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Driving through the winter

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  • argonsagas
    I have never used heated anything on a bike. I did buy grip heaters for the GK, but they did not get installed as I did not ride it much after I bought a Bandit 12 and quickly learned Bandits do NOT like snow or ice.

    When I was a child I had my hands/fingers frozen multiple times (also feet/toes and ears) and since then they chill out quickly, even at temperatures of 10C/50F

    Still, when I had no car, I would dress for it and ride all winter at temperatures down to 0F/-18C. We seldom get below that in the Toronto area.

    Leather or something else to stop wind from the legs, as well as the rest of your body, is vital

    Layer your clothing to provide insulation. You can remove some of it if you feel too warm, but do that in a wind=sheltered area only.

    A windshield is a huge benefit, although it does not help legs. The windshield provides an immense safety benefit (depending on speed) as it allows snow to blow over your head and gives a much clearer field of vision

    Full face helmet is the only way to go....while wearing a bubble shield on a 3/4 helmet I had my cheeks frozen so hard at about -2 F you could literally knock on them. I could not open my mouth to talk for some time after getting home.

    A neck shield/scarf is really helpful. A full covering for face and neck such as a balaclava is even better, but may make your helmet tight.

    Block treads are FAR better on snow than standard summer-type treads. They provide a huge help on snow....I think the maximum I ever rode in was six inches but 2 to 4 inches was common.
    No matter which tires you have on your bike, check tire pressures often......cold affects them negatively both in pressure and in traction, as they afford less traction on pavement when cold..

    Good quality mitts are definitely better than gloves, even the two-finger split ones, as all your hand is in one air pocket.
    For additional insulation, you can wear thin gloves inside them.

    I tried the Vetter Hippo Hands but had problems getting them to fit, as was mentioned.
    They do work pretty well, but you can get a backdraft that will chill the wrist, so you need something to block that from happening.

    On GS bikes the electrical systems tend to be fragile and yours may not support the extra load of heated bars and clothing. Battery is probably a safer bet, and keep spares handy.

    Remember, also.....speed makes a significant difference. Wind chill is VERY real.

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  • Wingsconsin
    Tourmaster has several Battery Operated choices for Vest /jacket Liners and Heated Gloves (7V)

    Revzilla / Dennis Kirk / Amazon are all places to purchase these.

    I own a a pair of Joe Rocket gloves *battery* and they work plenty well and a short ride would be fine -

    I wore them home one day from Chicago (about 125 miles from me) and was warm all the way - I stopped once to change to fresh batteries about 1/2 way .

    Owning 2 sets of batterys helps a lot - but for a short ride it shouldn't be a problem

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  • bwringer
    If it's not icy, you can stand just about any temps with proper gear and prep. I once rode to work at -17F just to see if I could. About five miles.

    Three miles is a pretty easy walk, so that's always a perfectly good option.

    Don't take chances with ice and snow; your family needs you.

    A GS may not have enough electrical capacity to run electric clothing like heated grips and maybe gloves, especially if there's much stop and go. If you go this route, make sure you have a volt meter and your charging system is in tiptop shape. You might be able to run a vest if it's all highway. Or look into battery powered heated clothing; charge it up at home and you should easily be able to get back and forth to work.

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  • Gorminrider
    "Pinlock" visor is a must for me on a full-face helmet but there are antifog condiments to try too. Or open the visor a tiny crack...some helmets have thoughtfully put their detentes to not open too wide.
    Or pick up a 3/4 helmet and a neck-dicky or balaclava that pulls over your chin. You will want a separate over-sized winter helmet to suit the fit of a balaclava if this is your life long term.
    (I'm quite pleased with my mitten mod tried yesterday.T'was just a ground frost but a big improvement over the winter gloves and no worse flexibly.)
    Last edited by Gorminrider; 11-11-2021, 12:01 PM.

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  • 650Skull
    Another consideration when getting ready is to put your boots and leggings on. Start the bike and let it idle while you put the rest of the gear on and strap any gear to the bike. Even 3 or 4 min idling will warm the oil a bit.............if you find that it still needs to warm up a bit longer start the bike before putting the bike gear and boots on.

    some perspective

    3 miles
    If you average 20mph the journey will take 8.5 min

    If you average 30mph the journey will take 6 min.

    If you average 50mph the journey will take 3.3 min.

    In cold, (i consider cold weather to be frosty mornings at least), looking at that graph the bike needs to be started before putting on your gear.

    And as Rich mentions the bike needs to have a good run regularly to top up the battery and to get the oil nice and hot to burn off any condensation that will collect in the sump due to short rides where the engine wont get to operating temperature..........

    Of course you can always do a few extra miles on the way home when the weather is favorable. Also means you can spend that time on family duties on the weekend if you wife needs,win
    Last edited by 650Skull; 11-10-2021, 07:28 PM.

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  • RichDesmond
    Originally posted by Wingsconsin View Post
    ...Heck - the bike won't even warm up before you get home
    Originally posted by 650Skull View Post
    3 mile is nothing in cold weather the bike will just be warming up. Using heated vests and gloves could be problematic for the bike. If you in stop go traffic the charging system will have trouble keeping up due to low revs....
    These are good points. One thing the 1000S taught me, since it has an oil temp gauge, it how surprisingly long is takes for an air cooled engine to fully warm up in cooler weather. 30 minutes or more.
    And short runs and cold temps are tough on batteries too.
    So it will be a really good idea to take the bike out on a little longer ride every week or two, when you catch a day that's warm enough.

