What Are the Best Motorcycle Wheels for in the Winter

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While some motorcyclists seem to be opposed to the idea of winter riding, it does have an appeal to others. Indeed, with a bike that’s been fully prepared for a cold season, a snow-covered road can be just as much fun, if not more, as a summery scenery. Wheels are key when it comes to getting it ready. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more dangerous to ride in the snow.

motorcycle in snow

One crucial aspect that the temperature outdoors has an influence on is traction. The colder your tires, the poorer traction, and the greater risk you take. Tires that are the most crucial part of your wheels in inclement weather, so this article will mostly focus on how to choose the right ones. The following tips come from yourmotobro.com, for more in depth details visit their site. 

What Tires Work Best in Cold Weather

The word “winter” has many meanings depending on where you are. In some regions, it’s mainly associated with rain and dirt, while others happen to see a snowstorm every once in a while. The only sign of winter that’s omnipresent is relatively low temperatures unless your in certain sunshine states.

Deeper Grooves

There are multiple ways in which properly chosen tires can contribute to better traction on a cold road. One of them is by using specialized thread patterns. If you expect to deal with snow-free, clean yet slippery roads, opt for deeper grooves.

Shallow Grooves  and Softer tires for Snow

However, bikers who do see snow at times might want to invest in all-weather or combination thread tires, where there are small, shallow grooves for easy pick-up of sticky snow and deeper ones to improve overall traction. Wet-weather tires generally work well on clean cold streets.

snow tires bike

Some brands make motorcycle tires designated as cold weather or winter tires. These use compounds that are optimized for colder conditions, making them softer and grippier on the snow as well as on the pavement. The bad news is that you’ll have to switch back to your summer pair when the winter is over.

Tire pressure

One more thing to keep in mind when riding your motorcycle in winter is tire pressure. When the temperature drops dramatically, so does the pressure, so be sure to check it every time you venture on a ride. It’s best to stick to the minimum recommended pressure, though, for increased grip.

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Many people get a surge of inspiration to experiment with the size of their tires when the cold sets in. While performance benefits are not completely impossible with wider tires, they are generally difficult to predict, so it’s best to stick to your manufacturer’s original recommendations.

When the Snow Comes Flying Down

Motorcyclists often wonder whether special snow-friendly tires exist for this means of transport. The short answer is yes. There aren’t many, but a number of manufacturers offer those with an enhanced grip on snowy roads, where rain grooves are paired with ones for collecting snow. We have some tips for riding in the rain, here.

As a rule of thumb, knobby tires work better in snowy weather but aren’t strictly necessary unless you’re planning an off-road tour. Some pressure adjustment might be needed, too, depending on how hard-packed the snow is.

Some snow tires for extreme conditions come with studs, although the use of such equipment can be restricted depending on where you are. The use of ceramic or metal protruding studs or spikes of varying length is mostly reserved for icy weather. Please mind that such models will abrade harder surfaces dramatically, so it’s not a recommended option for street riding.

sports bikeTires for Messy Winters

When there is snow or ice, there is bound to be water sooner or later. Whatever melts under your wheels will mix with soil readily, turning into mud wherever the road is not perfect, or there is no paving whatsoever. Of course, riders who are brave enough to stay off the road in winter should stick to off-road tires that are knobby to the point of getting through the top soft layer to establish traction.

Other Parts of the Wheel

Apart from the tires as the key player in the traction equation, there’s also the rim that plays a major role in your experience as a winter rider. There are two main ways in which it matters.

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Firstly, the rim can be relatively lightweight or heavy, depending on what it’s made of. Weight is tremendously important when it comes to maneuverability — this is applied in pretty much any weather. It’s not only cornering that can be compromised by a rim, which is too heavy, but also the stopping distance.

Secondly, and on the other hand, there is strength. Rims that are made really lightweight at the cost of durability might crack when faced with the hardships of a winter road or, especially, off-road riding during the cold season.

The only viable solution is to take into account the conditions that you are mostly going to use your bike in when shopping for an adequate wheel rim.

Getting Your Wheels to Work in Winter: Summing It Up

Your safety and comfort during the winter months are largely determined by your riding style and preferred locations. These also influence the types of wheels and, most importantly, tires that are worth your investment for the cold season. The debates about whether softer, grippier tires work better in subzero temperatures when compared to more rigid designs are still there. However, it’s a rule of thumb to reserve your knobbies for really messy and/or slippery conditions that mostly occur off the road. Wet-weather tires or those with combination thread patterns made with rain as well as snow in mind will suffice on the streets. These should always be paired with sturdy yet not-too-heavy rims for optimum cornering and braking performance that doesn’t compromise robustness.

Wheels surely play an important role in ensuring the rider’s security, and it’s especially true in conditions when traction is limited. However, it’s not all about investment. Check with your local bike shop and see what they recommend. You will probably limited to what tires they sell and will be limited to what they can order. Remember to check tire pressure regularly and apply appropriate riding techniques to negotiate winter challenges in order to stay safe!