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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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  #1  
Old 28 Aug 2008
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A Guide to Winter Motorcycle Riding

Hi discerning winter m/c riders!

When I started winter riding on motorcycle a couple of years ago, I asked many stupid and sometimes not so stupid questions on how to do it: Which tyres, which bike, which clothes etc etc. Doing a search on the web I couldn't find any places where such info had been gathered systematically, so I've taken upon myself the task of making such a guide. I have started to build it over at my homepage, and I kind of hoped that those of you who have been riding and camping in the winter (e.g. JoeC90, Matt Cartney, Xander, and many others) could pop over, have a look, comment and help me build the guide. If you have how-to DIY solutions that can help, I'd be very, very thankful. Pictures will be nice too. Your contributions will be duly credited, of course.

If and when the guide is nearing something that will look useful to others, maybe the Johnsons wants to have it on the HUBB? In any case: Your input will be greatly appreciated!

PS: My site is absolutely non-commercial, so this is only knowledge sharing among people having the same interests.

Thanks in advance!

Oh, and here is the URL for the guide: Minutes of a Motorcycle Addict | Two wheels good trip. Four wheels bad trip.
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Just had a peep at your website Hans - fantastic!
I too have a varadero - shame you sold yours but you know that they are great bikes anyway!
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Thank you for your kind words Monsieur-to-go.

The Varadero is a great bike. But I think I'm more inclined to even more big trailie'ish bikes, like my Quota and Tenere. At least the Tenere is suitable for winter riding
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Hey mate great site! you are doing the world a true service! I dont have much more in the way of tips that you have not already spoke of.. just a bit expansion of a few things...

From personal experience ACF-50 is great stuff.. I simply spray it on everything (except for natural latex ACF-50 eats it..so be careful around bead / bearing covers, tyres and that sort of thing). I paint it on the spokes and rims with a 1/2inch paint brush.. I add a bit more every few weeks. In the uk they coat the roads with a salt/sand grit that is just awful so i hose off the bike as often as i can.

Great advice about lowing your tyre pressure too.. I have put my tkc80 down as low as 10 -15 psi (usually run them at 32-34psi), and if the discussion about diy tubeliss (kit (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...ess-rims-37278) goes well I may go lower. Just remember that tyre pressure changes a lot with temperature so check it regularly.

To add to your double visor list there is a product called pinlock.. Pinlock love them! works a treat.

I also agree that heated vests and stuff are a big drain on your battery.. But I am guilty of being addicted to my heated grips... they are a god send when everything is warm except for the things that you cant move, your hands!

I have also become a big fan of over gloves (these in particular http://www.rain-off.com/index.htm)

Finally, road grit can speed up chain death.. so clean it often and keep it well lubricated..

Keep up the good work.. mate!
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Thanks a bunch Xander!

Your input has been duly noted and credited in the guide!
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  #6  
Old 28 Aug 2008
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Great stuff Hans!!!!
i will send an email when I get chance, there are a few additional bits I can throw in the pot, eg the tyre cleaning spray, when transfering from asphalt to snow, get all the tarry stuff off the rubber, and the friction coefficient of ice on rubber is better than you imagine.
Below -20c, on the ploughed compact snow roads,(central scandanavia), small knobbly catspaw tyres are better than full on knobblies, because they bite into the surface better. On smooth ice, the colder the better as far as grip is concerned. Some road style tyres have a high silica content, better for cold traction.
At the moment, trelleborg are doing a stunning deal on 18" army special rear tyres. about 35Euros I believe. I took several to Norway on the sidecar, the guys swear by them!
Simplicity is the order of the day, less cylinders gives better traction, use lightweight oil.
Cooling is a major issue, on a watercooled machine, (like my TA650 sidecar), the temptation is to use loads of antifreeze. Only use enough for the conditions, too much and the engine will overheat, because glycol has poor heat transfere capabilites compared to water. and grinding up steep snowy hills is hard work for an engine!
If the engine has been stood overnight when properly cold (this especially for boxer twins), do a carefull preheat with a stove on the sump, the starter motor has a hard enough job to do without trying to stuff solid oil through its oil pump. this could potentially force seals apart (rubber being brittle) and you are straight into a starved bearing stuation.
Be careful dropping air from the tyres, too much and the treads will close up and you loose traction, also then when you hit a lump of ice that has fallen off the truck, you will pinch the inner tube. I just leave them at road pressure.

