Joy of winter riding - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-14-2009, 10:19 AM Thread Starter
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Joy of winter riding

I took an AWESOME couple of hour ride through Westchester (a county just north of New York City) this past Saturday and I just wanted to share my experiences with you guys.

First, I was little hesitant as the temperatue was like 25-27F and I have never ridden in a freezing weather but it was so sunny and nice otherwise. I always wondered how you guys up there in Minnesota, or Canada manage to ride so late in the season...

I was VERY surprised that if you have the right gear, the experience is really very pleasant and the seemingly harsh weather is not a problem at all. It reminded me in many ways of skiing - cruising up and down through a hilly, snow covered country.

A few things that I learned - after about 30 mins the gloves I had felt cold in the figertips. I really need to try the trick that some guys in the forum suggested -- thin gloves inside the bigger ones.

Also, I wear a open face helmet with a face shield. The cold air was hitting my chin at the bottom on the shield. I think I would have been much more comfortable with a full-face helmet (I know, it's viewed upon as un-cool on a cruiser, although I am still not sure why...)

A serious thing to watch out for is the ICE -- they were ice patches especially toward the edge of the road - although not wet, as it was freezing. I ran over a few (no braking, no turning, just like coasting on a bicycle). It was a bit scary at times at did not slide a bit, but still I think this is nothing to be underestimated.

If the weather is nice I will do it again next weekend. I just hope that the roads are dry. I really do not want to get the salty spray all over the engine, radiator and everywhere. I do not even have the hose attached by the garage anymore because of the frost!

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-14-2009, 11:21 AM
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I ventured out Saturday, sunny day about 38-39 degrees. The only thing that was uncomfortable was my toes. It was pretty awesome as with the cool temps, the 900 seemed to gain a couple of hundred cc's, the motor was running very strong at these temperatures.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 02:21 PM
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My favorite time to ride is the winter months here in Utah. I live right next to the Rockies so I can leave my home and be in the canyons in minutes. I've ridden in temperatures well below freezing, not counting the wind chill factor. I just dress for snowmobiling.

Still working on keeping the extremities warm, especially my toes and fingers. I usually ride for about two hours and then have to find a warm place (e.g., grocery store) to walk around in until I feel my toes and fingers again. Then another two hours, walk, etc.

I'm testing some glove and sock liners this weekend if the snow and ice on the highways melts off. If that doesn't work, I'll try the Gerbing glove liners and boot insoles.

But winter riding is tops!!!

No bugs. None. Zip. I loooooooooooooove it! Cleaning off the bike after a winter ride is a cinch.

Minimal traffic...even cages.

Incredible scenery as the air is usually clearer in the winter (in the mountains, anyway).

And there's a special feeling that winter riders (in climates other than sunny-all-the-time areas, of course) enjoy that cannot be adequately described to anyone who hasn't done it. A sense of accomplishment maybe? But more than that. A special peace? I don't know. But you're on to a great part of riding.

Just be awfully careful of black ice in the shade.

I once rode 32 hours straight with a buddy while we were preparing for the Utah 1088 endurance rally and ended up leaving home in the worst snow storm of the year. We rode through mountain passes with four to six inches of snow on the highway through Utah, northern Nevada, and Arizona and our bikes didn't slip or slide once. (I've ridden through snow a number of times, by the way, as a long-distance tourer and the bikes have always had plenty of traction, although I do ride more carefully than normal in those conditions.) I've also ridden over ice patches and if you just move slowly, avoid sharp or drastic moves, maintain a constant speed, and stay in low gears and off the brakes, no worries. Still, I avoid the snow and ice as much as possible.

Don't get me wrong: I don't advocate snow and ice riding. But it can be done safely if done carefully.

Enjoy those winter months, guys!

