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The winter guide to motorcycle riding in France and the U.K.

December 12, 2012

motorcycle-stuck-in-snowJack Frost is swiftly on his way into France and the United Kingdom, throwing little flu parcels at everyone and making sure that the ground is as slippery as possible. While drivers are abandoning their cars left, right and centre, the savvy two-wheeled warrior can still ride through the winter streets so long as they are careful. The last thing you want is to have a mishap right before Christmas and spend the holidays having that conversation with your motorbike insurance company (if you can even get through to them; the Christmas season is incredibly busy). It’s best to avoid damage to yourself and your bike where possible, so here are some tips to riding out the winter in style.

Winter gear

It doesn’t matter how tough you think you are; if you go riding in the dead of winter with your summer leathers you’re going to feel more than a twinge of cold. Your winter riding kit should give you added water resistance and insulation without compromising on protection. This is especially important for your hands since they’re one of the first parts of your body to feel the cold (and you don’t want to lose sensation to the part that controls the bike!). Gauntlets are even better as they stop water getting into the gloves and improve airflow, so your hands aren’t cold but neither do they sweat.

With the days getting shorter, it’s a good idea to make yourself as visible as possible since you’re likely to be riding in the dark. Reflective clothing will help increase your visibility when riding during the dark mornings, making sure that other motorists are aware of you on the road.

Taking care of your bike

A biker is only as good as their machine, so you’ll need to keep your bike in tip-top condition so that it purrs like a kitten. There’s an urban legend that reducing your tyre pressure will give you more grip when riding through snow and ice. Don’t do this; not only is it dangerous but it’s also quite illegal. It’s much safer to ensure that your tyres are inflated according to the recommended pressure given by the manufacturer.

Also, remember to clean your lights regularly so they are giving you as much visibility as possible. Give your lights and mirrors a wipe down before each journey to remove debris and dirt.

Riding tips

The roads are going to be wet, and they’re going to be slippery. Whereas your stopping distance is twice as long as normal on a wet road, when it comes to snow and ice it’s going to be ten times as long, so allow for plenty of time when stopping to minimise road spray and to limit the risk of losing control.

The winter season is going to throw all kinds of nastiness at you – sudden winds, poor visibility, heavy snowfall and pedestrians that are too busy bracing against the cold to notice a motorcycle nearby. Take it easy when you ride and be extra cautious so you have more time to adapt and react to whatever curveballs the weather throws at you.

Lastly, don’t forget to keep a thermos of tea in your pannier. A winter rider can’t function properly without a nice cup of tea.

Jamie Gibbs is the resident blogger for motorcycle insurance comparison site Confused.com. His first experience on a motorbike was while riding pillion, where he accidentally sat on the exhaust. It took him a few months to work up the courage to try again.

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s proposed introduction of a compulsory annual environmental and road safety test for motorcycles and their continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations contre la proposition du gouvernement d’introduire un controle technique pour les 2 roues motorises ansi que de continuer a empecher la circulation inter files pour les motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France bikers.com, please contact us here.

Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

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One Comment
  1. Plastivore permalink

    Whilst I really appreciate this post, I think it fails to point out the obvious, which is, of course, that as soon as there is snow or ice we should just avoid riding a bike.

    I understand I sound like a moralising know-it-all from the Sécurité Routière, but I truly believe that this is worth taking into account.

    Kudos to the site, though! I’m a French expat living in the UK, and really appreciate your posts.

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