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2881 Views 14 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  bairo
I have about 60 road miles under my belt on a 2012 900c I recently purchased. Today, I made the mistake of going out in 30 degree weather and 25mph wind gusts without proper gear. After a 20 minute back road ride I found myself rushing home to get out of the cold! I decided to take the highway for the first time to expedite the miserable ride. Needless to say, 25mph 30 degree wind gusts while riding 70mph were not fun, very scary for that matter. Although countersteering helped tremendously, I wanted to know if you guys had any tips to battle crosswinds or at least make them less frightening. I felt like a rag doll getting thrown around my lane. Thanks in advance!!
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Slow down, speed and strong wind can put you in the wrong lane in a hurry.
ATGATT900, cold weather like you were riding in tends to magnify other bad riding conditions, especially if you're freezing half to death to begin with. The strong crosswind gusts probably wouldn't have bothered you near as much on a nice warm day. I learned it's much easier to counter the wind gusts when you're relaxed, but no one can relax when they're frozen stiff. Don't worry about it, and glad you made it home.

And like Norwegian said, slow down, especially when it's cold. That wind chill can put you down.
ATGATT900, both replies are spot on.

Wind and cold are two things that can make your ride not only miserable but also dangerous. Always look for the weather forecast for the day. I use http://wunderground.com/.

The wind
If you have no choice but to ride in windy conditions definitely slow down, be aware of bridges, canyons, changes in landscape around you. A gust of wind may come suddenly through the opening and put you in a different lane or blow you off the road all together, especially if you are not used to riding in high winds. Seek alternative route via slower roads if you can. Keep your upper body more relaxed. Do not have a death grip on your bars, give it some flex, but at the same time do not relax it so that it is pulled out of your hands on the first bump. The legs should hug your bike but the arms should allow for some flex. Above all SLOW DOWN.

The cold
The cold is a separate thing from wind, but also can be quite dangerous. When you are shivering from cold your reactions are slower and your limbs are numb. The blood recedes from your limbs to protect vital organs. This is the beginning of hyperthermia. Generally as a rule of thumb look at the thermometer, and subtract 10 degrees (F). This will be the temperature at speed.

The riding gear
In US, cruiser riders like to ride in work boots, scull cap and a leather jacket. Some ride in flip-flops, bum-bag and a bandana. That’s fine. We are all adults and make our own choices. Call me a Sissy, but personally I ride in full battle gear. Alpine riding boots, Dainesse riding pants that zip up to the Dainesse riding jacket. Both are wind proof and have hidden pads on the knees, elbows, shoulders and back and a full face helmet. Not a US cruiser style outfit, but it protects me from the cold, wind, small rocks and insects. I recommend to use bike gear that is designed for riding. It will not save you from a 70mph impact with a wall, but it will make you feel more comfortable. And anyone will tell you that riding is a mind game. If you think you are going to fall, you will.

I know that many experienced bikers in US would love to throw rotten tomatoes at me for riding in full gear, but it is better to be worm and comfortable rather then cold and numb. Not to mention that getting hit with a small rock thrown by a car in front of you is rather painful.

And as far as looking cool, Well, You will look much cooler when you get home safe and sound rather than dead in the ditch. If you insist on riding naked, or in clothes that are in no way designed for motorcycling do that once you have at least 10,000 miles under your tires.

Know your Vulcan
Your Kawa speedo does not show you your true speed. Usually it is off by about 8% or so, and the final drive ratio is too high, thus all your gears are too low. So when your speedo shows 72 mph you are doing 65mph. And revs are way too high. Have you noticed that every cage was passing you at super sonic speed? :)

This can be cured by speedohiller and installing aftermarket pulleys. 34 teeth on the drive and 62 teeth on the wheel. This gears-up your bike and you ride on the highway more like a cruiser. 900 has plenty of power for that, especially if you ride solo. Your throttle is less twitchy at higher speeds with lower revs. However, if you do this mode, you will lose power in lower range, so no drag racing with that setup. 0 to 60 will suffer, but if you are not trying to get from 0 to 60 ASAP and rather be more comfortable on highways I would recommend this modification.

Hope this helps.
Be safe.
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When it's pretty cold I usually wear a wind breaker with either a Joe Rocket jacket or a heavy leather jacket over it. It's the finger tips that always feel the worst of it.

I actually enjoy riding in the wind. I road to work once after a tropical storm passed over. I was the only person on I95. It was crazy. It was reckless. It was fun as hell.

Guess I can cross that off the bucket list.
Thank you all for your input. Believe me, I've learned my lesson with the cold and heavy wind combination. Even with 3 layers of both pants and shirts/jackets, full face, boots, good pair of gloves, balaclava and all, let's just say heated gear is on the wish list. I am building a good gear wardrobe, I was just dying to take her out for a ride! You guys have been a huge help! I will be keeping a closer eye on the weather and definitely staying off the highway for now in those conditions, at least until I have more miles under my belt.
A good chart to show temps and how much cooler it gets at speed when chilly out. Dressing in layers helps some, and at least one layer that is wind proof helps alot.


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A good chart to show temps and how much cooler it gets at speed when chilly out. Dressing in layers helps some, and at least one layer that is wind proof helps alot.
Interesting chart, especially at 95 degrees and up where the felt temperature goes UP! That explains why I was cooking last summer in that Kansas heat. I wonder how humidity figures in?
if you catch yourself out like that and getting back is questionable, it's better to park the bike and come back with a truck, or take short hops and get warm in between, or go slower to stay warmer. Your choice was the last one I'd have made
Very interesting chart, and I agree looking back I wouldn't have done it if I knew what I was getting myself into. However, it was good learning experience.
@ATGATT900 In the end you did not drop it, did not crash, did not injure yourself and got home in one piece. I think kudos are in order!
There is a good book by Lee Parks
Total Control Performance Street Techniques

And here it is on iTunes store

A good read. Advanced techniques of a race rider adapted for street and highway riding. Works on Sport bikes and Cruisers. He goes in depth on cornering, handling bike, traction, suspension tires etc etc. All in simple understandable English. Best $12 I have spent on a bike book. There are exercises to develop those techniques from beginner level up to advanced. Both mental and physical. It improved my riding by a huge margin.

Check it out.
Looks like a great read, I will surely be checking it out. Thanks again for all the awesome advice!
Don was absolutely correct (except he meant to say "hypothermia" instead of hyperthermia.
I would also add that you should check your tire pressure. You might think that running a lower pressure would help but this is not so. I have found the vulcan to be very sensitive to pressure as compared to previous bikes I have owned. (mine has pirelli Mt 66 tires on it) I love the tires and will change to night dragons soon, but I have to run 40 rear and 38 front or it handles oddly and is much worse in high winds if those pressures are even 2 lbs off. Remember that the pressures recommended on the bike are for the original tires and I find even those a bit low for me anyway
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