Can You Ride a Motorcycle in the Snow?

Optimum year-round motorcycle riding conditions don’t exist everywhere. In some places, harsh snowy weather makes riding a greater challenge than the norm.

Rding motorcycle in snow

Snow presents some interesting challenges not only in controlling a motorcycle, but also handling the cold, wet conditions on the saddle. Here are a few things you should know if you're going to attempt to ride a motorcycle in the snow.

How to Ride a Motorcycle in the Snow

Riding in the snow starts by assessing the snow itself. Fresh, unpacked snow is much different to ride than packed snow. We’ll start with fresh snow, since it’s generally easier to ride on.

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Riding a Motorcycle on Fresh Snow

If you’re one of the first people on a road after it snows, it’ll be easier to travel. Fresh snow can be compacted, squeezing into the grooves of a tire and helping with traction

Can you ride a motorcycle in snow

But don’t throw caution to the wind. There can be a layer of ice underneath the snow where it melted to the road before sticking and freezing onto the surface. Also, puffy, fresh snow can hide medians and other obstacles that can cause accidents.

Riding a Motorcycle on Packed Snow

This type of road presents more challenges. Imagine a snowy road where lots of cars have already packed down the snow and cut tracks into it. 

Motorcycle riding in snow

You may be tempted to get your bike’s wheels into the tracks made by another vehicle, but that’s not always the best choice. Compacted snow can be like ice if there’s no give in it to allow your motorcycle’s tire treads to work. And sometimes, a tire track will freeze up once it gets packed down, making it difficult to escape it. 

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However, if most of the machines that passed through have four or more wheels, it could leave a strip of fresh snow in the middle of the road. And that’s the place to ride. Just be extra careful when turning and crossing over packed car tire tracks.

Riding a Motorcycle in Slush

After sand and salt do their job, the slush comes next. The good news here is motorcycle tires can often cut through slush and find the road’s surface. But still, any surface that didn’t get treated by sand or salt can create black ice. 

Motorcycle riding in snow slush black ice

Controlling Your Motorcycle in Winter Weather

Torque can lead to spinning tires, and the way to deal with that is to ride in the highest gear possible to keep the torque from breaking the drive wheel loose. Try pulling away from traffic signals and stop signs in second gear, and work the clutch to let it slip a little. Doing so helps dampen some of the bike’s torque.

Motorcycle riding on snowy road

As for the brakes, steering, and throttle, resist hard braking, snap the handlebar in turns, and stab at the throttle. Also, stay seated so your legs can help, and relax your arms. It makes for easier, smoother control inputs. Use the engine to slow you down, give yourself plenty of braking distance, and take it easy on acceleration. When you’re cornering, take it easy, brake before you corner, and don’t be shy about getting a leg down to help you. Stay off the throttle until you’re upright again.

Motorcycle riding in snow hard turn

One last thing: know where you’re going, and if you miss a turn, don’t do anything sudden to get the bike slowed up to make it. Keep going, take your time, make a U-turn, and try it again. Look for the freshest looking snow on the road and take it slow. 



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