Motorcycles: Winter months To-Dos

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What to do during the winter months

by Stacey Axmaker/Idaho Star

If you live in Idaho and have to live through cold, snowy winters, you probably choose to leave the bike parked and use your car or truck to go to work or visit family during the holidays, both for comfort and safety reasons.

After cleaning and prepping the bike for winter, however, we still can enjoy our favorite sport by reading some books or watching videos that cover good motorcycle riding techniques. Here is a list of some favorites, most of which we recommend to our graduates, too.

Read during a rainy day

David Hough has several books that are worth checking out: " Proficient Motorcycling" (2000), " Street Strategies " (2001), " Mastering the Ride: More Proficient Motorcycling " (2003), and just out this year "The Good Rider." Hough’s books cover safe street-riding techniques, with lots of useful riding tips. Hough was inducted to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2009 for his work as a motorcycle journalist and writer; his books will help you survive the ride while also enjoying it.

"Maximum Control: Mastering Your Heavyweight Bike," by Pat Hahn is also a good read if you ride a big bike. Riding a big bike well requires special skills; they have different centers of gravity, tend to steer more slowly, and may put you in a different riding position. This book will help their owners get the best ride out of them.

Hahn also wrote " ride hard, ride smart," which covers a concept you might have heard, the "three degrees of separation" (the three things that separate the rider from death and injury: riding strategies, training and skills, and protective gear).

Finally, "Total Control" by Lee Parks, is another good book to get ahold of. The book has nice high-quality photos, detailed instructions, and professional diagrams that cover more advanced riding techniques.

Watch a video while it snows outside

We also recommend checking the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website (, as well as our own ( for videos, resources, and other relevant links. There are quite a few individuals and organizations posting "how to" videos online (with varying degrees of quality and good advice). We like "Ride like a Pro" and " Howzit Done with Capt. Crash." Capt. Crash has a particularly high entertainment-to-educational ratio. You won’t be disappointed (at this point I have to make a disclaimer, since Capt. Crash is also an Idaho STAR Instructor).

Don’t forget that you can also share the joy of riding by buying some of these items as gifts for the rider in your life, as well as gift certificates for spring and summer motorcycle skills classes in your area. If you live in Idaho, give us a call to ask for our gift certificates, and you’ll be done with your Christmas shopping without leaving the warmth of your home (1-888-280-STAR).

Enjoy the sunny winter days

For those of you who still choose to ride on sunny days during the winter, remember to wear your protective gear and warm clothes (and heated gear). Keep in mind that drivers are not expecting motorcycles in the winter, so make yourself visible.

Watch out for bridges that freeze before the roads do, and be alert for black ice in shady areas. If you must cross a slick spot or even suspect one, keep the bike slow, straight, and steady, and make no abrupt inputs with brakes, clutch, steering or throttle. Squeeze in the clutch and coast across the ice to avoid applying either too much or too little power to the rear wheel. In general, you will be more stable with your feet on the pegs or floorboards than by dragging them.

Have a safe winter!

- Ax

Stacey "Ax" Axmaker is the program director for the Idaho Star Motorcycle Training Program


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