We’ve actually had quite a mild winter so far this year with temperatures above the seasonal norm and sunshine much higher. That is due to change according to the met office so we thought we’d help by offering some common sense advice as to how you can stay warm and safe whilst we wait for the spring and the warmer weather.
That said we’d always recommend checking out the weather forecast and sensibly leaving the bike at home if there is a chance of ice. No matter how good you are once you hit the slippery stuff there’s a pretty good chance you’re going down.
But with the right kit, a liberal dose of common sense, and some thought to your riding style, you can ride safely in all but the worst that the winter has to offer.
Stay Warm – obvious we know but being cold can have a dramatic effect on your ability to make quick rational decisions and can as a result be as dangerous as drink driving in some cases. Investing in some decent winter riding gear will make a huge difference to your safely and enjoyment too even on short rides.
These days decent man made materials offer both warmth and waterproofing without breaking the bank. Probably the most important thing is hands and feet. Make sure you have a really good pair of winter gloves or you could invest in some handle bar muffs – they may not look cool but who cares when you’re toasty and warm. You may also want to carry a spare pair of gloves in case your main pair get waterlogged – it’s always nice to slip on a dry pair even it is 10 minutes from home. And feet – don’t neglect them – a decent pair of socks at the very least will stop your toes from freezing and allow you to feel the road better which is important.
Talking of feeling the road you really should, more than ever, respect the winter roads. From black ice, potholes and leaves to just cold and wet, winter roads throw up so many more challenges than the summer ones. So even more than just riding in the wet take it easy – smooth throttle and smooth brakes is the key here. You may even want to think about fitting winter tyres – a bit of a luxury but your sticky race rubber will often not get up to temperature so will be useless – decent winter tyres warm up even in cold weather and offer loads more grip as a result.
You should consider other road users too – and how the cold affects them. Motorists who are struggling to see though misted windows will have an even harder job spotting you! So wear something bright – a high vis waistcoat maybe and keep an extra careful watch out at junctions and when overtaking. And signal earlier than you might otherwise – give them plenty of notice as to what you are intending to do.
Finally check your bike too. Make sure lights all work, brakes are working smoothly and that tyres are at the right pressure.
Unless the weather really turns bad there’s nothing stopping you riding just be alert and ride smooth, after all it beats public transport or being stuck in your car.
Check out the brands in our clothing section if you need some winter gear!