Cold Weather Riding

Cold Weather Riding

By the Russ Brown Team, Photo by Barry Hathaway

This time of year, many riders, including our affiliate attorneys in Northern parts of the U.S. are faced with the depressing hassle of prepping their bikes for storage over the winter.   Lucky us…at our Headquarters in SoCal, we don’t have to worry about that –we get to ride all year!  But now that the glorious days of summer are winding down, it’s a good idea to review some tips for riding in inclement weather and prepare for the changing Fall/Winter riding season.  We asked the experienced riders who make up the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys Team for their personal checklist and here are their tried and true tips, with a few chuckles toward the end.


• Make sure you have winter appropriate tires for your area. Finish burning off those summer sticky buns and put on some all-weather tires.

• Maintain proper tire pressure.  Improperly filled tires can affect stop time, traction and wear – costing you hard earned dollars and decreasing your chances of avoiding an accident.

• After a summer full of riding, make sure all services are up-to-date including oil changes, brake and clutch fluid, coolant etc.

• Thoroughly clean and adjust chain if you have one and apply appropriate chain lube or chain wax.

• Clean, lube and adjust all cables, levers, pedals, etc.

• Lube any remaining lubrication points.

• Thoroughly clean bike and apply good protective products such as wax on the painted surfaces, anti-corrosion on the metal services, etc.

• Check all lighting including high and low beam, brake lights and turn signals.

• Check condition of battery and charging circuits. Cold weather is tougher on these especially if you use heated riding gear.

• Depending on how much you ride during the fall and winter, get a proper battery maintenance charger/ trickle charger/tender and use it.

  Inspect your brake pads.

• Thoroughly clean your bike after riding in foul weather to prevent bigger problems down the road.

•If you prefer, many dealers offer winterizing and cold weather storage, too.


Riding wet and cold is not only miserable, it is dangerous.

• Get proper riding gear, including waterproof gloves, boots, jacket, pants and a rain suit if necessary, etc.

• Condition all leather items, new or used, each season with a rain repellent product to renew water resistance, including boots.

• Check your helmet for damage, cracks, or wear and tear.

• Use an appropriate anti fog product or insert for your helmet face shield or goggles/glasses.  It sucks to be blind!


Riding in bad weather is certainly do-able, but not for novices.  If you are a new rider and know nothing about bikes, leave it to the pros.  If you have to ride in bad winter weather, plan for the pitfalls.  Be prepared and ride to your abilities!

• Be particularly careful on any painted surface on the roadway such as crosswalks, lane stripes, etc.  These have very low traction, making it very easy to have the bike slide out from under you.

• Allow greater distance for stopping in low traction, wet conditions.  Add a car length or two or three to your trailing distance.

• Be much smoother with any action including acceleration, braking, turning, lean angle etc.  This will help to minimize the chance of going down.

• Be mindful of road conditions. Watch out for damp spots, pot holes, road erosion, wet leaves, little trickle springs of water across the road, etc.  If conditions are less than ideal, it’s always smarter to slow down and proceed with extra caution.   You’ve seen riders lock up the front brake, turn the throttle and let the back tire spin in wet leaves for fun…a reminder of just how dang slippery they are!

• Choose to stop under overpasses in pouring rain, but make sure you are visible.  Leave your lights on and pull to the side. You don’t want to be rear ended.

• In traffic, always leave yourself an exit path between lanes in anticipation of an unexpected emergency or fast stop.

• Communicate your intentions with proper signals, brake light, and lane position, well ahead of a move.


Lane-split in California only when it is safe to do so, and always moderate your speed.  Yes, your bike handles superbly and you may have exceptional riding skills, but it is easy to forget how vulnerable you are to careless operators in a larger vehicle.  Distracted drivers are everywhere, so don’t travel too fast while splitting (CHP guideline is +10 mph to slower traffic) and always watch for signs that someone is not paying attention or cannot be trusted…commonly:

• drifting in lane

• driving erratically

• driver is animated (looking or moving around, gesturing)

• driver head down or cocked (sleepy, inebriated)

• blinker is onnnnn

• a phone call, makeup job or meal is in progress

  car shows dings, dents, or evidence of previous crashes

When confronted with an offending or aggressive driver, even if justified, don’t provoke someone in a vehicle, report them instead!


Here are a few other humorous tips from personal experience riding in extreme conditions.

  If you get stuck on the freeway in snow, make sure both feet are down & out like skis so you can keep the bike up

• Use the hand dry air blowers at rest stops to warm your hands…

• Stick your hands on the cylinder heads at full stops. Every little bit helps.

And in all kinds of weather, carry your BAM card!  You never know when you might need a little help from a fellow rider at 1-800-4Bikers.

Joining BAM (Breakdown & Legal Assistance for Motorcyclists) is easy, visit