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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Took my first "below freezing" ride. Temps were about 25, lord knows what the wind chill was. Cars were getting sheets of ice frozen on them. I used my summer gear with no additional layering and my full helmet. Bike was my GS850G (no fairings or windscreen). Things I learned:

1) My summer gear (which isn't vented, so I overheat on hot days) performs way better than I expected in the cold. I rode for a little over an hour and my body didn't start feeling cold until I arrived home. And even then I didn't feel super cold. It seems like preventing wind from penetrating my gear was more important than how thick that gear was.

2) The weak spot in my gear were with my gloves. My hands felt cold after five minutes and felt frozen after ten. I found that cupping my hands next to the engine to warmed them up super quickly. Because I was an hour from home and it was midnight, there really weren't places to stop and warm up. I took the route with the most amount of lights home and simply warmed up my hands on every red light. It worked out pretty well.

3) Breathing made my helmet's visor fog up. I had a some cloth in my purse and shoved it into my helmet in front of my nose/mouth, that resolved that issue.

4) My bike's mirrors became mostly useless after five minutes. I could see headlights behind me and could judge how close they were, but they were otherwise useless. Coincidentally, the engine's radiant heat cleared the mirrors every time I stopped at a red light.

5) More recent tar strips and painted lines became like black ice. I first noticed this when changing lanes and riding over a line that was painted at the end of the summer. The bike momentarily felt floaty as I rode over a painted line. Likewise, tar used to seal pavement cracks laid in the summer also proved themselves to be quite slippery. The bike slipped on a couple of the ones that ran parallel with my path of travel. I imagine that my bike's tyres also may not be the best in cold weather as well. Of course, my GS isn't my real winter bike, so I'm not too worried about that and will take greater care to that tar until I put the bike away. If this bloody cold weather continues, that'll be sooner than later.

My takeaways:

1) I will want a mask and winter riding gloves (both purchased and shipped).

2) On colder days I'll want to add a layer or two (my hopeful winter bike with full fairings and a tall windscreen will help).

3) Like a car (but so much worse) cold weather makes your tyres perform differently and the road surface will also be more slippery.

4) I may want to invest in grip heaters for the eventual winter bike.

5) My bikes (carbureted) also run differently in the cold. In this case, I think my custom air filter is letting in too much cold air.
 

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Nice write up. It sounds like your "summer" gear isn't. You might want to invest in a set of heated gloves and jacket liner. They make a huge difference. Also, a lot of face shields have pin lock inserts available which shot alleviate the fog issue.

Be careful, cars can easily slide into you.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nice write up. It sounds like your "summer" gear isn't. You might want to invest in a set of heated gloves and jacket liner. They make a huge difference. Also, a lot of face shields have pin lock inserts available which shot alleviate the fog issue.

Be careful, cars can easily slide into you.

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Thanks for the advice!

The cold also doesn't bother me as much as it does others. My swim season in Lake Michigan starts while the water is still very cold (where you'll definitely get hypothermia if you stick around too long) and ends when the outside air has the same impact...or usually late April to early November (mid-October this year). :D

Oh, I never thought about heated gloves! That'll actually be easier than heated grips, especially since I bet whatever bike will be my winter daily probably couldn't support the heater without first converting all the bulbs to LED.
 
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Winter riding gloves are absolutely worthless below 40 degrees, UNLESS they are electrically heated.
Doesn't matter what the reviews say, doesn't matter what your paid for them, they aren't worth the packaging that came in for keeping your hands warm for an hour when riding near or below freezing.

Pinlock helmet visit is unequalled for anti fog in cold weather, get a baclava to keep face and neck warm under the helmet.
The only anti-fog visor that actually works, besides Pinlock, is the anti fog coating on scorpion helmets.

A rain coat and pants work to keep the wind off. (Cheap Frogg Togg works as well as any.)

Nothing beats electrically heated coat liner to stay toasty warm and keep the core temps up.
 

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Something that helps my hands on the Valkyrie is, the previous owner installed little windshields for the grips. I have no idea where he got them, but they attach to the mirror stems, and keep direct wind/rain from hitting my gloves.
 

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Thanks for the advice!

The cold also doesn't bother me as much as it does others. My swim season in Lake Michigan starts while the water is still very cold (where you'll definitely get hypothermia if you stick around too long) and ends when the outside air has the same impact...or usually late April to early November (mid-October this year). :D

Oh, I never thought about heated gloves! That'll actually be easier than heated grips, especially since I bet whatever bike will be my winter daily probably couldn't support the heater without first converting all the bulbs to LED.
I've swam in Lake Michigan...I came out sounding like Michael Jackson. 63 or so degrees is cold water. I grew up in the Detroit area so trips to Western Michigan were and still are nice.

