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Tips for cold weather riding and winterizing


I waited for Santa to appear and I saw him!  He was outfitted in leathers and rode in on two wheels last Saturday at Mountain View!

Strapped onto the chrome luggage racks and pillion pads were toys of all kinds, from Minnie Mouse with matching hair bows to cowboy long rifle and pistol sets.  Barb Connor, organizer, stated that 17 bikes braved the frigid temps and loads of toys and cash were donated.  The group enjoyed a meal at El Imperial in Cabool before they parted ways.  Most bikers – and Santa, too – enjoy the “ride to eat, eat to ride” motto.

If you would like to contribute to the Local Bikers for Local Children annual toy drive, you may still do so.  The local contacts for arranging donations are Todd Dorman, at 417-260-2000, or Barb Connor, at 417-247-0684.

I had a few comments on the 29-degree ride over to Mountain View, most of which were that I had lost my mind!  Truly, with today’s technology, there are heated gloves, vests, and pants that make riding in the cold temps enjoyable.  If you can’t afford all the fancy items, just keep all skin covered, as well as layer up.

Don’t laugh men, but wearing some panty hose as your base layer helps, too, followed by insulated thermals, jeans, and topped off with leather. We have used the hunters’ warming packs for gloves inside our boots as well as gloves, which also work well.

A full face helmet is a must. Wind chill on a bike is like no other cold. The first couple years we had our bikes, we made sure we rode them at least every month. This was mainly out of spite because of non-riders’ comments that “we would park them several months a year.” Dress warm and ride all winter!

If you do find your riding season is coming to a close, remember these two things: FSBO bikes get cheaper in the winter if you are upgrading, and you get off time to perform the maintenance you put off during the summer.

When you’re not riding, it’s important to tender your battery.  Letting your battery run down over the winter is risky, as there’s only so many times you can deep cycle a battery before its dead. Battery tenders are a great investment for those $100 batteries.

Air filters need to be replaced, or if they are not replaceable then use an air compressor to blow out the gremlins for the filter element.  An end-of-season oil change will ensure you are ready for spring riding season. Brake fluid should be changed if it looks old, thick and brown. New spark plugs will liven up the kick in the old horse, and you will need to consult your manual or your local shop on setting the plugs.

Riding along a few years ago I saw a fellow rider kick up his leg while riding and let out a whoop! One of his plug wires was worn and it bit his thigh while riding! Take a good look at your plug wires as they can be cleaned up, but if very worn just replace them. If you’re vain as I am, you might get matching plug wires to match your paint theme.

Unless you ride or ride with a chopper (inside joke), the most common motorcycle breakdown is tire damage.  Look your tires over well. If you see cracks or dry rot- just replace the tire. Cracks and underinflated tires are most likely to blow out so also keep the correct amount of pressure in them. If you are planning on storing your bike in the cold, you will be at a higher risk for developing cracks in the rubber, so be sure to check them over before that ride on the unseasonably warm days of early spring.

If you are not mechanically minded or want the maintenance on your bike done by a professional, take it to your local shop. We use Hog’s Breath Cycle in Houston. Mike will take care of your bike as his own.  We have never been dissatisfied. Give him a call 417-967-0660 during the offseason for best pricing and turn around time.

In closing, wherever you store your bike when you’re not riding, remember this: Bikes don’t leak oil, they mark their territory!

Kerry York is a lady rider and resident of Houston, Mo., who coordinates monthly Houston Downtown Cruise-In events from spring to fall. Email