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Any tips on the art of riding in snow?
I expect to encounter quite a lot of it on the way back from Pakistan in a couple of months.
I'm considering getting some snow tyres as there could be some very long snowy sections. Is riding on studs on non-snow covered road lethal?
I would strongly advise against using studs in motorcycle tires unless you are planning extended periods on ice. A studded tire on hard or frozen asphalt makes for a dangerous situation. I would liken it to riding on marbles.
A tire with a decent tread to clear snow should serve you just as well if not better.
I can vouch for alibaba's low pressures, use knobbie tyres if you can, and stay in the soft stuff, the wheel tracks are just ice and impossible to ride on.
Watch out for trucks and cars, I saw heaps of accidents on my Turkish snow ride, speeding cars sliding helplessly into oncomming trucks that couldnt stop, and trucks sliding bacwards down the hill with wheels (snow chains on) driving forward. Sometimes I would ride around a truck sliding back towards me....my brain had clearly frozen by this point.
Use handle bar muffs to keep your hands warm and carry as little as possible. I rode at walking pace and i was alone often at the tops of passes, this didnt really help when I rode into the culvit on the roads edge.
As with all things, in the first instance don't panic! We've done hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles 2 up in snow (R100 BMW), on standard tyres. The most important rules as for all tricky surfaces, be that snow or just wet/muddy/gravel/sand etc. are to do everything smooth-slow-gentle and above all BELIEVE! If you approach it thinking you're going to fall-off, you will be tense, react stiffly and probably will deck-it,whereas if you remain confident, you'll relax and all will be well.
Specific Advice: -
Try to stay in "fresh" snow, once it's compacted by other wheels, it just gets slippier.
Ride smooth and easy - don't be afraid to use the brakes, including the front one, but do nothing to hard or too quickly.
If it's likely to be for more than a few miles, let some air out of the tyres - I'd drop mine to about 22/23psi, because at that I can carry on to the next compressor any lower and you might need to pump-up (by hand!) once you clear the white stuff.
An anecdote, albeit in reverse, comes from an afternoon we spent "playing" on some sand dunes in the Northern Territories, with two Finns (who were brilliant) I was doing OK and an Aussue from Bundaberg in Queensland, who couldn't stay upright and constantly bogged down - When he asked for advice, one of the Finns without giving enough consideration, suggested that he rode "just as you would in the deep snow of winter". An expletive filled response noted that whilst there wasn't much deep sand to practice on in Bundaberg, there was even less snow!
As previously mentioned,you need to train your brain NOT to panic when things get a little out of shape!Best training you can do is to practice before you go,and teach your brain to enjoy the feeling and sensation of sliding,and to use the throttle to "steer" the back of the bike out of trouble rather than heave on the brakes which won't do much.If you've ever been to watch a grasstrack race meeting,you'll see that it's normal to drift a bike around a corner even without putting your foot down.It's pretty much the same technique on snow,except everything happens a lot slower.And it isn't a black art either....anyone can do it with practice,and once you manage it you'll suddenly start to look for chances to repeat the experience as it brings a hell of a grin on!And don't be affraid to fall off at slow speed either.Laugh,pick the bike up and go again!
Just going for a short ride on my bike....
Any sort of camber is treacherous and the icier it gets, the worse it is.
I guess anything would be better than the half worn street tyres i had on my R65, but carry 10 or 15 metres of rope with you (thick, but thin enough for clearance between your tyres and swingarm/forks/mudgaurd) and wind it around the tyres and rims when you hit the cold stuff. It helps with traction.
Be careful in the evening when snowmelt refreezes as sheet ice on an otherwise clear road.
It's not much fun, but makes for some good stories.