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  • Big Block
    I rode this one when it was new in 73. Beginning of March to end of November. Always expecting water patches on the road from melting snow to be frozen. Old habits may be why I'm still alive today.
    Attached Files

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  • 650Skull
    3 mile is nothing in cold weather the bike will just be warming up. Using heated vests and gloves could be problematic for the bike. If you in stop go traffic the charging system will have trouble keeping up due to low revs.

    A quality set of thermals/longjohns, a good leather jacket, (big enough that you can wear your thermals and another layer or 2 of a lined shirt/jacket with a good woolen jersey.

    Here is a pic of me and my ride, (back in 96 as i live in the tropics now), when i was in New Zealand. The rain gear kept out the wind and rain, (worst wet ride was 2 hours in the pouring rain and speeds got real low at times due to visibility), and water had gone down the front and i didn't notice it till i got to my destination.

    Done a lot of rides starting early morning with frosts on the ground and the gear was good enough that i felt the cold, (definatly not an issue), but it never got into the bones as the wind never got through the gear...........if wind gets trough it ups the chill factor.

    If your 3 miles is on an open road then you will be there in no time and the gear will be more than sufficient.
    scan0006 copyright.jpg
    those gloves were army surplus German army with a lining. Water would get through and they did get uncomfortable but again, my hands never got cold enough that it was a problem. I had a thick silk scarf that was great for my neck but these days a thermal balaclava or neck guard and definitely a full face helmet

    a good set of gauntlet gloves that cover the sleeve opening and heated grips as a min, (wont draw much from the battery), will up the comfort.

    It comes down to how much you are going to spend as well.

    A good shield will help immensely.

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  • Wingsconsin
    FIRST - WINDSCREEN - the longer the better - keep that core warm -

    Get these Wrap Chaps for your legs --
    Easy to use - and they work for me down to 25 degrees - Colder than that I take the car

    Get a heated jacket liner (sleeves) and the gloves -

    A balaclava or at least a headband worn around your neck
    A Full face helmet will be great as well

    Most of this you can do on a budget - Check Cycle Gear for the heated gear

    3 miles is doable anytime you can get enough traction to stay upright

    Heck - the bike won't even warm up before you get home

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  • Gorminrider
    Noreg, that was my question too- how to get them on so they don't interfere... it seems tricky or awfully bulky getting them over and around the master cylinder and mirrors. I gave up a plan of making some...and went on to an idea (that I dropped) of just making a kind of wind-screen/bark buster to keep the wind off- It's that wind that chills my fingers, especially on the front-facing tips.

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  • RichDesmond
    Originally posted by Myweirdaccent View Post
    Without boring you to much with details, here's some abbreviated backstory:

    Wife has had chronic medical issues since giving birth last year not covered by health insurance.
    We have one minivan due to having 2 kids)
    I have my 82 gs650l, I've had it for almost 10 years.
    We live in western Texas where winters are usually mild, last year being the exception with snowmageddon.

    I had planned on putting the bike away for the winter to go through the carbs and do some other maintenance. However it seems that i will have to ride it through the winter.

    What if anything can i do to make winter driving safer/more enjoyable?
    Fit w context i live about 3 miles from work.

    Thanks for any tips!
    3 miles shouldn't be much of a problem.
    I spent 4 years with only a bike in Albuquerque back in the 80's. Part of that time I lived about 3 miles from work. Mostly just rode in, didn't have any special gear other than some insulated Caster gloves. A set of coveralls is helpful, just wear layers under that. Good waterproof insulated boots. Neck gaiter is a good idea. Have a good rainsuit. If there was snow or ice I walked, took less than an hour each way.
    I worked in sales at the time, so I was in a suit and tie. Put dress shoes in backpack, swapped when I got to work.

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  • Noreg
    Originally posted by Kiwi Canuck View Post
    Someone else mentioned Hippo hands, I'm going to get some for my new DR650, even with heated grips my hands get cold, so I'm going to try them out.
    I ride with some off brand hippo hands. They work pretty well. Took some time to get used to, and it makes it hard to wave at other riders, so you have to do the head nod instead. Mine is probably less sturdy than the hippo hands, but easier because mirrors get in the way.

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  • xkaes
    A lot depends on if you live closer to Alpine or El Paso.

    In either case, NOAA (NOT the Farmer's Almanac) predicts a La Nina Winter with very little precipitation in the SW US -- and warmer that average temperatures.

    The worst you will have to deal with is the cold, but like I said, a lot depends on if you live closer to Alpine or El Paso.

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  • Kiwi Canuck
    Someone else mentioned Hippo hands, I'm going to get some for my new DR650, even with heated grips my hands get cold, so I'm going to try them out.

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  • mikerophone
    Those split mittens are pretty great, nice mod as well.

    As others have said, bundle up, but you still need to move, and yes rain gear is an essential, nice thing you have a short ride. I swear by good quality wool thermal long underwear and the frog toggs brand rain gear, and I got some cheap rain covers for my boots that worked a treat.

    A windshield makes a big difference too, and be careful of cross draft side winds and painted lines, especially on corners when wet - same as when it rains.

    Now that I live in San Diego itís not a problem and I ride every day but when I spent two winters in Chicago I still tried to ride every day it wasnít snowing (35 miles, mostly freeway) and I switched to my other GS (f800gs adventure) for winter riding and am fortunate to have heated grips, big block tires, ABS and traction control. I added some burly brush guards to block the wind and eventually some bare muffs that I had to modify a bit. Was nice because then I could wear a smaller glove, which was needed because the controls were a bit tight inside those mitts!

    A mild December day:

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