Most importantly they keep your feet dry! Nylon inserts protect your angles and shins. These work as a protective gear that also keeps your warm and dry when out for a run.
- Gloves are a very important part of riding in the winter. How can you operate your motorcycle with freezing hands? Well, the other half to that story are the hand guards you choose to place on your bike. Barkbusters makes a great handlebar which gives a lot of wind protection. Don’t skimp on this product because there is no glove that keeps out all of the cold!
The Top Bikes For Winter Riding
You probably already love your motorcycle, but what if you could choose the ultimate winter riding machine?
Let’s take a look at some of the better bikes for winter rides.
This is the ultimate winter bike. Heated grips come standard on this bike. It has a large screen, and ABS traction control. It has large waterproof saddle bags as well as a wide seat for comfort. It is soft yet powerful a 1322 cc engine. Kawasaki is a reliable bike with a decent price tag. You can find these great motorcycles from around $5,000- $8,000.
The Honda Blackbird just looks like a winter bike. It also looks like something Batman may have ridden. Super versatile and very reliable. Honda knows how to make a bike. It has a liquid-cooled four stroke engine. It is also very comfortable to ride and lightweight so you can easily manage it in any weather. Most people choose Honda products because they rarely need maintenance. But you may pay a little more. These bikes are around $10,000 new!
These Kawasaki Bandit comes in all sizes from a 248 cc water-cooled engine to a 1255cc engine. These bikes have been re-tuned for more torque and stability. The 1250 has a balance shaft to help reduce vibrations, making it a smooth ride and great for the winter. A new Kawasaki Bandit is around $7,500.
Winter is coming and you still want to ride your bike.
Or, perhaps you want to clean it up, cover it and put it in storage for a few months.
Either way, here are some ideas on how winterize your bike.
Storing your bike…
Storing your bike for winter may be just the thing you need. You are busy during the holidays and want to make sure you keep your bike safe and secure.
Before you lock it up for a few months you may want to take a look at the structure and condition of your motorcycle.
- First, you should change the oil. Check that everything in the engine looks good and is running smoothly. This will ensure that when you pull it out in the spring, your bike is ready to go!
- Wash your bike thoroughly. Get some sponge and soap and go to town. You will want all of those little hard-to-reach parts cleaned as well.
- Fill up your motorcycle will gas. Fill it to the top. An empty has tank with untreated gas could lead to issues with your bike as it sits. Use a gas stabilizing chemical when adding fuel.
- Make sure you cover the mufflers. You can do this by putting plastic bags over the mufflers and tying them secure with a rubber band. They also sell motorcycle exhaust plugs.
- Remove your bikes battery. Take the battery and connect it to a charger. This trickle charger will help your battery remain functional throughout the winter months and will be ready to install again in spring.
- Cover your bike with a bike cover. This will help to keep your bike clean and keep moisture from settling on it.
- You may want to consider going into wherever you are storing your bike and turn it on about once a month. Let it run for a while. This is good for the bike and it’s engine.
Riding Your Bike…
If you plan to continue riding your motorcycle in the winter months you may want to give it some extra needed attention.
Here are some great tips on how to properly maintain your bike in the winter.
- Service your bike and give it a thorough oil change. Even if it seems like you just did this recently, you will want to check everything out and make sure your bike is running as it should.
- If your bike is water-cooled, check the anti-freeze. If you don’t know how to check it then just be safe and replace it altogether.
- Check the battery and if it is old, you may want to replace it. Cold weather is harsher on everything, even a battery. Clean the battery terminals and make sure they are working properly.
- Check all of your electrics and double check your exposed wiring. If anything looks frayed or unkept, replace it or fix it. Make sure all of your lights and blinkers are working well. This also means your license plate lights.
- In the evenings when you are not riding, charge your bike up to a trickle charger. This will help stabilize the battery and make sure your bike stays running well all winter.
- Wash your bike, clean away any excess grime. Once it dries, seal up any areas you see need it. Make sure that you check for rust and build up on the underside of your motorcycle.
- Tires are a very important feature on any bike. Especially in winter, you will want to ensure that your tread is at least 1/8 inch. If you feel uneasy at all with your tires, replace them. You must also check the pressure in your tires. Cold air will no doubt reduce the tire pressure.
When riding in the winter months…
Here are a few tips you should consider when riding in the winter months.
- Practice riding in your bulky winter clothing while the ground is still dry. If something feels wrong, or you have trouble maneuvering your bike, switch clothing. There is nothing worse than not feeling good about your ride and struggling for control.
- Carry wipes or “pull-offs” on your goggles when riding in the winter. The splashing from the other cars may leave you with marks and can block your vision.
- Practice your braking and know your bike. Practice braking hard. If you can, try and set up some scenarios where you can swerve and regain control. Do this in a safe and isolated setting. Slippery or icy roads will most definitely affect your ability to brake.
- Be more aware in the winter. Just look around more and notice your surroundings. Even drivers have a harder time driving their cars in winter. remember that when you are out on the road.
- You may want to consider bringing a spare change of clothes. If you have saddle bags on your bike, bring dry clothes. You will most likely get wet at some point during your winter riding journey.
For those of us who are die-hard biking enthusiasts, putting up our bikes for the winter seems like torture.
Whether it is attaining the necessary cheap motorcycle insurance you will need for winter. Or, if you place on buying some new winter gear, it can get expensive.
Know your own limits as well as your motorcycles. Don’t try and be hero out there. Especially in the winter.
Have the proper gear. Do the proper maintenance. Go above and beyond if need be.
Check your tires and make sure your brakes are working better than ever.
Riding in winter is risky business. Take it seriously by following the steps listed above.
You and those who love you will be happy you did.