Indiana weather can sometimes be tricky to predict, but this morning was a dreadful reminder that colder weather is most certainly on the way. For many motorcyclists, this first annual encounter with the morning frost can often mean that it's time to start thinking about sending the baby into hibernation until spring rolls around. But still, there are quite a few riders out there who aren't ready to submit to the winter wrath quite yet- and it's A-okay to keep riding through the season, as long as it's done safely.
The Cold, Hard Truth.
First, we need to acknowledge the dangers and risks associated with riding in the cold. If you've ever journeyed out into the brisk, fall breeze unprepared, you were likely quick to regret not tuning in to Fox59 that morning for the weather. Not only is riding in the cold extremely uncomfortable without proper gear, but your body and mind are also at a significant disadvantage when your body temperature drops. Even if you think you're feeling good, colder temperatures will often result in:
- Slower reaction times
- Impaired judgement
- Low energy
- Stiff joints and muscles
All of which make you a hazard to yourself and others out on the road. Of course, the last thing we, at Southside Harley, would ever want to do is discourage anyone from riding. So, with enthusiastic support for our die-hard riders out there, we've thoughtfully assembled a list of riding tips that will help you stay safe and warm, should you choose to motor through the bitter days ahead.
Tips For Riding Safely In The Cold
1. Choose Your Underwear Wisely
Wearing thermal underwear will help your body retain heat in all the places that matter. This will help you stay warm without the need to layer on several additional pieces of clothing that may restrict your body's movement while riding. We recommend The Harley-Davidson® FXRG Base Layer Pant and Base Layer Tee. These under-layers from the FXRG Collection were designed with some pretty incredible smart technology that actually help to regulate your body's temperature.
Check out the video for more information about the FXRG Under Layer:
See the full FXRG Collection for HERE (in-store availability may vary)
2. Invest In The Gear That Matters
Sometimes there are benefits to spending a few extra bucks on good quality gear that is actually designed for riding. You can throw on your thick, toasty pair of snow-blowing gloves, but will your hands and fingers be nimble enough to operate your controls?
Treating yourself to a proper riding jacket will also help make those cold rides quite a bit easier. The material you choose for your jacket is typically a matter of preference. Some riders will say that a waterproof, textile jacket will be your best bet to keep you warm without restricting your movements. But Harley-Davidson has introduced some pretty wicked innovations to their leather jackets which make them a mentionable option, as well.
Check out some of the recommended cold weather gear we've got in stock at Southside Harley!
3. Stay Hydrated
Unlike the summer time, we don't always thirst for water when it's cold outside. That can become a problem if we don't recognize that our bodies still need water to function at 100%. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and during your ride.
4. Skip The Morning Joe
Coffee is a great way to start a crisp, winter morning- but not necessarily if you're planning on riding. It may hit the spot and warm your spirits, but drinks like coffee increase your blood flow to the skin to make you feel warmer, but you're actually losing body heat. Best to stick with water or drinks with electrolytes to keep you truly hydrated for the ride.
5. Eat Like A Champ
Because our metabolism slows down when it's cold, our body begins to shiver to generate heat inside of us. Eating hardy, nutritional foods will keep you warm while calories are burned. Foods with anti-oxidants and immune-boosting properties will help you feel warm while you ride. While eating hot foods make you feel warm in the moment, a piece of fruit can be just as beneficial, if not more.
6. Stop Frequently
If you're planning on being on the road for a while, make sure to make plenty of stops to warm yourself up. Taking breaks will give you the chance to stretch out and get the blood flowing through your body again. Take this time for a quick self-assessment of how your fingers and toes are feeling. If you can, try to stop at rest stops along your route to use hand dryers in the restrooms to warm your fingers.
You May Spend More, But It Won't Cost As Much
In the end, making the decision to ride through the winter- or at least for some colder months- takes a bit of preparation and, yes, perhaps a little bit of money. But your rides will be much more tolerable and- dare we say- enjoyable. By committing to a few upfront expenses and inconveniences, you're actually investing in the safety of yourself and others out on the road- and that's something we can all afford.