Where can I get some of those screw spikes????? they would be great!

Heated grips make a huge difference (no good on the c90 though), and don't tax the genny to much. but all the heated kit in the world doesn't help if you kill the genny and the battery. Make sure the last 1/2 hour on the road is done with minimal current drawer, to get as much charge in as possible. and if you can, get the battery somewhere warm overnight. Convert as many lights on the bike to LED as possible, and have lots of ultrabright red LEDS on the back of the bike as possible. in heavy snow, you don't want a 44 Tonne Artic driving over you.
Camping!
when trying to start a fire in a pile of damp wood, use petrol!!! BUT the trick is to make a proper fist sized snowball, and soak it in petrol WELL AWAY from the fire area, and place under the twigs/small stuff. (Please make sure you are well dry of petrol before lighting it). Sorry to say the obvious.
The snowball will burn with a sensible flame for a minute or so. Easily enough to get a fire going.
Solo camping without a heated tent gets depressing after a week!


.
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Xtraordinaire JoeC90! I knew I'd get a lot of good tips from you. I'll edit this into my page. Great! Will you be over this winter btw?

The spikes you can buy from "Felleskjøpet", which is the Agri Purchasing Coop in Norway. Some GBP 100 pr pack of 200 spikes. Lasts forever. Norwegian agricultural purchasing and marketing Co-Op. Or I can buy them and ship them to you.

Last edited by indu; 28 Aug 2008 at 19:31. Reason: Adding spike info
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  #8  
Old 28 Aug 2008
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How about a Suzi GSX-R 1000 on ice? Not exactly Bambi...

YouTube - gsx-r1000 on ice
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  #9  
Old 28 Aug 2008
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No $%^£dy ferry to Norway.
going via Denmark will be prohibitive in terms of time, cost and tyre wear.

i have just done 3 weeks in the alps and am seriously skint.

She needed bed and breakfast (the girlfiend, not the zrx)
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Ah, yes. The absent ferry. Right. Well. How about the Elefant Treffen next year?
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  #11  
Old 28 Aug 2008
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Possible! I am speaking to a fellow c90 rider who may be up for it.

other possibilities:
talvi in finland,
talvi in estonia (am trying figure if it is the same one as finland though)
Elefant and the tauerntreffen in austria,
Snowdogs

I am still trying to find any events in eastern europe, cz,slo etc.

many many ideas.....
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Ok, let me know what you decide, maybe I could meet up with you guys. I'm ready to go this winter!

BTW I have some Finnish friends if you need translations to solve the Talvi mystery.
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe C90 View Post
..snip...
Camping!
when trying to start a fire in a pile of damp wood, use petrol!!! BUT the trick is to make a proper fist sized snowball, and soak it in petrol WELL AWAY from the fire area, and place under the twigs/small stuff. (Please make sure you are well dry of petrol before lighting it). Sorry to say the obvious.
The snowball will burn with a sensible flame for a minute or so. Easily enough to get a fire going.
.
An other old trick... White Birch Bark will burn wet (Green or dead).. So the trick is peal it off the tree (try not to ring bark it though) and rip it in to small strips.. make them is to a loose ball then use an extra one to light the rest... It burns hot enought to get the rest of your kindleing burning nicely
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Old 28 Aug 2008
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White birch bark....., i will have to dig out my survival books, I can see a contest for the best/most unusual way to start a fire in the wilds

Starting with :
An old east european 2 stroke.

