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7 Motorcycle Safety Tips for Canadian Winters

November 26, 2020

7 Motorcycle Safety Tips for Canadian Winters

Winter is the time when most people would put their motorcycles into hibernation, especially in Canada — and why wouldn’t you? Canadian winters can be quite severe, with temperatures dropping as much as -14°C on average in some cities. Chilly winds, unexpected precipitation, and thunderstorms can also accost those on the road, making driving difficult. Furthermore, icy roads don’t have adequate traction, which can result in road accidents. All these factors combined make a winter ride on a motorcycle unsafe for average citizens and professional drivers alike.

However, for many, avoiding being on the road during the winter is not an option.

If you need to ride your motorcycle in the snow and subzero temperatures (whether on your way to work or the grocery store), you need to take certain precautions. To help you get to your destination safely, here are some useful motorcycle riding tips for Canadian winters.

Motorcycle Safety Tips for Winter Driving

Make preparations for the winter drive

Winter bike riding involves exercising caution and taking preventive measures to ensure that you stay safe on the road. By following these safety tips, you will be able to minimize risks brought about by dangerous road conditions and inclement weather.

1.Wear Winter-Appropriate Riding Gear

Wear the right protective gear

Keeping yourself warm while driving is absolutely necessary, especially when you’re constantly being exposed to freezing temperatures and icy winds. When the body becomes affected by the cold, it can lead to several conditions that can cause motorcyclists to lose focus and endanger themselves as well as other drivers:

  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Slow reaction times
  • Memory loss
  • Low energy
  • Stiff and sore joints

Wearing the right gear will not only prevent these conditions but it will also ensure a safe and comfortable motorcycle ride through the snow.

Here are essential winter gear for motorcyclists:

  • Base Layers

Wearing thick and heavy clothing is ill-advised since it does not have the ability to retain heat and does not provide adequate protection from severe temperatures. Motorcycle base layers, on the other hand, are specifically designed to recycle and retain heat, which keeps you feeling warm and toasty during a ride.

Other advantages of motorcycle base layers include:

    • The compression fit helps stabilize muscles to help reduce fatigue.
    • Made of thin lightweight materials that can easily be worn under regular clothing.
    • They can easily wick away moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable.
    • Base layers draw away sweat from the skin and provide an added layer of windproofing which helps prevent shivers.
  • Winter Riding Boots

Unlike regular riding boots, these have a weather-proof lining that protects your feet from frigid temperatures and precipitation. Furthermore, they’re also durable enough to withstand impacts and abrasions.

  • Heated Riding Gloves

Freezing temperatures can easily result in cold fingers which can cause you to lose control over your motorcycle. This can develop into frostbite in a matter of minutes, which can cause permanent damage to muscles, skin and bones.

To avoid this, it is highly recommended that you wear heated riding gloves. Unlike regular gloves, these are equipped with battery-powered heating mechanisms and special materials in the lining that help keep your hands and fingers warm. In addition, they also provide protection for impact areas such as your knuckles and they also have a better grip on slippery surfaces.

  • Cold Weather Helmets

Helmets are extremely important safety gear for motorcyclists and they can’t do without them. However, regular helmets aren’t designed to handle harsh winter conditions and the visors tend to fog or get frosted, which can result in poor or hampered visibility.

Cold weather helmets are better for the Canadian winters. These helmets are usually equipped with electrically heated visors and breath boxes which eliminate fog or frosting and handle low-temperature conditions.

  • Helmet Liners

Helmet liners work hand in hand with helmets. They shield the exposed skin around your neck from the cold and keeps that area warm.

