4 Essential tips for Winter Riding
Most riders take the winter off from riding. On the flip side, there are those that live for winter riding. This special breed takes advantage of the reduced trail traffic with the splendor that the snow and cold can bring. If you want to load up your dirt bike, ATV/UTV, or snowmobile to go for a winter ride, you need to be safe doing it. Here are 4 essential tips for staying safe on your next winter ride.
Inspect Your Vehicle Before You Get To The Snow
Breaking down in the snow and cold is a terrible situation. Before you leave the house give everything a discerning inspection. Check that everything is tightened correctly, your controls function as they should, and your brakes stop your ride.
If you plan to change tires to a more aggressive off-road tire, that should be done before you load up. If you have a snow machine that uses a drive belt, it should be checked and changed as needed. All fluids should be inspected topped off if necessary.
Keep Warm While Riding
As much fun as snow and cold can offer, you need to be cautious of the effects of cold on your body. The cold will make you tired, it will reduce your dexterity, and reduce your mental concentration. Any of those conditions can make an afternoon ride uncomfortable. Stacking multiple conditions together can make a pleasure ride dangerous very quickly.
The best way to stay warm is through layers of clothing covering every square inch of skin. Leave nothing exposed. Every zipper should have a flap that closes over it to avoid water and wind penetration. Your helmet should include eye protection with a visor or goggles, and your choice shouldn’t fog under any condition.
The last thing to remember is that your extremities (i.e., hands and feet) will be the first body parts to be cold. Cold hands mean you can’t feel or use the controls well. At that point it’s time to stop riding to warm up.
You can add heated handlebars and a heated seat to provide warmth to extend your riding sessions. You can also carry a small hand warmer that will help bring the color back to your fingers when you stop riding.
Trail Safety is Paramount
If you’re used to riding off-road in the warm dry conditions, you should be accustomed to following trail safety procedures. One thing to keep in mind is snow and ice can hide obstacles and add an extra level of danger.
A known trail can have extra branches under the snow. A frozen creek can become too slippery to cross safely. Submerging anything in water just above freezing temperatures can end your day of riding. If you venture off a known trail, be aware that snow depth can be deceptive. Larger obstacles like stumps can hide in plain sight.
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One of the best parts of riding is going out with friends on a group ride. Riding on or off-road, the same rules apply for spacing between each participant. Stagger your riding lines as best as possible and keep plenty of distance between each rider for extra stopping distance in slick conditions.
Visibility can also be limited around corners and in inclement weather conditions, so be prepared to slow down or stop as conditions change. Remember the number one rule of riding in a group: ride at your own pace. More experienced riders should be at the front, while slower or less experienced riders should be behind the faster riders.
Stop or slow frequently to ensure all group members are still on the ride together.
Lastly, you may want to carry a small first-aid kit just in case anything happens. The mentioned warming items (hand heaters, etc.) should be included, but a standard kit with bandages and antiseptic spray can be taken along in case of a medical emergency.
Bring Tools in Case of Emergencies
Your pre-ride inspection should prevent a breakdown from a missed maintenance issue, however, sometimes an unexpected event off-road can lead to a breakdown on the trail. It’s times like this that you’ll be happy you have some tools available for emergencies.
The type of vehicle you’re on may influence how many tools you carry. A snow machine, UTV, or ATV may have enough spare room to carry a complete tool kit, flares, extra warming gear, and more. A dirt bike with limited bodywork may offer little space to carry extra parts and tools. Handlebar packs, saddle bags, and other small aftermarket equipment may help take what you need to get back home.
Your minimum tools should be a small selection of sockets and a ratchet. Older American made equipment may need standard sizes, but newer equipment may use metric fasteners. Check what you have before you leave and take the necessary tools with you.
Distribute everything as best as possible amongst everyone on the ride.
Communication gear can fit into multiple categories, and there are many ways to communicate. Group riders may choose to have headset communicators that operate via Bluetooth between each group rider.
Each headset should be hands-free and waterproof. And while we’re mentioning phones, never leave home without one on the ride! They can call for help if needed, they typically have a map app to help navigate if you get lost, and they can be triangulated by authorities if you can’t find where you are.
Even if you have a smart phone on the ride, always let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you back. If you don’t get back at the designated time, your contact can check in on you or notify additional help to be on the lookout.
QFS Is Here To Help!
Winter off-road riding can be a challenge, but also an immense reward with different terrain to cover. Once you’re home safely, be sure to check over your equipment before putting it back in storage.
Give it a quick wash to remove and salts or conders brought home in the snow or ice. Add stabilizer to the fuel tank and connect a battery tender / charger to keep the battery at full charge.
If you need to replace any fuel components after a ride, you can order a better designed replacement pump, complete assembly, or just the missing pieces you need for an upgrade from Quantum Fuel Systems, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT, over the phone or browse our extensive catalog. Be sure to contact us via our support page for any detailed technical questions, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
For over 15 years, Quantum Fuel Systems has been manufacturing and distributing fuel system components for OEM and performance applications. Our mission is to manufacture fuel systems that are centered around longevity, accurate flow data, and hassle-free direct fitment.
Be sure to snap a few pictures during and after the winter ride, or if you are a video creator, send us a link to your video on our ‘Submit Your Ride’ page. We love to see what you’re working on, riding, and hear about your experience!