Dirt bike riders will find it hard to refrain from using their motorcycle through winter, considering how exhilarating the sport is. Thankfully, with adequate preparation, you can make dirt bike riding a four-season sport.
Winter riding is a fun experience, and some riders even address it as winter break. Even planners have established winter tracks to accommodate this winter-riding enthusiasm.
Preparing Your Dirt Bike
A dirt biker till have to implement several modifications to optimize their bike for winter conditions. The conditions of the snow determine how well a particular bike will perform, so it is wise to accommodate modifications for every possible situation. These configurations include:
Online forums advise on the adjustment of tires when you intend to take your dirt bike on the trail during winter. Your bike may do well when the season has just begun, and the snow is just a thin layer on the ground. If you run it on dense snow, however, the snow will pack into the tires and make you slip and slide.
Snow tires resemble standard dirt bike tires, but they feature studs to increase traction. The studs jut out from the tires for about 7 or 8 mm on average. The studs are designed to grip the frozen ground, and riding in snow with studded tires will be a smooth experience.
Snow tires can be a bit pricey, and some riders stick screws in the tires to improvise. The ideal screws measure between 1.5 to 3.8 inches. Longer screws can puncture your tires’ tubes. These DIY snow tires can be effective although they can fall out on the track or puncture the tubes on your tires. Studded tires are a necessity in the snow, whether you make them or buy in a store.
The motor on the bike should also be modified. You may not have to buy a replacement, but you will do well with a few protective components. The wet snow can potentially ruin your bike’s motor.
The carburetor is among the parts you will need to keep safe. Covering the sides will protect the carburetor from freezing. Your throttle can get stuck, or your dirt bike can get fuel-starved should the carburetor freeze. You can use a set of plastic covers to keep out wet snow. In the case of a two-stroke engine, ensure that the air-fuel mixture is concentrated to optimize the working of the engine in cold temperatures.
Winter Protective Gear
Dirt biking in winter is no easy feat. As you prepare your bike, you will also need to gather cold weather riding clothes and gear.
Gloves appropriate for the cold weather is a must to prevent frozen hands. The grips and levers will also be freezing. The cold can make you lose grip on the bike and compromise on your safety. The pair should be adequately light on the palm to maintain a good grip and thick enough on the back part of the hand. Some riders make use of electric grip heaters fitted under regular grips. The clutch and brake levers should additionally be covered so that you do not have to touch the cold metal. Standard electrical tape can work well for this function.
The thin and ventilated jersey that works well in warm weather will be inadequate during winter. You need riding jackets designed for insulation. Some brands even repel water, while others are modified to provide flexibility. The jersey should simply block the wind, and you can add a chest protector underneath. Protective pants are typically worn under the usual riding pants to offer extra protection. The wind chill factor necessitates their inclusion. The protective pants also protect the skin from bruises and scratches without limiting movement.
A thicker pair of socks will deliver extra padding while still maintaining the moisture wicking attributes present in your normal pair. You may need another pair of riding boots to fit the thermal socks. Winter boots have nails attached underneath to prevent a rider from sliding in snow.
Your head should be fitted with a helmet and goggles at all times during riding. You can buy thin head coverings for an extra warm layer. They cover up to down the neck to keep out cold drafts between your helmet and jacket collar. The coverings come in full-face versions which have eye openings or mouth/nose openings. Dressing in layers will also prevent your goggles from fogging up by moderating body temperature. Some cold-weather goggles come with in-built anti-fogging features.
Riding conditions contribute to the success of winter riding. The fluffier the snow in your riding area, the less traction you will encounter. Perfect conditions involve dense snow, that is snow that is less than 8 to 9 inches in depth. If the snow is 11 to 12 inches deep, it will be trickier to ride over, particularly with variable crust layers accounted for.
The ideal snow conditions for dirt biking is where a thick crust has settled on snow that is less than 10 to 12 inches deep. The thickness of the crust makes for a smooth ride, and common obstacles like stumps and rocks are underneath the snow’s surface.
If you install the necessary modifications on your bike, it should be okay to ride it in all seasons. The risks, therefore, are those that are related to the cold and not the bike. Being exposed to freezing conditions for a lengthy period of time will trigger some health issues.
Hypothermia advances with extensive exposure to cold temperatures, where your body fails to produce adequate heat. The body responds to this condition by directing blood away from the surface to reduce the amount of heat that gets lost to the atmosphere. Vital organs can fail while the person can become disoriented. With radical thought compromised, the person will not be in a position to take corrective measures. To prevent getting hypothermia when dirt biking, stay in the cold for limited periods. You may get carried away when riding, so it can be a good move to create a schedule.
Frostbite is another concern to be aware of as you prepare for winter riding. What makes the issue real is that it can occur in less than 10 minutes. It targets bare skin that has been left out in the cold, where the skin feels cold and becomes red. As the frostbite progresses, the skin turns pale and hard. Beware of your skin becoming swollen or stinging as it can mean that frostbite has developed. In extreme scenarios, the skin becomes black, signaling the death of tissues and necessitating amputation. Equip yourself with appropriate weather clothing to prevent this occurrence.
Is Winter Riding Popular?
Winter bike riding is not an overly-popular undertaking. It is however fairly common, so you will not miss out on finding a decently-sized community to engage in the sport with. Most riders who take their dirt bikes to the snow also enjoy other cold weather activities like skiing or snowboarding. For others, they simply lack the patience to wait out the winter season without riding. There are other communities who appreciate the cold weather than the heat in seasons like summer and also prefer the less-crowded trails during winter.
Extra Tips on Riding Dirt Bike in Winter
In a nutshell, the things to observe when winter riding are:
- Get gloves designed for cold weather. The regular gloves that you cannot do without usually will be insufficient for winter. You want a pair that features a thick exterior while still having an insulating but thin layer on the palms
- Buy Thermal Underwear. Skipping on thermal underwear can lead to frostbite or hypothermia. The ones designed for sports wick your sweat away so that you are both comfortable and protected.
- Your jackets and pants should be tailored for cold weather. What you are comfortable in in August is not appropriate for winter. The set should be thicker, heavier, and well-insulated.
- Do not overdo on the layers. It is only natural to pack up on the clothing during the cold season. Layering will, however, trigger seating and limit your flexibility on the trail. In general, you want to be chilly as you begin but not cold, as you will warm up on the trail. If you are warm at the start, you are only putting up yourself for a lot of sweating.
- Keep the bike covered. Do not abandon your motorcycle outside for long during winter as the engine can freeze. Make use of your basement or garage.
- Maintain a Riding Schedule. The human body is vulnerable to cold conditions, mainly in the forms of frostbite and hypothermia. Your riding time needs to be limited to less than 3 hours. Stick to a schedule and choose a trail you know well.
- Treat your pair of riding boots with water repellant to maintain your feet in a dry state.
- Grip heaters will direct extra warmth to your hands so that you operate the grips and levers with more ease.
Dirt biking is as fun as it is extreme. A few modifications will, thankfully make it easier to ride your bike in the snow. Your tires and motor will need some adjustments while your protective gear will have to mirror the cold conditions. Exposing yourself to the freezing temperatures of winter is however risky, so you need to be careful about the time you spend outside. Do not forget to stay hydrated.