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Thread: Riding on ice, snow, in the midwest, or anywhere for that matter

  1. #1
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    Question Riding on ice, snow, in the midwest, or anywhere for that matter

    Other than riding a bike that has been set up for ice racing, I would like to know how my BMW friends ride in the colder months often with snow and ice on the roads.

    Call me chicken if you will, but please share your techniques.

    I mean it really looks cool to post your pics of the bikes on snow covered roads, on tour, and so forth.

    How do you keep the pucker factor controllable?

    What techniques to you employ to deal with black ice?
    "What is beautiful is simple, and what is simple always works"....Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47.
    Currently bikeless, but looking hard! "Center yourself in the vertizontal. Ride a motorcycle...namaste' "

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    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    There's nothing you can do on black ice, or ice of any nature. Even knobby tires like the pics I recently posted on the LA to Vegas ride in the mountain snow is not doable. Ice is ice. There are the extreme frozen lake riders who use studded tires, but that isn't really what you're talking about.

    On good paved roads through snow, riding is riding when it's dry. Really no different than warm temps. I've crossed the Smoky summits many times with snow all around, no big deal.

    When the roads have snow, it's still not a big deal. You actually get decent traction on snow. I'm talking going slow, standing on pegs to keep the COG low, and no big deal. I don't like following the 'slot' made by a rider in front, but do better on my own virgin snow path.

    If there is ice under the snow, it's trickier, but again, the snow helps.

    Finally, there are summit roads with patches of ice. My buddy and I were crossing the Cherohaula following some Harleys. They were maybe 100 feet in front. Suddenly, both went down, boom. It was ice for maybe 100 feet on the summit. We slowed to a crawl and duck-paddled across it. It was tough, and it was scary. But we made it.

    There are techniques like letting some air out of your tires, but really, I'd say that you need to avoid ice, period. You have to keep your eyes open and slow down if you see ice. But, if you hit ice at speed, and especially in a corner, you're going down, period, in a low side. If you're not going too fast, no big deal, you pick up and keep on trucking. But no one posts those pictures!

    Snow is OK, ice puts you down.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '05 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  3. #3
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    I enjoy year round riding, and it's easy to do with the right gear, such as layers, heated clothing, etc. However, I never intentionally ride on snow covered or icy roads. Even if I'm lucky enough to keep the rubber side down, the cagers out there have terrible control in those conditions, leaving me very vulnerable. I will even scout routes in a cage before going out on the bike to make sure I won't encounter black ice or snow drifted across the road.
    Dan

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    just hangin' out 2bikemike's Avatar
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    Even when people post pictures of themselves on top of some mountain pass with snow and ice all around them, I suspect they REALLY didn't want to be in that position. They just found themselves there. If you can't walk on ice you surely can't ride a bike on it.
    keep it light enough to travel.....
    '04 R1150RT
    '81 Honda CB650 Custom

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    Novice Adventurer Newstar's Avatar
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    Whenever I've ridden in those conditions, I didn't set out to do so.

    We cut short an October vacation a few years ago due to bad weather. We found ourselves coming over the mountains in snow and sleet. While the heated gear kept us warm, it was still nerve wracking.

    If this situation occurs, we stick to well travelled roads or highways where it's more likely to have just a wet road surface. And as much of a no-brainer as you would think it to be....SLOW DOWN.

  6. #6
    just hangin' out 2bikemike's Avatar
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    Here's what it'll get 'ya .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QUJaJMGrwo
    keep it light enough to travel.....
    '04 R1150RT
    '81 Honda CB650 Custom

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    Registered User ANDYVH's Avatar
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    Be VERY aware that cold temps mean cold tires for a lot more miles than you think. Just because the air temp may be in the low 40's does not mean your tires are warm enough for our usual summer riding style.

    I found this out last November when cold tires resulted in a low-side when I asked a bit more than my tires could provide on a totally clean, but cold easy turn from one two lane highway to another.

    For cold weather riding you can lower the air pressure a good five psi. And allow a minimum of ten miles of highway speed riding to heat the tires sufficiently to ask anything near normal traction for cornering.

  8. #8
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2BikeMike View Post
    Even when people post pictures of themselves on top of some mountain pass with snow and ice all around them, I suspect they REALLY didn't want to be in that position. They just found themselves there. If you can't walk on ice you surely can't ride a bike on it.
    I've mentally gone back over the last half dozen times or so I've been in ice and snow on a bike and the above applies to each one!

