As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, many motorcycle enthusiasts may be tempted to stow away their beloved rides for the fall and winter seasons. However, with the right preparation, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of two-wheeled adventures throughout the chillier months. In this blog, we'll explore the crucial reasons why it's vital to prepare your motorcycle for fall and winter riding and why it's crucial to maintain your insurance coverage even during the off-season. From safety and performance to gear and maintenance, we'll cover everything you need to know to ensure a smooth and enjoyable riding experience during the colder seasons. So, don't hang up your helmet just yet; let's dive into the essential steps to keep your ride running strong when the mercury falls.
10 Steps to Prepare Your Motorcycle for Fall and Winter Riding
1. Tires: Fall and winter can bring slippery roads, so it's paramount to check your tires to ensure they have proper tread and air pressure. Are your sporty summer tires still mounted on your motorcycle? If so, now is an ideal moment to consider a switch. Sporty tires, designed with softer rubber for optimal performance in warm conditions, tend to experience diminished traction when exposed to colder weather. Transitioning to touring tires is recommended for improved grip and safety in colder conditions. When the temperature dips below 10°C, your tire pressures may decrease by 2-3psi. While this might not seem substantial, if your tires were already marginally inflated, it could lead to increased steering effort and an unsettling sensation while braking. It's advisable to inspect your tire pressures on chilly mornings to maintain optimal performance.
2. Fluids: As temperatures drop, your motorcycle's fluids can thicken, affecting performance. Check your oil, coolant, and brake fluid levels. Changing the oil before winter is a good practice to remove any contaminants that could affect engine health.
3. Battery: Cold weather can be harsh on your battery. Cold temperatures result in oil thickening and increased internal friction within the engine, necessitating extra effort from your battery to initiate a cold start. To assess your battery's health, measure its resting voltage with the engine off. A well-maintained battery should display a voltage reading of no less than 12.6 volts. Ensure the battery terminals are lightly lubricated, and verify that all connections are securely fastened.
4. Clean and Lubricate: A clean bike is a happy bike. Dirt, grime, and road salt can accelerate corrosion. Give your motorcycle a thorough cleaning and apply a protective wax or sealant to the paint and chrome surfaces. Additionally, lubricate all moving parts, such as the chain and sprockets, to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.
5. Antifreeze and Coolant: Ensure your coolant system has the right antifreeze-to-water ratio. This will prevent the engine from freezing and potentially causing expensive damage.
6. Lights and Signals: Visibility is crucial during the darker fall and winter months. Check all your lights, signals, and reflectors. Replace any burnt-out bulbs or damaged lenses to ensure you're seen by other motorists.
7. Brake Check: Your brakes are your lifeline on the road. Inspect the brake pads and ensure they have sufficient material left. If they're worn down, replace them promptly. Properly functioning brakes are essential for safety.
8. Gear: As the temperature drops, you'll want to ensure you have the right riding gear. Invest in cold-weather gear, including a high-quality jacket, pants, gloves, and a full-face helmet to keep you warm and protected from the elements. Cold weather can also pose a threat to your visibility on the road. Traditional visors have a tendency to mist up in chilly conditions, and having uncovered skin in low temperatures isn't advisable. It's a wise choice to opt for a full-face helmet equipped with an anti-fog visor or an electric defrost feature to guarantee optimal visibility at all times.
9: Watch out for fallen leaves: Despite its unassuming appearance, a collection of dry leaves has the potential to conceal road imperfections like potholes, posing an elevated risk of accidents. Hidden beneath the leafy cover, sharp objects may lead to flat tires and heightened danger. Additionally, when wet, leaves can significantly increase road slipperiness, reducing your motorcycle's traction. As a precaution, it's advisable to exercise cautious driving and reduce speed until you have safely navigated past this potential hazard.
10: Consider heated grips or gloves: Fall and winter rides can become much more comfortable with the addition of heated grips or gloves. Heated grips are equipped with built-in heating elements, frequently featuring multi-level heat settings, and are powered by the motorcycle's 12-volt electrical system.
Why You Should Keep Your Ontario Motorcycle Insurance Over the Winter
Many motorcyclists may consider canceling their insurance during the winter months when they won't be riding. However, this might not be the wisest decision. Here are some compelling reasons to maintain your Ontario motorcycle insurance coverage throughout the year:
1. Theft and Vandalism: Motorcycles are attractive targets for thieves and vandals, and they are often stolen or damaged during the off-season when they are left unattended. Having comprehensive insurance will help cover the cost of replacement or repairs.
2. Storage Risks: Even if you store your motorcycle in a garage or storage unit, accidents can happen. A leaking roof, a fallen object, or a burst water pipe could damage your bike. Insurance will provide peace of mind and financial protection against these unexpected incidents.
3. Liability Protection: While you may not be riding your motorcycle during the winter, it's still possible for accidents to occur while it's parked. For example, someone might accidentally knock it over or damage it in a parking lot. Liability coverage can protect you from potential legal and financial consequences.
4. Lapse in Coverage: Cancelling your insurance policy and reactivating it when you start riding again can be more expensive in the long run. Insurance companies may view a lapse in coverage as a risk factor, potentially increasing your premium when you reinstate your policy.
5. Peace of Mind: Insurance provides peace of mind, knowing that your investment is protected year-round. Accidents can happen at any time, even when you're not actively riding your motorcycle.
How do you determine when it's too frigid or unfavorable for a motorcycle ride? Assuming you're appropriately dressed, temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit should typically pose no hindrance to your ride. However, as the mercury begins to plummet toward freezing or if snowfall is imminent, it's time to consider postponing your ride. Snowy conditions bring reduced visibility and treacherous road surfaces. Even if there's no snowfall when you initially set out, it's advisable to consult a weather service or app to ascertain the day's forecast. Being caught in a snowstorm or heavy rain is best avoided.
In conclusion, preparing your motorcycle for fall and winter riding, and keeping your motorcycle insurance year-round is essential for safety and performance. By following the maintenance tips outlined above, you'll ensure that your bike is in top condition when spring arrives. Furthermore, keeping your insurance coverage in place year-round is a smart decision to protect your investment and provide you with peace of mind. Remember, it's better to be safe than sorry, ride smart and ride safe!
It is important to ensure you have Ontario motorcycle insurance before you ride to protect you against any unexpected situations or expenses. Contact your insurance broker today to ensure you are properly covered under your motorcycle insurance policy.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as professional insurance advice. The coverage, terms, and conditions of each insurance policy are unique and subject to individual circumstances. The information provided does not guarantee the availability or suitability of any insurance policy for your specific needs. You should not rely on the information in the blog as an alternative to professional advice from your insurance broker or insurance company. If you have any specific questions about any insurance matter, please consult a licensed insurance broker for personalized advice and guidance.