I don’t own a car anymore. A few years ago, I made the decision to become a year-round, all-weather motorcyclist. Mentioning this inevitably surprises most people and instigates a few questions on how I go grocery shopping. My transition to this lifestyle came about mostly by trial and error. Whether it was for commuting, errand running, or weekend rides, there was a lot to adjust to, but I eventually found my way. These tips will help you make that transition to a car-less lifestyle too.
Prepare Your Body
This is a factor most do not consider. Wear earplugs every day. Riding weekdays and weekends (especially with a highway commute) can exacerbate hearing loss, which is both cumulative and nonreversible. Take a few extra seconds to sunscreen or protect exposed skin on your wrists and your neck. Wearing short gloves and a low collar jacket in southern Florida left me with never-ending, mild sunburn until I wised up to SPF35. Also, if you’re a sport bike rider, work on having adequate core strength to maintain good riding posture for your daily ride.
Prepare Your Mind
One of the quickest lessons to internalize is a willingness to accept some discomfort as part of the process. Every ride will no longer be on a lovely summer day with perfect temperatures and ideal road conditions. Some days will end up being downright miserable. When the ride turns less than brilliant, change your attitude and defy the weather. Sing as loudly as possible inside your helmet. Curse the rain gods. Change the route to your work/school/house if only to find new roads and keep from becoming complacent while riding. This has the added bonus of giving your brain something fresh so your attention stays sharp.
Prepare Your Bike
Heated Coax/SAE connections are cheap and easy to install for when they’re needed down the road. A powered USB line has multiple uses all in its own right; it can provide charging for phones, cameras, battery packs, and more. Luggage will help you out immensely in your day in, day out riding. Start tailoring a real tool kit to your bike’s needs. If you want to really go crazy on bike preparedness, you could even spring for an automatic tire pressure monitoring system, revise the ergonomics with a better seat/rearsets/handlebars, or in some cases buy a larger gas tank. There are so many modifications that are useful for year round riding it would take up several articles just to cover the basics.
Prepare Your Gear
Properly designed motorcycle winter gear makes all the difference in the world when the temperatures drop. Summer gear with liners and some thermal underwear still lets cold air in and robs you of warmth. Rain riding can end up being an absolute blast even with inexpensive Frogg Toggs. Most winter gear that you can purchase does double duty keeping you warm and dry. When you’re on extended trips in the cold, nothing works quite as well as heated liners. For any season of riding, consider wearing ATGATT. It may end up requiring extra time, money, and inconvenience, but it’s worth the alternative.