Motorcycling: 12 tips for cold weather riding on the West Coast

Britt Santowski gives riders some helpful information for year-round riding, as summer creeps to an end and Canadians highways stay tasty.

Throttle therapy specialist

As the days grow shorter and the shadows creep in around us sooner, many riders will be putting away their motorcycles for the season.

Way back, when my knees were younger and my endurance stronger, I used to ride year round. For those of you who still have the knees and the knack, here are a few helpful hints for winter riding on the West Coast.

Never ride in the snow

That’s just dumb, if you’re on a two-wheeled motorcycle. A motorcycle is a single-track vehicle. Meaning that if you hit a patch of packed snow, your upright advantage will be all-too-quickly modified. And you won’t have a say in the matter.

Get heated gear

A heated vest is like a hug from the sun, even on the coldest, wettest day. The (ancient) one I have only has two setting: plugged in, or unplugged. Having experience with this one, I’d recommend you look into buying one with a switch and a range of settings.

Heated equipment

If you’re serious about riding year round, you might consider installing heated grips and a heated seat. Hot paws and snug buns. I didn’t have any of that when I was riding year round a thousand years ago. I had an office with a heater. I’d close the door and melt for three hours. Heated equipment would take the edge off.

Winter riding gloves

Get them. Some have a suede top on the index finger. When I first got mine, I thought to myself, “What a handy-dandy visor wiper.” It only took until my first runny riding nose to realize what this soft cover is really for. After which you’ll never use it on your visor again. It smears.

Slick silk

Invest in a pair of silk socks and gloves to wear as lining, underneath your regular socks and gloves. Silk acts as an excellent insulator for heat.

Foot gear

Make sure it’s water proof. Pack plastic bags if you must. I once rode quite stylishly through Newfoundland with grocery bags sticking out of my boot tops. Yes, I rustled in the breeze, but hey, I still have all my toes.

Head glove

It’s called a balaclava, and it makes you look like your about to commit a criminal act. Wear one under your helmet.

Stay hydrated

Hot beverages are nice. AND they force you off your bike periodically so you can, um, see a man about a horse. Frequently.

Be aware of black ice

This is a tough one, because black ice is essentially invisible. Also, don’t fall under the misconception that black ice only happens in below-zero temperatures. What matters is not the temperature of the air, but the temperature of the road. Well-travelled roads are often warmed up by previous travellers. Freezing rain and an overnight frost are good indicators of considering another mode of transportation. If at all possible, ride behind another vehicle, in their tire tracks. Let them discover the black ice for you.

Be extremely cautious of bridges

Bridges are the first places to freeze. Double that if the bridge is in the shade. When in doubt, turn around and go back from whence you came.

Make the weather forecast your new religion (if you haven’t already as a rider).

Be seen

The sun drops far too early, and the winters here are grey and dark. Wear retro-reflective gear.

Bring a change of clothes

Should you arrive at your destination wet, you’ll be thankful you can ride home dry.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The long road to recovery will have a few bumps

Some things will never be the same after the COVID-19 pandemic, local experts say

Sooke council approves new funding for chamber of commerce

A $16,000 service agreement to be created

Sooke council delays vote on Whiffin Spit memorial wall

Sooke district council has again delayed a decision to erect a memorial… Continue reading

Peninsula farm stands open for business with COVID-19 restrictions

Growers hopeful shoppers will support local farms

Income tax deadline looming

2019 individual tax returns are due June 1, June 15 for self-employed individuals

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Asian giant “murder hornets” found in Langley, expanding range

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Most Read