For many, riding throughout winter can be just as much fun as any other time of year. All you need is the right gear to make sure that you are prepared for whatever the weather – and the roads – can throw at you. Here’s our top picks for essential winter gear for you and your motorcycle.
Essential winter motorcycling kit
1. Battery charger/maintainer
Winter is a bad time for motorcycle batteries u2013 the cold slows the chemical reaction that generates electricity and left alone, they can lose their charge quickly, particularly if the bike has a tracker on it. So when not in use, connect it to a charger/maintainer like this one from Optimate. It will charge and maintain the charge on the bike's battery and automatically sense if it uses a lead-acid or a lithium battery and charge accordingly. Fit and forgetu2026
2. Paddock stand
Whether you're storing your bike over winter or carrying on using it, if you haven't got a centre stand, then a paddock stand is invaluable to keep the bike upright and with the wheels off the ground. If storing, it will keep pressure off the tyres and prevent flat spots and if you're carrying on using it, then this will make chain cleaning and maintenance much easier. Choose either a universal fit like this Oxford example that lifts on the rear swing arm or one that use bobbins fitted to the bike and hooked levers.
3. Fuel stabiliser
While it's not as bad as it used to be, storing your bike for the winter with fuel in the tank can still be a no-no. The lighter components in petrol can evaporate, leaving the heavier elements to gum up carburettors or injectors, fuel pumps and even the tank or filters. If you're going to store your bike for a few months, then treat the fuel to a bottle of stabiliser, which will prevent it from deteriorating and leaving you with potential problems when you come to get the bike out again. At this point, it simply burns off in the engine.
4. Winter gloves
There's little worse than cold hands when riding a bike. Not only is it extremely uncomfortable, it can have safety implications thanks to a loss of feel for the controls and distract you when riding. The best scenario is a pair of heated gloves (see separate story) but in the meantime, these winter gloves from Weise are waterproof, windproof and breathable thanks to a Hipora membrane and have a Thinsulate lining to help keep your hands warm. I've used them and they really work.
5. Thermal socks
Just like cold hands, cold feet can affect comfort and safety, by reducing feel on the bike's controls and distracting you. If you're riding in winter, then your boots are already more than likely wind and waterproof but a little extra warmth is always nice. These Heat Holders are synthetic material (good if, like me, wool irritates your skin) and hold the heat in nicely. This three-pack is great value, at just over £7 per pair and they are my choice for cold weather rides.
6. Handlebar muffs
Insulating your hands completely from the elements that cause them to get wet or cold is an obvious way to improve your winter riding and these handlebar muffs will do just that. You fit them to the bar grips and insert your hands into a protected and dry environment. You still need to wear gloves u2013 obviously u2013 but these add a huge layer of protection from the elements. Some riders don't like them, as they find them constrictive but if you don't need to look at the controls, then they can be a great option for keeping hands warm and dry.
7. Battery jump pack
There's nothing more frustrating than getting kitted up ready for a ride u2013 whether commuting or for fun u2013 inserting the key, hitting the starter button and being rewarded with a clicking noise or no reaction at all. If you haven't got your bike hooked up to a charger when not in use, a jump pack, like this one from Ring, can get you going again when you need to. Just make sure you keep it charged up and you're ready to go.
8. Neck warmer
When the temperature drops, you want to keep cold air away from your skin and this tall neck warmer, with a deep section to sit inside the jacket over the chest and back, will do just that. A Gore-Tex membrane means it is windproof yet breathable to stop you overheating or getting sweaty and it will also help prevent water getting in. Breathable inserts on the face section also allow breath to escape without making the inside of the garment damp.
9. Base layers
These winter base layers from Alpinestars aren't cheap but they are very good at keeping you warm in the cold weather. I tested these u2013 and subsequently use them throughout winter u2013 and for me, they work on their own under a decent jacket down to around 0u00b0C. Some feel they get a little clammy but they have never proved an issue to me and the technical construction helps to support the muscles on long rides. My go-to cold-weather base layer.
10. Heated grips
If the weather is anything from a little chilly to really cold, a pair of heated grips can be a big benefit. They can turn three-season gloves into full-winter kit and boost the warmth of full winter gloves significantly, by keeping the palms of the hands and the inside of the fingers where you hold the grips warm. These grips are slick with an integrated control button, offer five temperature settings and they'll remember the last position they were in when you turn them back on.