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

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.

Just Posted

Co-creatorsAdrianna Hatton and Malcolm McKenzie stand next to the little free library revealed Sunday at 9710 First St. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Literary crowd helps opens little free library in Sidney

Located at 9710 First St., the book sharing box features original art and reclaimed wood

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read