Riding in extreme cold can be a massive challenge HIDDEN DANGERS Damp and icy patches can linger under the shade of trees. Watch for ice around cat’s eyes – they often hold moisture
It will take much longer for your tyres to come up to optimum operating temperature, so be cautious over the first few miles. Race or track day tyres simply won’t work in freezing conditions, even if it’s dry. Feed the power in smoothly, brake gently and treat the road as if it’s slippery.
Cold hands won’t be able to operate the clutch and brake levers effectively. In extreme cases this can increase your stopping distances, or lead to a loss of control. Feeling cold will also affect your reaction times and cause rapid fatigue. Keep your core warm with heated clothing and multiple layers. Heated grips will help prevent your hands freezing.
Trees and cat’s eyes
Ice can lurk in shadows, especially in the morning as it’s not had the sun to thaw it. Cat’s eyes can hold water too, which freezes overnight and makes them even more of a hazard, especially in the mornings.
Hang back a little
Even in the dry your braking distances will be longer. The level of grip isn’t there from the front tyre, and your reaction times will be slower too. Give yourself more room to react to hazards ahead, and increase your stopping distances.
A few hundred miles in the middle of summer is easy but in winter it’s much more draining. Take regular breaks to keep warm, and schedule stops into your journey. Try not to push on through the cold. As soon as you start to feel uncomfortably cold, take a quick break. Short, repeated breaks are preferable to a huge defrost after a long journey.
In really cold temperatures, even in the dry and despite high speeds, your front tyre can remain very cool, especially if you are just cruising at speed, rather than repeatedly loading it with regular braking. Be aware of this when leaving the motorway and applying your brakes, as you might not have the grip you’re expecting. Also be aware that the tyre sidewalls will still be cold front and rear, so approach that first roundabout with caution. You might also find that your muscles have got colder than you think, robbing you of feel and response speed.
DON’T SLIP UP IN THE COLD
Take extra care on motorways as there may not be much gripgenerating heat in your front tyre
Adam Child MCN Senior Road Tester and year-round commuter from Yorkshire