I have contacted the Finnish talvi guys (last year), they are most helpful. i couldn't do anything too dodgy jan 2008, as i had my left knee reconstructed last september following a self inflicted racing injury. (on a c90 of all things). So I restricted myself to nice safe Norway.

next year i will be moving house with the girlfriend, and next jan might be my last "proper" winter trip for a while.
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  #15  
Old 29 Aug 2008
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Great work

As i'm guessing we are trying to help begginers? Please allow me to teach granny to such eggs

Camping
  • Insulation is the key to a good nights sleep. A camping bed can be nice, but having extra cold air under you alone won't help. A Thermarest AND foam mats should go in your luggage first.
  • Don't believe sleeping bag ratings in some commercial shops. They may not do this in Norway, but in the UK some minus 20 rated bags mean you won't actually die at minus 19, but don't expect to sleep. Ex-Army bags do what they say even if they are huge.
  • Cooking fuel can freeze or refuse to light. Gas cannisters freeze first, then unleaded petrol. I never met cold that stopped my Optimus burning kerosene, so have a good think before you set off about where that cuppa that'll make the trip fun will come from. On say the Elefant there are enough places to buy so maybe you don't need a working stove, but in Scandanavia you will.
  • A Thermos flask is useful. It'll stop water freezing for the first drink of the day and is an alternative to getting the stove out for a mid journey break. If you have mechanical issues, a bit of warm water helps you clean the salt off so see what the issue is and can unfreeze things enough to get to work with the WD-40.
Riding gear
  • Layers are your friend, damp inside or out is the big enemy. The trouble is, since they started putting windows in aeroplanes no one's done much work on a guy sitting still in a 100 kph wind at minus 20. Hikers gear is designed for people who generate energy and sweat by moving, but who can also strip off or add layers. Avoid cotton next to the skin, them layer up wool or synthetics and top off with a semi-waterproof layer. Add a fully waterproof layer if it rains, but stop and get it off when you need to. I know a guy who wears an oil rig survival suit if you can get one !!
  • Heated clothing acts as a removable layer if you use it carefully. Cold, turn it on, sweating turn it off. You need a switch, not some cigarette lighter plug that's a PITA to work with gloved hands.
  • A heated visor takes for ever to warm up, but only uses 40-60 W, so leave it on.
  • Chemical heat packs work, ex-army tin boxes with charcoal sticks inside don't. The best chemical packs can be recharged by boiling up when you get the stove going and can be slipped inside clothing for a nice boost when you start to feel the chill.
Bikes
  • Small bikes solo work better but have small alternators. Big bikes are a problem solo but will shift your sidecar a lot better and have lots of electrical power. In other words, unless you are an off road/snow expert you want a lightly loaded small solo with the right tyres or might as well put a sidecar on a 900. It's the mid sized solo's with the wrong tyres that really really suffer.
  • Non-Urals need to be pushed backwards. Make sure your boots are grippy enough. Bike boots can be useless when push or paddling the bike.
  • Car tyres on the rear of an outfit can be rubbish on snow. A bike knobbly can wear fast but it's better than having to drag your 10,000 mile proof monster out of a ditch at every corner.
  • Twins are easier to start than singles of the same size. If a 650 single uses a decompressor, two spark plugs and three carbs jets just to get a pop out of the exhaust, you might want to consider a twin instead. Simple twins can be started on one cylinder and will warm the other until it runs. Simple singles that come with a kickstart can of course be easier still as you can prime them before wasteing the battery.
  • After my adventure with the F650 in the desert I don't like watercooled bikes and I know aircooled ones don't freeze. BUT, components do. Go over the bike with WD-40 or similar and as you do look for where water might sit. Remember your hot bike will melt anything that hit's it before it freezes. A plug of ice in the top of a plug cap because Mr. Triumph didn't develop anything new after 1966 and styled the tank like a gutter, is just as much of a show stopper as radiator full of sludge.
  • Snow chains work. You only really need one on the drive wheel in deep snow but in areas where you'll be in out out of snowy/cleared areas they do give a chance to stay legal in towns and on the motorway. The trouble it, for a bike they'll be modified from a car version, so test before you really need them.
Safety

With gloved hands and cans of petrol, kerosene, carb cleaner and so forth, burns and fire are a huge risk. Allow for the fact that at minus 20 everything takes a long time. Take the time to put gloves on and off and the tops on and off the petrol cans, so avoiding both cold and spills. Unattended fires and badly ventilated tents can be killers.

Hope that's useful.

Andy
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