The rain, cold and snow is no reason to stop riding your dirt bike - though if you do no one's going to blame you.
Winter riding, at least in those places that have true winters, offers a whole new experience that some riders embrace and others prefer to call it a season. Dirt bike riding in the winter months requires a bit more preparation and some different equipment.
First off, the good news, Motocross events tend to head in doors. Your local MX track is unlikely to stay open in wet weather, and if snow is more the norm in your area, they probably just close for the season. If racing is what you miss, look out for local and regional Arenacross events. Since it's all in doors there's nothing special you need to wear or do to your bike.
Now, if you're off-roading, trail riding or you just need to get out of the house and ride somewhere, anywhere, then a bit of prep work is involved both in what you wear and to your dirt bike. Let's first tackle what's needed to get your dirt bike prepped for winter riding.
All Photos: VurbMoto
Preparing Your Dirt Bike for Winter Riding
Coolant is what you normally run to keep your engine from overheating in the summer but now you'll want anti-freeze. If your coolant doesn't have anti-freeze properties then you'll need to change out the fluid. Liquid Performance makes a great combination coolant and anti-freeze with freezing point protection to -30 F.
Have you heard the stories about dirt bikes exploding? It's true but it doesn't blow up like a bomb. When it happens, it's a result of the colder, denser air creating a lean situation (more air than fuel). It's less likely to happen with a 4-stroke since most, nowadays, are all fuel injected but in a 2-stroke it causes the piston to melt on the exhaust port side with the mix of oil and fuel. In cold weather, the fuel mixture fails to travel from the intake to the exhaust before burning up and it gets so hot the metal melts.
The best way to prevent this is re-jetting your carb for cold weather to compensate for the dense air. Newer bikes, whether 2-stroke or 4-stroke, don't usually have this problem. If you need help re-jetting your carb check out our Simple Guide to Jetting Your Carb.
In areas with snow and ice, you'll want studded tires. There's three ways to do this:
- Buy actual studded dirt bike tires
- Get special screws you screw in to your existing dirt bike tires
- Use screws you might already have in the garage, like dry-wall screws
The screws literally screw in to the thick knob part of your dirt bike tire. If you go the cheap-and-dirty route and use screws you already have, MAKE SURE they are not so long you puncture a hole in your tube.
Next, if you're camping or leave your dirt bike outside, be wary of snow that accumulated on the radiator during the day's ride and then froze once the engine cooled down and freezing temperatures took over. You won't get far the next day when you start the engine.
On the plus side, outside all of this except for the studded tires, some riders find simply warming their dirt bikes up for five minutes or so prior to heading out is all that's needed to ensure a fun day on the snow and ice.
Proper Winter Riding Gear
When it comes to winter dirt bike riding it's much like jogging in cold weather. The first few minutes seem unbearable but as your physical exertion takes over and your body heats up, you'll be plenty warm and riding with excessive clothing is usually unnecessary. However, some people handle the cold better than others so this is personal preference. If you do want an overcoat or other add-on gear bring a backpack or other type of carry-on bag so you can shed the garment and put it away if you get overheated.
Most people who enjoy riding dirt bikes in the winter benefit from grip heaters and or heavier gloves. Riding at 25 to 30 mph drops the wind chill factor to nearly intolerable levels and your hands take the brunt of it. A balaclava might also be something to consider for protecting the areas of your face not covered by the helmet or goggles.
Consider adding some rain gear over the top of your usual riding gear if it's raining or you'll be hitting the snow. Rain jackets and pants are lightweight and won't overheat but keep you dry. Check out our Motocross Rain Gear Guide for selections to help you decide.
One thing to keep in mind when riding in the winter is that hypothermia and dehydration can sneak up on you. Bring water just as you would during the summer and take breaks to get a feel of how your body is handling the cold.
Written By: AndrewT