Winter riding can be gruelling on both you and your bike with cold, wet weather and mucky conditions to contend with. A poorly maintained bike can increase the risk of a motorbike accident, but preparation is key – here are our top tips on how to get your bike ready for the winter.
1. Make sure your bike is mechanically sound
Breaking down is never fun, but you'll really want to minimise the risk of getting stranded because a breakdown during the winter months. This is why it's worth giving your bike a thorough once over before winter, checking the condition of the brakes and cables and looking for any signs of corrosion. If you discover that something's broken, then get it fixed.
Consider treating your bike to a full service before the temperatures drop too, including an oil and filter change. If your bike uses water in the cooling system then also make sure there's adequate antifreeze in there.
2. Make sure your bike starts
It's a well-known fact that freezing conditions and batteries do not get along. If your motorbike battery is on its last legs then don't wait until it completely fails you to replace it.
There are steps that you can take to reduce the effect of winter weather on your battery. These include cleaning and protecting the battery terminals and using a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up while your bike's not in use. Remember that if you use extra lighting and heated clothing during the winter months, this will be an additional drain on your battery so you'll want to make sure it's kept topped up.
3. Make sure your bike is electronically sound
Check that any exposed cables are in good condition and make sure that all of your lights are working properly (including your instrument light). If cables are looking a little worse for wear then get these replaced. Make sure that you're seen and that you can see clearly – if your lights don't look like they're at their full potential then give them a clean and replace the bulbs if required.
It's worth doing a quick check of your lights every time you set off on your bike over the winter, just to be extra vigilant.
Carry some spare bulbs and fuses with you if you have a safe space to store these, to avoid getting caught out while you're riding. If you can't keep these anywhere on your bike then you'll definitely want to make sure you've got some at home. You could even keep a couple of spares at work if you're mainly going to be using your bike for commuting.
4. Make sure your bike tyres are in good condition
You'll be relying on the performance of your tyres more than ever in wet and icy winter conditions. Check them over for signs of wear, making sure that the tread is deep and that there's no damage. You might even want to get some winter tyres fitted so that you have that extra grip on slippery roads, then you can swap these back over to summer tyres in the spring.
Make sure that you check your tyre pressure regularly throughout the winter so that your tyres are at peak performance for the conditions. Remember, there's a greater chance of potholes and other road defects appearing over the winter. Low tyre pressure could easily result in a puncture if you hit a pothole.
5. Make sure your bike is free from dirt and grime
If you're riding over the winter then it's inevitable that you and your bike will get coated in grime that's kicked up from the road surface. Road spray can cause damage to your bike, as it's likely to contain salt, oil, dirt and water. This concoction can wreak havoc on your bike, causing corrosion and causing moving parts to seize up.
At the start of the winter season, give your bike a deep clean all over to remove any existing dirt. You can then protect it from salt, dirt and other damaging substances by using a product that's designed to protect and seal your bike. This is an effective way of reducing wear and tear on your bike over the winter months.
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