Over the years I've found that heated gloves work better than heated grips but I often use both at the same time. A heated jacket liner simplifies the connections between the gloves the (dual) controller and the bike, and lessens your need for multiple layers. The liner alone is a pretty good under liner, the liner on of course negates the need for other under layers. I do a bit of traveling on my motorcycles and run into a lot of different weather. I always have a thin zip-up fleece type liner with a 3/4 type mock turtleneck collar and then my heated liner; it's good for everything....or you can just balance a space heater on your bars

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Cold weather riding definitely presents its fair share of challenges.

Electric gloves are the only way I can keep my hands warm. I've suffered with that this week riding to work. I replaced the bike battery this summer and didn't hook up the leads for the gloves. I will fix that this weekend!

Windshield makes a world of difference. Funny enough, I don't have a windshield for the bike I ride in the winter! My other bike has a windshield, but I don't ride that one much in the winter.
 

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Please allow me to dissent. But first, the first hour is usually survivable with insufficient clothing. After that is when you cool down, a lot.
Snowmobiles never used to have heated grips. So how do they survive? They certainly do not go out in 30 to 40 degree weather.
I ride all the time below 40, with no heated anything. There are plenty of gloves that will do the job. There are rain covers to go over the gloves. they also block the wind.

When folks say they are cold. The simple answer is they did not dress for it. Many get used to going from a heated house, to a heated car, to a heated work place.
Folks say it must be cold riding a bike. Next sentence is: I am looking forward to the ski season.

Some of the best cross country races were inland in BC, in October. There are mountains everywhere in BC. Start in a valley at 45, climb a big hill / mountain, where it has been snowing on top, and it is 28. Try dressing for that.

UK My new Triumph has heated grips, and a larger fairing. Rode it in the rain today. Sweet.
 

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In Norway they have a saying.....

If you are cold, wet or otherwise uncomfortable in Norway, you will surely be informed of this "national saying"

"There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes."

Every single native person you meet will feel free to dispense this advice.

In Ohio. when it is anything below sixty degrees, the state saying seems to be " Pretty cold to be riding a motorcycle!" followed by [ insert witty response from Slumlord here]
 

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I rode to work for a couple of years in all weather until the roads froze, many times I did the 70 mile trip in 15 degreees. I did fine without heated gear, my observations of what worked was to be layered up, under armor, then fleece, then a heavy windproof winter touring jacket. Heavy socks in my boots. Under armor or better yet FreezeOut (from cycle gear) under my pants, or on really cold days insulated motorcycle pants instead of jeans.
Riding a bike with full upper and lower fairings is a wonderful thing if you have one, I get almost no wind on my Vision if I set the windshield at the right height. I rarely ride my naked bike ( kingpin) below 40 degrees, it just gets too darn cold and windy though with the heated gear it's not so bad as long as I'm careful about sealing out the cold wind.
A Pin lock visor to prevent fogging is very, very helpful, check into those if you don't already have one.
Heated grips are very useful, so is a heated seat, use them if you have them. Heated gloves are great, but they can be a nuisance to string the wires inside your jacket.
Then last year I finally broke down and bought a heated jacket liner. $200 but money well spent!
What difference. It's light, it's thin, it puts out a huge amount of heat into your body and the gloves plug right into the sleeves, no extra wiring required. Instead of arriving chilly but OK after an hour on the interstate under 20 degrees, I was actually warm as i wanted to be, and my one weak spot which is my feet were even warm. If your a serious winter rider, and live in a cold place then the heated gear is the best option I think. I can only imagine how nice the heated bottoms would be under my pants, maybe I'll buy a set of those this year.
 

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Riding gear designed for snowmobiling is great, as far as keeping you comfortable. I have a pair of insulated gauntlet gloves that work great. Cold weather is a way of life up here, and I enjoy it. I personally never needed heated gear. But I'm also the guy that'll go hiking in sub-zero temps.

If you ride a lot of cold, consider an open face or motocross type helmet with a heavy balaclava and goggles. This will prevent your breath from fogging the shield. They also make breath deflectors for inside helmets that work decent.

As far as the roads go, that's pretty obvious. Watch for ice and such, remember that your tires are going to be colder and have less traction, and remember that car drivers will watch out for you even less, as they don't expect bikes in the cold.

And finally, if at all possible find a warm spot that you can wash your bike, if you ride after road salt is started to be used for the season. Wash the salt dust off as soon as you get home.
 

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Posts 9, 10 and 11 are on the money, IMO.
The full fairing on my Triumph, blocks nearly all the wind on my face and upper body. My legs get more breeze than I had expected.
This lets me open the visor on the full face helmet. I have also used my 3/4 helmet with a flip up visor, and a gauntlet style neck scarf, choker, stretchy tube thing. Whatever they are called. Wots a balaclava? Checked. I have one of those as well. Dollar store has the stretchy tube things.

Below about 28 for any distance requires the gear that 721 suggests.
It is a local pass time around here to complain about how cold it is, when it gets near freezing. The left coast around the Gulf Islands, is the warmest place in Canada in the winter.

