I’ve often felt that the real reason many motorcyclists don’t winterize their motorcycles is that they keep holding off in hopes to squeeze in one more ride. Although the MO Towers are located in Southern California, many of us ventured from colder climes to the Great American West in an effort to enjoy year-‘round riding. The journalism gig is just something we managed to weasel our way into as a means of supporting our habit.
In an effort to help dedicated riders in places that have real winter, the following list contains sure-fire signals that it is time to winterize your motorcycle rather than continue riding it or letting it sit unprepared developing the mechanical manifestations of Parked Motorcycle Syndrome.
[Thanks to Matt King for suggesting this list.]
While you may have the rugged nature and resourcefulness of Jeremiah Johnson, the simple truth is that, when the temperatures don’t make it above freezing, your chances of running into ice on the roadway increases. With black ice, which you can’t see, you may find yourself sliding down the road before you’re aware you’re not astride your bike any longer.
It’s time to put your bike away for the winter. (Or find a place to go ice racing.)
Can it be considered nagging when your spouse really just has your best interests at heart? With the snow depth up above your waist – before you consider the drifts or piles created by the snow plows – wanting you to be found by a search party rather than waiting for the Spring thaw is probably a demonstration of love.
No, your smartphone doesn’t have a virus. It’s becoming sentient and wants you to stop riding in the battery-sucking cold that you’ve been subjecting it to. Also, you might get more riding enjoyment during the winter in a more temperate environment.
Remember the first time you sat on your bike the day you brought it home? Wasn’t the way the seat molded itself to your buttocks a siren song to go out and ride, to chase horizons or the twistiest roads? That cold, hard slab of concrete you just sat on is trying to tell you something. It’ll return to the same supple perch come Springtime.
Wind chill is a funny thing: your hands are still freezing, but you can see the pattern of your bike’s heated grips seared into your palms. A set of handlebar muffs, like these from Oxford, may help a little, but you’re fighting a losing battle.
Yes, you’ve stopped at every coffee house in a 20-mile radius – and you don’t even drink coffee! All you want is something warm to hold on to while you feel the itch of warmth returning to your fingers. It’s time to pack your bike away for a couple months or start working your way through the local diners and gas stations as your source of life-saving heat.
Ice in your beard may be impressive on the ski slopes, but having the chunks wave around in the wind at highway speeds is painful. If you’re wearing a full-face helmet, the microclimate may allow the ice to melt, fog your visor, and refreeze. Good luck with that.
Last week, you got so cold that you couldn’t put your feet down in time and fell over when you came to a stop light. If that weren’t embarrassing enough, you had to struggle to stand up – before even attempting to lift your bike – with a group of onlookers watching from the warmth of their cars. So, you decided that, instead of tucking your bike away for its long winter’s nap, you just needed to don more layers to keep the cold at bay. Now, you’re faced with a different problem: How do you mount and then control your motorcycle in your statue-like condition.
Go ahead, just put a ski on the front and a sand paddle on the rear or just go all the way by getting a snowbike. Then you’ll be ready for your morning commute. Or you could behave like a sane person and winterize your bike and watch the deep back catalog on MotoGP.com.
If you’ve gotten to this point, you may be beyond hope. Yes, your dedication is admirable, but your sanity is definitely in question. If even your most motorcycle-consumed buddies are shaking their heads about your insistence on riding, it’s probably time to take a short break. Think of all the cool modifications you can make over the next two months.
Riding season is just around the corner.