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

Vanier student Tristan Rendell is helping to organize the discussion on COVID-19 for young people. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Students to talk COVID on Zoom Nov. 4

Young people 12-29 can sign up for virtual discussion

Julia Strobach. File Photo
Nearing seventh anniversary, Valley RCMP continue search for Julia Strobach

“We know that someone has information that will help us locate her.”

Comox author Loraine Hartley, with a few copies of her debut novel, “My Delightfully Dysfunctional Family.” Photo supplied
Comox author pens novel about life in a blended family

Generally speaking, authors write their books, then determine a title. But not… Continue reading

Police reported more than 2.2 million Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic offences) in 2019 within Canada- 164,784 more than in 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Crime Severity Index on the rise with the Valley, Canada: StatsCan

There were 1,450 actual incidents in the Comox Valley in 2019

Joyce Jay enjoys a moment with Georgia, her son Ed’s dog, at her Comox home. Joyce is 103 years old. Scott Stanfield photo
Comox centenarian recalls wartime Britain, moving to Canada

Joyce Jay isn’t one to shy away from adventure. She wanted to… Continue reading

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

It’s volleyball season at schools in the Comox Valley, in a cohorted environment. Tournament play or matches between schools are not happening during COVID. File photo
Comox Valley Schools re-opens sports at practice level

Comox Valley Schools has re-opened sports at a practice level, but as… Continue reading

Most Read