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tomk2 10-28-2005 08:56 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
I grew up in rural northern Minnesota & rode a 125cc Honda dirt bike to school most of my junior & senior years, no problem tho I'd hate to ride in snow if there was any traffic.

You get out in the country & the dirt roads would stay snow-packed all winter, never dropped the bike once.

P.S. It was 10 miles and UPHILL both ways!

Buzglyd 10-28-2005 10:29 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
Were you barefoot?

TomSmith 10-28-2005 11:38 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
Around 1950, when I was about 17 years old, I rode an enduro that started near Beaumont (CA), East of Los Angeles about 60 miles, and went up through Camp Angelus on pavement, then on dirt roads to Big Bear and from there to the desert. It snowed 8" the night before and the roads were closed (even with chains). The temperature was 8 below zero, and with wind chill was about 45 below. We started out on winding mountain roads which were covered with ice. Most of us put both feet down on the ground as outriggers (training wheels?). I fell down once and had to drag my bike on my hands and knees to the side of the road to pick it up. One guy in our club was so cold he was stopped by the side of the road. I loaned him my horsehide sheepskin-lined gauntlets for about 10 minutes so he could get warmed up enough to continue. When we got to Camp Angelus, a bar was open. About 1/4 of the entrants dropped out there - the parking lot was full of bikes.

The guy that owned the bike shop I rode out of told me he was riding on the dirt road part and found a girl who had fallen off crossing an (ice covered) stream. She broke through the ice and damaged her battery. Since he ran on magneto and had some tools, he gave her his battery. I found that if I drug my feet in the snow my feet felt a lot warmer. It was weird riding through snow on a dirt road dragging your feet and going as fast as you could without having any idea what you were going to run over.

I sometimes saw some tire marks 2 or 3 feet up on the side of a dirt bank beside the road. Later I asked a side hack guy about them and he said it was probably him. Since he had no control on the ice, he just sort of pointed to the bank, then bounced off it to head in the correct general direction. He told me his passenger got some thrills and terror out of this.

When I got back on pavement and close to Big Bear, I saw a guy walking along the road. I thought to my self that this guy was really nuts, so I stopped and asked him if he wanted a ride. He said OK, so the two of us slid along, mostly out of control, to where he wanted to go. He even thanked me for the lift.

After Big Bear, we went out of the mountains and down to the desert. It felt a little strange to be riding up dry river beds in 85 degree temperature while being dressed for 8 below.

I just did this once, and have never again wanted to ride a bike on either snow or ice, especially when it's 45 below (wind chill).

bross 10-28-2005 12:49 PM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
One of our engineers did that with his dirt bike a few years ago, attached a snowmobile ski to his forks. Didn't work very well, the front end washed out way too easy on hard pack and if you hit any kind of rut the ski would track in the rut while the back end tried to do it's own thing. He basically gave up after crashing way too many times.

yoavy11 10-28-2005 04:22 PM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
Were you barefoot?

wfowade 10-29-2005 02:34 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
Put the bong down and get a snowmobile.

What a goofy idea-riding a motorcycle in traffic with snow.

TomSmith 10-29-2005 08:49 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
Yup - no shoes. shirt, or pants. Just gloves and a smile. I think it was 1951, not 1950. And I forget which enduro it was, maybe the Cactus Derby. There were about 350 entries. My memory is fading fast. Perhaps someone else who was there could add to it. That was my first and last snow & ice experience.

billhawley 10-29-2005 08:52 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
I've ridden all but a handful of days most Winters here in Buffalo. I actually had ONLY a motorcycle (by choice) for three years here. That was when the bones bent instead of breaking, and I figured it'd impress the ladies with my "manliness". Now that I'm "aware" of my knees and elbow joints, I've resigned myself to the fact that old man Winter and older guys on motorcycles really don't mix. I rode this morning (just around the freezing point), but much below that just doesn't do it for me anymore. I get cold faster, and it takes longer to warm up now than it did. Still, nice Winter days can offer a really enjoyable riding experience. Nothing like "making the first path" in fresh white snow. But, really watch it when it's "glazed" -- just starting to accumulate, and stay off altogether if it's windy and icy (impossible to effectively cope with both -- no matter who you are...) Dirt experience certainly helps, but it's a whole 'nother world of limited traction at times.

As an aside: I had a CM400E (similar to your CB350) that I bought specifically as my "Winter Bike" a few years ago. Usually it was a blast to ride, but in Winter it became useless, because the control cables froze up. I'd have to pull it inside every day at work, just to thaw the choke, throttle, clutch and (yes) front brake drum cables. No amount of cleaning and lubrication helped. A huge PITA. Then you'd have to worry about the cables freezing (stuck open throttle entering a turn, anyone?) Never had this problem with my old water buffalo or RE5. Both were fairly heavy street bikes, but worked well with skinny universal ("vintage style") street tires, wide bars and the taller seat heights. Skinny tires get though deeper snow more easily. Two strokes (and the Rotary come to think of it) offer very little torque at lower engine speeds, so they tend to spin the drive tire less easily on take offs. Rear end slides can be serious fun -- front end slides often result in a loud prang. Properly adjusted drum brakes are more progressive, predictable, and forgiving than discs in poor conditions, and by a wide margin. With modern friction linings, they work just about as well on dry or wet roads. "Drum only" equipped bikes are also very cheap, since "normal" people see this as a "demerit", not a benefit.

As others have said, you are still at the mercy of cagers -- many of whom seem startled to see a two wheeler coming the other way through a curtain of heavy snow (and may actually aim where they're looking...), or they can have trouble seeing your wee little tail lamp. Position yourself accordingly in lanes (offset from any car in front of you at stops, for example.) My rule of thumb was: if I can make it off my side street, I can easily make it to work.

You WILL fall at some point, so make sure you dress accordingly. Protect your knees and ankles with protective gear; the skin of your thighs and your hands from the cold. Wear a mask too -- with the eyeholes cut larger. But beware of bulking up too much. It can restrict movement and visibility considerably. Snowmobile (heated) visors are availabe to prevent fogging, or just keep the visor cracked, and open it at stops. A cheap rain suit over light layers of clothing works surprisingly well too. Use at least a windshield to block the wind (but make sure you can easily look OVER, not through it -- as it will be white with salt most of the time.) An old Vetter Windjammer with lowers is quite heavy, but offers supreme weather protection (and stands up well to low speed drops.)

Above all: have a "Plan B" if you choose to Winter ride. It's not "manly" to ride home if the weather REALLY gets far worse than you expected it would. It's just stupid. Oh, and you COULD die. People have died here stranded in CARS, just 25 feet away from buildings they couldn't even see in lake effect snowstorms. Make sure a friend or co-worker will agree to be an "enabler" (for maintaining your motorcycle addiction), or let you stay the night.

Sorry, didn't mean to write a book here, but it's a subject close to my heart ;-)

rmdower 10-29-2005 09:45 AM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow
what's a bong?

yo-me-mo 10-31-2005 10:58 PM

Re: Winter Motorbiking in Snow

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