Mine: 2009 Vulcan 900 LT (did own a 2006 LT before this one)
Wife's: 2006 Vulcan 900 LT
Best bike ever: Vulcan 900 LT
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 05:49 PM
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bass567,
I too love the winter riding. WV is very beautiful this time of year. I don't know anyone who views full-face helmets as "un-cool". I have all 3 types of helmet and I wear them all whenever I feel like it. I do prefer the open-face but it has nothing to do with the cool factor. I would suggest stopping by your local Dick's Sporting Goods--or any ski shop--and walk through the skiing department. The face masks and gloves are perfect for low-temp bike rides. I have a pair of Columbia gloves that keep my fingers warm all afternoon.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpgpgmr View Post
bass567,
I too love the winter riding. WV is very beautiful this time of year. I don't know anyone who views full-face helmets as "un-cool". I have all 3 types of helmet and I wear them all whenever I feel like it. I do prefer the open-face but it has nothing to do with the cool factor. I would suggest stopping by your local Dick's Sporting Goods--or any ski shop--and walk through the skiing department. The face masks and gloves are perfect for low-temp bike rides. I have a pair of Columbia gloves that keep my fingers warm all afternoon.
I would love it to but its kinda hard to ride in 14 inches of snow at 20-30 below wind chills. Oh to be in warmer weather, but gonna get that new seat very soon.

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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-15-2009, 09:59 PM
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Hi Bass, I also ride whenever I can in the cold weather. Maybe I can offer my experiences. Once I rode in a light snow fall at night and it wasn't fun. Now I restrict my cold weather riding to daytimes. I have 2 helmets a 3/4 and a full face. I use the full face with a neck warmer to seal out the cold air from coming under the helmet or into the top of my jacket. When it gets to 25 degrees I also use a breath box to minimize fogging inside. A ride of a half an hour or so can chill my feet so I slip on my totes over shoes and that keeps the toes real happy. I found that those under armor long johns work well for me. On top of that a long sleeved button down shirt then an arm less quilted vest then my leather jacket. I also use my chaps in the winter as well. I experimented a lot with layering and purposely selected a jacket that was a size large so I would not feel "stuffed" when I wore a lot of clothes. As far as gloves go I have 1 insulated pair of gauntlet gloves ($65.00) that do a good job but when your at highway speeds it's still not enough. I tried thin gloves under my regular gloves but my hands got fatigued real fast and that sucked. So I bought a pair of muffs to fit over the grips and added a bit of extra stuffing to help seal drafts where they wrap around the handle bars. Plain old strips of black cloth wrapped around the bars where the muffs sealed did the trick.
The biggest drawback to cold weather riding is that it takes longer to get dressed for a ride and I used my bike for a lot of commuting. Riding is supposed to be fun so when it gets to be too much of a chore I figure it's time to get her ready for winter. She never really rests for more than a couple of weeks anyway because when we get the occasional nice day we'll go out for an afternoon ride. One thing probably worth mentioning was that I didn't invest in heated grips. The couple of guys I know that have them say that their finger tips still get cold anyway. But their ok if you like sweaty palms.

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 08:28 AM
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The real problem here is all the salt they dump on the roads. We can have a 2" snowfall and the roads will be white not from the snow but the salt!


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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 08:47 AM
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Well, i agree about the salt, Nomad, but riding around in -20 and colder has it's drawbacks too.

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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-16-2009, 09:06 AM
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In my youth I rode the entire year in Milwaukee, WI. I had to park the bike outside under a cover and would put on a snowmobile suit, heavy gloves etc. My co-workers looked at me like I was crazy. (I kinda think I was too )These days, about 50 is my threshold now before it is no longer enjoyable to me.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 12-18-2009, 11:35 PM
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Yeah. I don't know about the cold riding anymore. If you dress for it ain't too bad. I found that the those silver metallic glove liners work well. If you have gloves that are windproof you are okay. Gore-tex is great stuff.

I don't know if I am crazy, but I swear the bike sounds different in the cold. The exhaust sounds crisper.

I like to ride in the winter at least once a month. If the roads have warmed up enough to melt off and it is above 20 I am game. Plus if I get at least one 50 mile ride in a month then I don't have to winterize the bike.

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