With my new bike, I have decided to try riding in more than fair weather, as most of my friends only ride.  The main reason is because the summer riding season felt so short this year, partially because the weather wasn’t completely cooperative, so I am going to extend it.  With my softtail, I wouldn’t have attempted anything like this.  Not sure why, I guess I didn’t have the warm and fuzzy about inclement weather as I do with my new bike.  Or maybe it is because of the grip heaters, providing the incentive to go the extra mile.  What ever it is, I can looking into ways to extend my riding season.

First, I have set some ground rules.  I will NOT ride in snow.  Oh hell no!!  If I can slip in a 4×4 truck in snow, then I know two wheels aren’t enough to stop me from going down during our snow days.  The next rule is I will not ride in thunderstorms.  Unless I can caught away from home, I don’t see this as being a problem.  I usually check the weather before I leave my house, and if thunderstorms are on the predictive list, then I’ll pass the garage and head to the truck.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to use grip heaters, it does make a world of difference.  Keeping your hand toasty warm throughout your ride, which rides up past your wrist, makes the ride a lot more enjoyable, and this is the only reason any of us actually ride motorcycles,   we enjoy it.  My grip heaters have six settings, but I haven’t been able to make it past three.  Those things get hot.  Of course, I have my polypros, chaps, and leather jacket (with a sweatshirt) to help insulate me.  These are totally worth the purchase.  However, I recently purchased something new.  Running to the hundred dollar store,  I found a heated liner.  These come in a couple of different styles, such as sleeveless or full sleeves or battery operated and wired.

Keeping your core warm can make all the difference when riding.  When you aren’t shaking and stiff while riding will keep you maneuverable and focused on what is around you.  You never want to be too stiff to react to something that is happening in front of you.  Sweatshirts and leather jackets can keep you warm, but they cannot provide additional heat to maintain your core temperature, this is where a liner is needed.  If I worked on a construction site and would be outdoors for some time, I can see getting a battery powered sleeveless vest.  They work for approximately eight hours with a single charge.  Since I won’t use mine unless I am riding, I decided to go with the full sleeves and wired in to the bike. It took only a couple of minutes to attached the wired to the battery and I was ready to do.  I confirmed that adding it didn’t affect my warranty on my bike.

I waited until the first fall morning (50 degrees) and I tried it out.  If you’ve ridden before in the cold, you know that the temperature you feel while riding is about 10 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature.  50 degrees feels more like 40 degrees, and maybe 35 in some areas depending on the landscape.  I had my polypros on, chaps, sweatshirt, liner and a leather jacket.  I even decided to run with the full face helmet just for added protected.  I couldn’t believe how warm I was the entire ride.  It maintained my core temperature at a nice 100 degrees (you know I like hot).  It was a great ride in.  With the version of heated vest that I purchased, you can  purchase additional items for the entire body.  From heated gloves, to heated chaps and socks all connected through a single source.  I am so impressed with the company, and will probably buy the heated chaps and maybe some battery operated socks.  With all the gear on and running, I know I will be comfortable in temperatures near freezing, which extends my riding welling to the fall and winter.

To contend with the east coast constant bombardment of wet weather, I decided to stop avoiding riding when the ground is a little wet.  The bike is made to deal with being wet, so should I.  Of course, like I mentioned above, I won’t do thunderstorms or try to avoid heavy downpours, but over all rain isn’t that much to deal with if you are properly outfitted with the gear.

Today is has been a moderate rain fall, and a perfect opportunity for me to test some of my wet weather gear.  I don’t plan on riding cross country on a regular basis, so I don’t need the top of the line rain suit, although if you have the money, I would get it.  I previously purchased some Frogg Toggs while on another trip and haven’t had a real chance to try them out.  Since it was raining pretty good and a chance of a downpour or two, I decided to completely protect myself.  I put on my chaps, Frogg Toggs, my fire department jacket (water resistant), and my riding boots.  My office is about 33 miles from my house, so I knew I would be in it for a while.  If you’ve had to deal with Maryland/Virginia traffic, they have a tendency to drive like there is 3 feet of snow on the ground regardless of how much it is raining, today was no exception.  It is also common that someone will have trouble driving from point A to point B without hitting something.

I would like to say that the control of the Ultra Glide Classic Limited bike was phenomenal.  It handles great in the weather, and the ABS provides a little more comfort when you have to break.  After making it all the way to work, and after the surprised looks I got from my coworkers, I get a once over to see what issues I had.  The first I had to deal with was the fogging of my facemask.  Yes, I decided to go with the fullface because raindrops hurt.  So I need to work out a method to antifog my faceshield.  The next was the Frogg Toggs was good except at areas that might hold standing water, like the seat, so my butt got a little wet.  My boots were never waterproofed, but they didn’t get too wet because of the guards on the bike, however, I would like to get some waterproofing for the next time.  Finally, the gloves, they also require some waterproofing, or a different type that resists some of the water.  All in all, I really enjoyed the ride and the shortcomings that I encountered can be easily corrected, even for the ride back home.

So I suggest to everyone, if you enjoy riding as much as I do, try to extend your riding weather by preparing yourself to deal with the elements.  Even with a bike that seems to handle the wet roads, make sure you drive carefully.  Increase the distance between your bike and the car in front of you; don’t break too hard and remember to downshift; take corners at a lower speed; and always always always remain vigilant for other drivers who probably don’t see you, especially when it is raining.

Be safe.