There are limits to what should be attempted on two wheels. If it is a question of riding in the vicinity of snow,on dry clear road surfaces then go for it but if one is actually contemplating riding through snow on public roads do some serious thinking about modifying the route or time schedule to avoid it if at all possible. If you want to experience riding in snow first wait for winter and take a dirtbike out near home , with someone watching, into a snow covered field or parking lot and get stuck and fall down all you like without the risk of getting run over by four wheelers or landing in a desolate ditch and freezing to death.It seems to escape some that where there is snow it invariably will be cold, very cold and unbelievably cold. Snow is just another name for ice, and two wheels are not enough.All the fancy thermal underwear and electric heated clothing can only work to a point, and if you fall down, kill the bike and drain the battery you will get hypothermia . "
Best wishes from the "Great White North
The last post summarizes my feelings exactly, if you haven't ridden on ice before, you will find it very difficult, if not impossible and a location miles from home on a fully loaded bike is not the place to learn.
If you do attempt such a foolish thing, make sure you are entirely self sufficient (ie, tent, sleeping bag, food, etc) as the cold and an icy crash can be indeed life-threatening.
Where there is snow on the road, there will also be ice. Riding a motorcycle on ice is not like riding in sand or mud, its much, much tricker. If you are comfortable riding your fully loaded bike with both wheels skidding at the same time and your bike sideways, well maybe you have what it takes to ride on the ice.
We encountered snow in Kyrgyzstan and a few days ago in the mountains in Pakistan (by accident) and I will say that riding on ice just plain sucks.
If its icy, proceed with your bike in the back of a truck...its not worth the hazards, IMHO.
Hi, id agree with the lads above, having recently had to ride through snow for days, its hard work, as much for concentration as physically, an your lucky to get into third gear, if your route plan insists you go through snow, make sure you have strong handguards, the last thing you want is a broken clutch lever! take care an have fun, the road goes ever on an on, rossa
It is difficult to give you advice as you have provided us with little information about your experience with snow and ice.
Watch out for black ice, the kind you can't see. Remember that ice t
doesn't only form after melted snow freezes or after rainfall freezes. It often forms on roads along lakes and rivers, or other places where mist often forms. Mist on the road freezes, creating ice so slippery you will have trouble standing on it. Riding on ice this slippery is hazardous at viryually any speed. Even at standstill you can tip over, but more importantly, get rear ended. Falling over in a left hand turn, even at the slowest of speeds, and you surely will slide into the opposite lane, smack and you were run over by a truck.
Now, if you have much experience with snow and ice from other means than riding a motorcycle, you understand the dangers and know how to read the signs, all you need is advice on riding technique and thechnical aspects. If you don't have this experience, you ought to know that a perfectly nice road can all of a sudden become extremely icy. Just above that hill, along that lake, along that flat open stretch of a road (windy), or around that bend, there might be black ice. Also, as you ride from one region to another, i.e. distance from the shore, change of altitude, north-south, east-west, valley, etc, road conditions in terms of ice and snow will likely be vastly different. A 15 minute ride from my home and I will experience totally different conditions. Be prepared, because it will hit you with surprise! Also, heavy snowfall and unploughed roads, especially on heavy trafficated roads, are extremely difficult to ride in. It creates conditions which may very well be worse than ice as it is far more unpredictable. I'd say that if you don't have any experience with snow and ice, get some practice before going on long trips on public roads, you can't get good at it by reading about it in a book or on a BBS.
Although I have ridden in the winter, I no longer do so. First of all it is too damn cold. Second of all it is a bit risky. I might still consider it on a longer trip, to get me from one place to another if it was the only option.
One tip of advice, you should allways listen to the traffic broadcast in the country you are in (have someone translate). These are usually broadcasted around rush hour. They will give warnings about slippery roads. With cars a slippery road warning means driving cautiously. With motorcycles, I'd say it means you should stay put and ride another day, meaning you some times would have to wait several days. Outside cities or in regions where people are much more familiar with snow and ice in their day to day driving, there usually won't be issued warnings. Asking about roadconditions further down the road every time you fill gas, or every chance you get, is good advice. Drivers coming from the direction you are heading can tell you if there are any changes in conditions you should be aware of. This is no guarantee though as conditions may quickly change.
lowering your tyre pressures for snow? what is the world coming to?
I did 100+ miles on my Kawasaki ZX9R in a variety of fresh and rutted ice. as someone said, the main thing is to BELIEVE you can do it. with snow falling on my iced up visor, it was somewhat blind faith, but it worked!
of course, knobblies etc on a big single are much more fun the street tyres on a street bike.
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