    You can't beat a dry paved road going THROUGH snow covered ground!
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '05 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

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    Talking OK, but...

    Here in the northern midwest we often have situations where the main roads, arterials, and highways are nice to ride. But the local streets (and driveways) are still icy in "blotches"(for the lack of a better word).

    At my skill level, I think prudence is the operative word, and I will wait until April.

    Call me over cautious, but bikes (and bodies) are expensive to fix.

    I am still curious though on what the "Rounders" think of all this.
    "What is beautiful is simple, and what is simple always works"....Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47.
    Currently bikeless, but looking hard! "Center yourself in the vertizontal. Ride a motorcycle...namaste' "

  10. #10
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    Sure, yeah, you can do it easily on snow, but ice is a real pain. I can't believe I've not dumped the RT at least twice on ice. If you plan to ride ice/snow a lot, you need a beater bike.
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '05 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  11. #11
    Registered User Bob_M's Avatar
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    A few years ago on a December Saturday it struck me as a good idea to ride north into Washington to check on a project. The day was dry and the temperatues were above freezing. I had the heated grips, electric vest and insulating layers inside my Stich to keep me comfortably warm. I was just toodling up the interstate, knowing that ice could be lurking on back roads in the shadows of trees.
    About a half hour into the ride the road descended into the flood plain of the Lewis River. There was localized and heavy fog in this basin, so it seemed prudent for me to get into the right lane and slow down. When I gave a little throttle during the lane change the rear wheel just spun without resistance. The fog was the manifestation of a localized frost pocket and the road that appeared wet was actually black ice. I rode to the next onramp on the shoulder in second gear as smoothly as I could, turned around and went home. It was a profoundly unpleasant experience and I was reluctant to get back on the motorcycle for a couple of months after that.

  12. #12
    God? What god? roborider's Avatar
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    I also think any dedicated Winter rider WILL go down eventually, and likely repeatedly. Not a big deal with ATGATT and low speed, but I agree that losing traction on ice is really scary. You really have no control and you can't do anything but hang on and hope it goes well, which it often doesn't!
    Rob C. , Raleigh, NC
    '05 R12RT, R90/6
    2007 CBR600RR & 09 V-Star
    Suzuki DR 350

  13. #13
    2 kids = 1 sidecar angysdad's Avatar
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    Ultracyclist wrote...please share your techniques...

    ...SIDECAR.
    Big D
    '85 K100/EML

  14. #14
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ANDYVH View Post
    Be VERY aware that cold temps mean cold tires for a lot more miles than you think. Just because the air temp may be in the low 40's does not mean your tires are warm enough for our usual summer riding style.
    A BIG +1 on this!
    I have a TPMS that besides measuring pressure, also measures the inside temp of the tires. In summer riding, I can watch my tires heat up to a bit over 100F or so rather quickly.. at 40F - it can take many miles at speed for them to even reach 70F.

    There is a big difference in tire traction depending on temperature - many tires are made to be sticky when hot, and really are not at all good when cold.
    I found this out last November when cold tires resulted in a low-side when I asked a bit more than my tires could provide on a totally clean, but cold easy turn from one two lane highway to another.

    For cold weather riding you can lower the air pressure a good five psi. And allow a minimum of ten miles of highway speed riding to heat the tires sufficiently to ask anything near normal traction for cornering.
    One comment on tire pressure and cold tires:

    Due to the small volume in a bike tire - a drop from 70F ("normal" tire fill temperature) and 40F can result in a drop of 10-20% in measured pressure. When the tires finally reach 70F again - the pressures will be correct.

    The lesson here - don't automatically assume you're low on pressure if you measure tire pressure on COLD tires. Mine will read 3-4 PSI lower when at 40F then at 70F (without any air adjustment.)

    BMW's built in TPMS compensates for temperature on the display (it will indicate "normal" pressure over a wide range of tire temperatures by compensating for cold or hot tires..) Mine is a bit more informative (shows actual pressure and temps) but requires understanding of what it's telling me.
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  15. #15
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoboRider View Post
    I also think any dedicated Winter rider WILL go down eventually, and likely repeatedly. Not a big deal with ATGATT and low speed, but I agree that losing traction on ice is really scary. You really have no control and you can't do anything but hang on and hope it goes well, which it often doesn't!
    Think sidecar. Had a friend back in the 70's - had a Honda 750 with a hack attached for winter use. He always rode - weather didn't matter. Didn't go down, once in a while he would get stuck though.. (no traction for the rear wheel.)
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

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