  • Cold Weather Riding Jackets and Pants

Similar to other winter riding gear, cold weather riding jackets and pants are designed to withstand harsh winter conditions and the elements while keeping your body warm and dry. Both of these riding gears also offer other features (both for comfort and safety) that distinguish them from regular versions:

    • Both jackets and pants are waterproof, granting you protection from heavy downpours.
    • Some models are equipped with extra padding and armour in impact-prone areas, like the shoulders, elbows, back, and knees.
    • They’re both extremely flexible and lightweight.
  • Cold Weather Full Riding Suits

This is basically a combination of the cold weather jacket and the pants. It provides full-body protection from the elements while offering the same comfort and features as the 2-piece versions.

2.Make Sure Your Motorcycle Is Fully Equipped for Winter

Your motorcycle needs to be sufficiently prepared to handle the treacherous terrain. Aside from regular maintenance, there are other safety measures that you should consider before taking your bike out on the road:

  • Get a Fresh Batch of Antifreeze

Modern vehicles depend on liquid cooling to keep their engines from overheating, the same goes for motorcycles. However, the water in the radiators will freeze once temperatures drop.

This can be avoided by adding antifreeze to keep water from solidifying. As part of routine maintenance, this is typically changed once a year. However, as a precautionary measure, make sure your radiator has a fresh batch of anti-freeze before you ride out in the cold.

  • Check the Tire Quality and Pressure

One of the worst things that can happen to any vehicle during winter drives is losing road traction and slipping due to inadequate tire pressure. Numerous accidents and injuries have happened because drivers neglected this critical factor. As a responsible motorcyclist, make it a habit to check your tires regularly before and after you drive.

The first thing you should check is thread quality. Tires with worn-out threads don’t do well because they barely have any grip left and are made worse by the slippery, icy surface. Most people recommend using a tire with at least 50% thread life, but the safer option would be to get a new set; or better yet, get motorcycle snow tires.

Tire pressure is the next thing to watch out for. Cold temperatures cause air pressure to drop,so this means both tires will lose a few PSI. So make sure to check your tires’ PSI from time to time while on the road using a pressure gauge and have them inflated according to the optimal PSI rating set by the manufacturer.

  • Equip Motorcycle Winter Mods

Equip your motorcycle with modifications that help protect against the elements and impacts such as windscreens, wind guards for your hands, and crash bars. In addition, replace your normal hand grips with heated ones and adventure-style riding pegs to provide optimal grip for your boots.

3.Stay Away From Salts on the Road

Treat road salts like ice and stay away

Salt is not only corrosive to your motorcycle’s metal parts, but it also makes your tires lose traction. If you happen to accidentally run a salted road, there’s a high chance your vehicle will slip.

Treat salt like ice; if you see them on the tarmac, especially in urban areas, slow down — or better yet, stay far away.

4.Drive Slowly

In connection with observing braking distance, you must exercise caution while driving. Driving at unsafe speeds makes it difficult for your vehicle to brake on time and can cause you to lose control of your motorcycle.

Keep your speeds at a minimum to reduce the chances of accidents and physical injury.

5.Pay Attention to Weather Forecasts

Always check the news or applications for weather forecasts. Roads become extremely slippery when the snow starts to fall, and this can potentially lead to accidents.

If there’s a great chance of snow, stay at home. If you need to go riding, make sure you are well-prepared.

6.Avoid Wearing Dark Clothing

Visibility is extremely low during the winter season, so you have to do everything that you can to compensate. Wearing bright clothing or riding gear is extremely useful in this regard. They increase the chances of other drivers noticing you while driving, especially during evenings.

7.Check the Braking Distance

Braking can be quite difficult during the winter since tires don’t have much grip on the road. Because of this, short-distance braking may lead to collisions.

As a precaution, increase the braking distance between your motorcycle and the vehicle in front of you.

Winter isn’t the best time for motorcycles. However, by following these safety tips, you will be able to stay safe and warm while on the road. Exercising common sense, adequate preparation, and some changes in your riding style can keep you well out of harm’s way.

However, if in spite of all the precautionary measures you’ve taken, you end up in a collision or vehicular accident, call Michelle Linka Law. We offer you assistance in filing your accident benefit claims so you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (416) 477-7288.

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