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Thread: Extreme Cold Weather Riding

  1. #1
    http://www.rd400racer.com rd400racer's Avatar
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    Extreme Cold Weather Riding

    I am challenging myself to ride year round. Gear isn't an issue..have that covered. I'm worried more about the bike. I rode in today (high 20's) and when I went out again about 4 hours later my battery had definetly lost some juice and it's fairly new. I have a Yuasa tender and where I work we have a warehouse that I can slip the bike into. Mainly this got me thinking....is there some kind of chart as to how much battery efficiancy you lose per hour as your bike sits outside in certain temps?

    I realize upper twenties isn't THAT cold. I'm thinking more about a couple months from now when we hit single digits or lower.

    Also, can you use a tender too much (such as plugging in every night)?
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  2. #2
    What, me worry? GILLY's Avatar
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    Didn't know it got that cold in KY!
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  3. #3
    Nickname: Droid
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    Be very cautious with cold tires! I found out the hard way. About two years ago I took a customer for a demo ride, him on a used K12LT and me on my 94 R1100RS. About 35 degrees out in late November, bike was sitting outside the shop all day on a cloudy dry Saturday. Took my usual demo ride route.

    About four miles from the shop (all straight, no turns) I banked into an easy right hander at a intersection in a rural area. I did it about 15mph slower than I usually do, and AWAAAY goes the front tire like it was on packed snow. I low-sided my bike! No damage to me, scuffs on my riding jacket and pants, scratches on the RH valve cover and saddlebag. Picked the bike up and rode it back to the shop.

    The turn was completely clean, and I studied it closely looking for clues. Back at the shop, about an hour later, I checked the front tire with an infared sensor, and it read 27 degrees though the air temp was 35. I rode the bike on the same route again. When I got to the turn I pulled over and checked again. 55 degrees on the center of the tire, 27 DEGREES OFF CENTER where the tire leaned over on the contact patch.

    So, on cold days, allow ten miles of riding to heat the tires before expecting near normal traction. Also, drop your tire pressures about five to ten psi. Coldest I have ridden, temps wise is 17 degrees in January, 1/2 hour ride to work at highway speeds.

  4. #4
    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    Batteries do lose some efficiency in cold weather, but that should not be too much of a factor with a healthy battery. Oil gets thick, synthetic flows noticeably easier in cold which helps cranking. Pull in the clutch so it's not turning the transmission too. Don't push your luck below freezing, 2 wheelers are utterly worthless on ice. (guess which bike I've been riding this week)
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  5. #5
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Watch out for frost on the roads in shady spots.
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  6. #6
    Bluenoser
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    Heat is more of a problem with batteries than cold. Change your oil to a viscosity level ( check your manual ) that is recommended for the temps you are riding in.

    If its below 32 F or 0 C and you are trying to start the bike with 20-50 weight oil, you are asking for problems.

    Seeing as the bike is stored inside, and if you had access to an electrical plug you could plug your battery tender in while the bike is sitting. With lighter oil & the battery on tender it certainly shouldn't have any trouble starting.
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    The best tip is to use 5W40 rotella syn. Change in the spring when nights are in the 40 to 15W50 or 20W50.

    There is no law that says you can not remove the filter and dump the oil, refill and reinstall as long as it does not have 6 to 8 K miles on it.

    Odyssey battery is the next thing. Wow it is strong.

    Rod

  8. #8
    http://www.rd400racer.com rd400racer's Avatar
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    Good point about the oil. That never crossed my mind. I do have a fairly new Odyssey. And I'm keeping a good feel on tire grip. Black ice does give me the heebies.

    It actually gets pretty dang cold in Kentucky for a couple of months. Single digit and colder is not uncommon.
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    2001 Ducati Monster; 1996 R1100GS; 1985 RZ350; 1977 RD400

  9. #9
    Still Wondering mika's Avatar
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    At one point I went 28 months riding to work at least one day every month along with other riding. The temperature range in that time was -7?? to +113?? F.

    I plug my Roadster into a battery tender every night. No problems with that so far. Oil does make a big difference, along with a decent tune. Give the bike and, as previously pointed out, tires a chance to warm up and assume they will stay on the cold side for the duration of your ride.

    Start making every trip on your bike, car, bus, walking or camel a recon trip. Where does water collect on your routes? What are the spots where you may anticipate black ice? Where is your route exposed to cross winds? The list can go on. The point is make yourself aware, anticipate, store the information in your noggin and use it.

    Encountering ice/black ice is a bit like hitting sand unexpectedly. Don't underestimate the importance of your riding gear. Does it keep you warm enough; more importantly can you move in it. A cold stiff rider is as hazardous to a safe ride as cold stiff tires.

    Check out http://www.yearroundriders.com/index.htm. I have not been there in some time. The Rounders site has some words of wisdom and a good bunch of people that can give you some sound advice for cold weather riding.
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  10. #10
    Mind is not for rent
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    I haven't owned a BMW through the winter yet, but I've done it for years on my UJMs and Harleys. Assuming your gear is up to it, the biggest thing you need to think about is warmup for the bike. Yes, you want to let it idle longer in order to get the oil flowing well through the motor and let the moving parts get some heat in them, but be aware that the rest of the bike needs that too, and that only happens when you're underway. Transmissions are balky as hell until the fluid warms up. Tires are like slippery bricks until the tread heats up. Do not reduce tire pressure thinking that'll heat the tires up quickly; cold pressure is cold pressure, no matter how cold it is.

    And then there's fork and shock fluid. Between the brick-like tires and molasses-like suspension fluid, the first few miles of seriously cold riding are going to be less than comfortable.

    Allow at least 20 minutes to get everything up to operating temperature and you're good-to-go. Keep in mind that you're still going to have less traction due to the cold, but otherwise ride as normal.

  11. #11
    Norm Norms 427's Avatar
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    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norms 427 View Post
    Black ice episode at 01:45:
    That's just ice, easy to see. Black ice is tough to see, as is frost in the shade.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, AND LOOKING FORWARD TO 2014!

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  13. #13
    http://www.rd400racer.com rd400racer's Avatar
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    Damn Norm, that's a nasty spill you took there. I know for sure if there is snow on the ground I will more than likely take the truck to work.


    My daily commute is only 20 miles one way. When I left this morning it was 25 and my vest hardly gets a chance to warm up by the time I'm there. I just enjoy the peacefulness of riding my bike in at 6am.
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    Registered User amiles's Avatar
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    I know that I sound like someone's mother speaking,

    Why take an unnecessary risk?


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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by rd400racer View Post
    Damn Norm, that's a nasty spill you took there. I know for sure if there is snow on the ground I will more than likely take the truck to work.


    My daily commute is only 20 miles one way. When I left this morning it was 25 and my vest hardly gets a chance to warm up by the time I'm there. I just enjoy the peacefulness of riding my bike in at 6am.
    ah, i don't think that was Norm's crash, just a vid he posted. he doesn't list a Victory vision among his bikes, and he lives in WA, not Tucson area.
    that guy was lucky- loafers, dress slacks, and fingerless gloves. probably just a half helmet as well. yeah, anything that looks wet or dark in cold weather is suspect, and worth missing.
    22 was my low temp in this morning, but it will be mid-50s going home.
    for winter riding, i tend to stay much more vertical than normal, so as to avoid going fully horizontal.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

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