A Message from the Department of Driver Services (DDS) Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program (GMSP)
Fall in Georgia brings variable weather conditions. Often midday temperatures may be warm and comfortable for motorcycle riding, while overnight temperatures may be near freezing. A little preparation can keep you on the road even on the dreariest of days.
“In Georgia, we are blessed with normally very temperate weather all year round. However, Fall and Winter brings variable weather conditions,” said DDS Commissioner Spencer R. Moore. “A little preparation can keep you on the road all year round.”
Riding a motorcycle without proper attire in cold weather is not only uncomfortable but also dangerous. When you get too cold, you start shivering and your limbs stiffen up, making it harder to react to unexpected situations and increasing your chances of injury if something happens. If you’re riding in cold weather, make sure you have the appropriate gear using a three-layer approach.
Base Layer: this is the inner layer that sits right next to your skin, primarily to create comfort for you, but also to retain some warmth. Base layers should fit snug to the skin and be very flexible to facilitate mobility (which is important to retain while riding.) Any athletic base layer will do the trick, from old school thermals to modern synthetic versions.
Mid-Layer: the middle layer’s main job is to retain the maximum of heat for your body. Mid-layers tend to be thicker, fluffier layers such as polyester fleece or even synthetic down.
Outer Shell: this is the layer with the biggest job because it not only seals out warmth-robbing wind and moisture but keeps you protected from crashes should you happen to go down. Leather gear offers the best combination of feel and crash protection. For best protection, wear leathers with a rain suit over it if you choose.
Most gloves don't do it all. The best dry and warm option is mittens however they don’t look great, but they will protect you no matter what. Most gloves get heavy when wet and take a long time to dry out. Look for gloves where the waterproof layer is bonded to the outside and you will find they stay dry a lot better. When shopping for winter gloves consider buying merino wool liners first and then try the gloves on over the liners to make sure they will fit. Or in a pinch, put on latex surgical gloves as a base layer. This will keep your hands warmer and dry.
Wear a full-face helmet for the best head and neck protection. You want as little exposed skin as possible when riding in the cold. A full-face helmet is the easiest way of blocking the wind and rain, and it will even hold some heat in. Add cold-weather baklava or hood for maximum warmth.
Riding in the rain can be done safely if you follow a few simple rules. Keep rain gear with you if you have room. Adjust your riding speed for the conditions. Keep in mind, when it rains for the first time after an extended dry period, there will be excessive amounts of oil on the road, making conditions extremely slick. Watch for standing water. Remember water will pool in the normal vehicle tracks on the road and most roadways are crowned and, as such, water will be deeper on the right side of the road. Gear up, slow down, create distance, and stay focused.
It’s always a good idea to keep cold-weather gear with you just in case you get detained or ride longer than you anticipated. It’s also a good idea to keep a pair of clear glasses or a clear helmet shield for riding in low light conditions. You will want to treat them with some form of an anti-fogging agent before riding in cold temperatures.
Riding a motorcycle is a physical and a learned skill. As such, your skill set can diminish if you don’t ride regularly. If you have been off the bike for an extended period, re-acclimate yourself to your bike. If you are a new rider, be sure you have the appropriate skills training. The Georgia Motorcycle Safety Program offers classes for every level of rider. For more information or to enroll in a class, go to: https://online.dds.ga.gov/motorcycle/index.aspx
You can find GSMP on Facebook (Georgia Department of Driver Services), Instagram (georgiadds) and Twitter(@georgiadds). The Department of Driver Services now has an app: DDS 2 Go. Download it to take care of many of your DDS needs.