Yami with the side car attached, that does a lot of winter work, is rusting everywhere. Might be better if there were more oil leaks to work as a shield. There is a hole in the 4 into 1 pipes and no more availability of pipes.

UK
 

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Posts 9, 10 and 11 are on the money, IMO
True enough, I use my snowmobile gear for winter riding, but remember that snowmobiling is usually more physical than motorcycling. I don't generate as much body heat riding the bike.

Blocking the wind is key, as stated above, you can use rain gear to block the cold air. That goes a long way for keeping warm.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Taking the suggestions from here and from a handful of riders on a car forum I made some tweaks and went on another ride.

I decided to do some layering and generally covering all exposed or thinly covered skin. I figured my greatest issue with those first rides was the fact that I really wasn't dressed for extended exposure in the first place. Like said above, moving from one warm place to a other..

Despite similar conditions things felt a lot better. No coldness after an hour of riding local roads/highways and I got bold enough to ride to Milwaukee and back (1hr each way). Still felt pretty warm when I got home.

Someone in a colder climate than myself suggested rubber gloves as an extra lining under the gloves. Sure, couldn't hurt. My hands remained pretty warm for the whole ride despite the lack of heated gloves. I won't say that I felt as warm as I would have had I driven my car, however I didn't feel uncomfortable aside from breaking one of my nails on the clutch lever. lol

I think I found a decent dry weather cold riding setup that works for my body. Following the conversations here I will pick up some more gear for more precipitous and/or colder days. I may also be closing a trade (for my Chinese Ruckus) on a "beater bike" with a nice big windscreen and fairing this week.
 

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Wind protection is key. There's a product called Hippo Hands that does a great job but is expensive if you can find it. But others now make a similar product. Originally for snowmobiles but work on motorcycles if you don't have to look at your hands to use your controls. I've tried just about ever glove, heated or not plus heated grips and never been completely satisfied. Think I'll just complete the search and add these this year. Or something else like this.:smile:



 
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Some folks use the thin surgical type gloves inside their regular gloves. Especially if the outer gloves leak in the rain. I prefer to wear cheap thin cotton or wool type mittens inside, and rain covers on the outside. These covers also block the wind. The bicycle shops should have rain covers for your gloves and boots.

My concern with the type that attach to the bars, is getting your hand in and out quickly, for stop and go stuff. I have a pair not being used here. Mittens with all your fingers together, are usually the warmest. But they are not as handy for riding. Some bikes are easy enough to ride, with your fingers over the clutch and brake levers, while you twist the throttle for giddy up. Some bikes require a bigger handful of throttle, and that is where bulky gloves create a problem. Moving your hand from a grab the throttle position, to a grab the brake position.

Just thinking. The bikes with more giddy up, pull away with a small twist. It is the smaller XS400 that needs a bunch more throttle to move. The 400 does the winter work in the worst weather. I can pick it up if need be. I put on a set of knuckle guards, on this bike to help deflect the wind a bit.

UK
 

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Wind protection is key. There's a product called Hippo Hands that does a great job but is expensive if you can find it. But others now make a similar product. Originally for snowmobiles but work on motorcycles if you don't have to look at your hands to use your controls. I've tried just about ever glove, heated or not plus heated grips and never been completely satisfied. Think I'll just complete the search and add these this year. Or something else like this.:smile:



This has been my solution for years and does not require any special battery hook ups and as an example used them going to Florida last March it was 23 deg F leaving Elwood and hit snow and ice in Louisville KY and kept on rolling while cars where having issues even staying on the road.

Edit: I bought mine for use on those lil 4 wheeler quads and snow mobiles.

Another thought to consider... when you ride in the cold element the city and counties place de-icers downso keeping the "hygiene" of your bike will become very important lots of cleaning and oiling and corrosion control will be required. I have always road all year even in snow wrapping rope around my tires like snow chains. People don't think about you being out there and need to be even more vigilant on your defensive riding again due to tire traction can not flip out of the way as easily or agile even when the pavement appears dry and clean.
 

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Another thing... for most riders that ride year round sometimes it is just impossible to ride, period, and your bike may sit for weeks and the gas needs to be treated for a few things one to keep it from going stale and two to keep it from drawing mouisture into the gas and rusting your tank and causing debris in your tank. This treatment needs to be done anytime you fill up your tank in the winter IMO using marine stable, I also used add 2 stroke synthetic oil too (until 4 years ago all my bikes got to experience all the temp changes outside) and some especially a lot of the old wing owners like your 1100 will use transmission fluid about 1oz to the full tank at fill up. Any of these techniques you want to make sure the treatment gets into the carbs and mixes up and blends into your tank, thus add treatment THEN top off your tank, and ride home, getting everything shook up good and into the carbs. Stabil if properly added to the gas will usually do its job for up to a year I am just a fan of the marine version of that particular product. Anywho carry on ;)
 
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