When Is It Too Cold To Ride A Motorcycle? (Beware Of Black Ice!)

Being a cold weather motorcycle rider has a lot to do with comfortability.

Holding all other factors constant, some specific safety tips and general rules will guide us on the limits.

So, When Is It Too Cold To Ride A Motorcycle?

It is not advisable to ride a motorcycle when the temperatures are below the freezing point, which is 0℃ or 32℉. Ice forms when temperatures fall below sub zero, making motorcycles more vulnerable to ice.  If circumstances push you to ride in subzero temperatures, make sure you take the necessary precautions and wear the appropriate gear.

There are high chances of being involved in an accident; You are likely to slide or hit an iceberg if you ride when the temperatures are cold. Your intuition can also help weigh out how safe it is to be out in the cold with your bike. Besides, the factors below will help determine if your escapade will be worthwhile.

1. Ground Temperature vs. Air Temperature

If you plan to ride your motorcycle in winter, monitoring the ground and air temperature is good.

Both temperatures are extremely important and should not be taken for granted.

If you ride your motorcycle when the temperatures are below freezing point, there is a risk of getting hypothermia.

Our normal body temperature is usually 37℃ or 98.6℉. Suppose the body temperature drops to 35℃ or 95℉, then hypothermia kicks in.

When riding your motorcycle in the cold, consider two things. It is cold, and the normal wind makes you twice as susceptible to hypothermia.

The cold air and wind will constantly take away heat from your body faster than the body is producing.

This will cause the internal body temperature to go below the recommended temperature.

Another thing is it’s very uncomfortable to ride in the cold.  It is not advisable to ride your motorcycle on stagnant snow or ice.

Take note of the ground temperature before going out for a ride.

There have been horrific news of how many riders have lost control on snowy roads and are run over by other vehicles.

There are areas called black ice zones.

This zone is created when temperatures are below the freezing point for consecutive days, which causes ice on the road to be compressed.

This makes it impossible for cars and motorcycles to pass through such a region.

2. Be Aware Of Your Limitations

If you are fighting within yourself and have to convince yourself that it is not that cold repeatedly, it is probably safe to stay indoors and choose another suitable day.

If it is your first time riding your motorbike in the cold, maybe for practice, then it’s good to go slow and stick to small roads.

The rule of thumb is to start slow, practice, and give yourself time to gain experience.

Do not ride for long hours if you don’t have the appropriate winter riding gear. It is always good to be safe and avoid extreme conditions like frostbite and hypothermia.

3. Understand Your Motorcycle’s Limitations

It is good to take into account the type of motorcycle you are riding.

Many motorcycles are usually carbureted, which increases the danger of spitting and sputtering when temperatures are below freezing.

Motorcycles with slick tires are not the best to ride in extremely cold temperatures.

The rubber on slick tires has less grip, making it hard to ride in the cold.

If you have to ride in the cold, ensure that your tires have an aggressive tread with a strong grip.

4. Wear Proper Gear

We have already discussed how hypothermia and frostbite are the number one threats to riding a motorcycle in the cold.

So how do we protect ourselves?

The first thing is to wear recommended winter gear which consists of;

Leather Riding Jacket

A leather jacket will protect your body from harsh weather and accidents.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt underneath the leather jacket for better insulation against cold weather.

A better choice would be to buy a winter jacket for riding in the cold. Such jackets have proper insulation.


Do not attempt to ride your motorcycle in the cold without gloves; otherwise, your fingers will freeze within the first few minutes of being in the cold.

Thermal Underwear

It’s good to wear thermal underwear to keep your lower half warm.

If your legs are not properly insulated against the cold, you will have leg cramps, and your legs will become stiff.

Riding Boots

These are particularly important.

Choose waterproof boots, and make sure you wear the same pair throughout the year.

Also, choose the appropriate socks to wear beneath your boots.


This is the most important gear. A helmet will protect you from accidents under normal circumstances. A helmet will protect your eyes and nose from frostbite when riding out in the cold.

Extra Cold Weather Riding Tips

When riding your motorcycle in temperatures below freezing point, consider using;

  • Heated helmet
  • Electric heated seats
  • Heated hand brakes
  • Hand warming packets
  • Heated gloves
  • Heated jacket
  • and Waterproof pants and boots.

To keep your feet warm, consider wearing a warm pair of socks, putting on a grocery bag on top of the socks, and wearing your boots.

The grocery bags and warm socks will help to retain body temperature.

Always keep a safe distance from other oncoming vehicles.

When out in the cold, your tires get stiff, making it difficult to sustain an emergency brake.


Have you been asking yourself how cold is too cold to ride your motorcycle?

Considering all the factors we have mentioned, it is good to listen to your body.

Some people ride in extremely cold temperatures, and they are perfectly fine, while for some people, it is better to stay indoors and wait for the temperatures to be a bit warmer.

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