For many, wintertime is when bikes are garaged away and in storage until the warmer spring weather. Even many who would normally ride year-round are facing the no riding blues from various lockdowns in place to tackle the covid pandemic. I’m personally in this category as I’m now working from home permanently. So, what can a die-hard biker do to while away the dark and miserable winter months? Read on for some suggestions on winter motorcycle entertainment.
→ Additionally, there’s a lot of stuff mentioned here that would make great biker gifts and motorcycle Christmas presents or stocking fillers. So, take note if you know a biker and are stuck for gift ideas.
Maintain, Clean and Waterproof Your Gear
The winter months are the ideal time to catch up those maintenance chores, to give your motorcycle gear some TLC.
- Treat your leathers to some cleaner and conditioner or leather wax. I bet they’ve got loads of dried on bugs and other dirt picked up from the summer rides. So, give them a clean off and rub them down with some treatment to keep them nice a supple ready for next year. Check out our Nikwax Leather Care Kit review.
Textiles waterproof motorcycle clothing also needs regular care too. If your bike is stored away or you’re doing minimal riding, now is an ideal time to wash your textiles and re-waterproof them. Nikwax does some great products for this. Generally, this is a case of removing all armour, two washes on a delicate machine cycle, first with cleaner, then a second to reapply waterproofing.
- When was the last time you gave the inside of your helmet a clean? Ewww! Spend a winter evening investigating how the inner lining can be removed for washing. I can also recommend the Muc-Off Helmet Cleaning foam, which you simply fill your lid with to remove the dirt and odours and leave it with a lovely fresh smell.
- Whilst at it, why not give your gloves and boots a clean and application of some waterproof spray and/or leather conditioner. Again Nikwax is your friend here and the Muc-Off helmet cleaning foam is great on boots too.
Chill to Some Motorcycle Films & Documentaries
Through those long dark nights when there’s naff all decent on the telly, why not stick on some videos of great motorcycle adventures. Great viewing and might even kick off some ideas of adventures of your own for next year.
- Long Way Around/Up/Down/Shake-It-All-About: No Introduction needed here, why not check out Ewen McGregor and Charley Boorman’s latest adventure on ‘leccy HD’s through South America on AppleTV (the lot is ready to binge on a month’s free trial now). Or relive their prior adventures on Amazon Prime and see how things have changed.
- Mondo Enduro/Mondo Sahara/Terra Circa: Spearheaded by the infamous Austin Vince and possibly one of the first motorcycle adventures to film their shenanigans. Well worth watching again and a must-watch if you’ve never seen them. If only to compare the very different approach these pioneers took, unlike today’s expectation you need a huge GS with oodles of kit.
- Classic motorcycle films: We all love the classics, whether you’ve seen them before or not, they’re great viewing. You might find some on Netflix/Amazon etc, but otherwise, you can pick up many on disc pretty cheap these days. My suggestions are:
- Easy Rider – 1969 classic with Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson dropping out of mainstream culture as they ride across the US to Mardi Gras.
- On Any Sunday – Famously including Steve McQueen, this documentary tells the story of free spiriting motocross racers in the early ’70s.
- Closer to the Edge – A documentary that gets under the skin of the Isle of Man TT road race and the racers brave enough to tackle it.
- The Motorcycle Diaries – Classic adaption of Ernesto Guevara’s memoirs as he rode an old Norton up through South America with his best friend Alberto Granado. A journey that exposed great inequality and poverty that shaped Che Guevara’s later revolutionary stance.
- The Wild One – Marlon Brando leads a rebel motorcycle gang in this 1953 classic. Initially banned in the UK for fear of copycat gang violence, today it is more exemplary of how motorcyclists were perceived by a conservative society.
- YouTube Adventurers: of which there are countless, but I can certainly recommend binging your way through ItchyBoots, Lyndon Poskitt, The Arktic Rider, Steph Jeavons and Shaw2Shore to name a few.
- Twist of the Wrist II: Alternatively, you may wish to dig out some instructional videos on how to ride better. Twist of the Wrist II by Keith Code (of California Superbike School fame), is certainly one of the most well-known videos. Packed full of great advice, if not the most succinct. Now available on Amazon Prime Video.
For the Motorcycle Book Worms
Other of you may prefer to chill out with your head in a book, perhaps with some good tunes in the background and a little glass of your favourite tipple. Alternatively, you could play audiobooks whilst you veg out on your favourite easy chair.
- The Autobiographies: Plenty out there on all your favourite biking hero’s, from the likes of Guy Martin, Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, Carl Fogarty etc. Dunno about you, but I’ve seemed to have collected several on the bookshelf from past presents and from various shows, but still haven’t read them all yet!
- If adventures in foreign lands are your thing, then do check out these motorcycle books:
- Jupiter’s Travels – Ted Simon, a ’70s journo entertaining narrative of his travels across six continents on a Triumph T100
- Lone Rider – Elspeth Beard, the memoirs of a solo journey of 23-year pioneer Elspath travelling the globe in 1982.
- The Street Riding Years – Chris Scott, telling the tale of an ’80s dispatch rider in London, with a few excursions further afield.
- Do also check out books by Ted Bishop, Lois Pryce, Zoë Cano.
- Zen: For those wanting some deeper, I can highly recommend Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig. A multilayer book about a father and son’s motorcycle journey of introspection, dealing with mental illness and debating the divide between Eastern and Western philosophies when searching for Quality. An unforgettable read that is both insightful and enlightening.
Project Bike Time
Whether you’re restoring a classic, building a custom or preparing a track day weapon, the winter months are an ideal time to catch up on those big tasks in the build. If you have garage space to work on a project bike, crank up the heater and get on with the jobs you’ve been delaying.
If you only have a single bike, the winter months when it won’t be ridden much are an ideal time to do those big jobs or upgrades you’ve been putting off. Stripping it down and taking the time to do a proper job, without the pressure of wanting to ride it in a couple of days time. Be it valve checks, carb fettling, repainting engines, tidying up electrics or just fitting new kit and flashy upgrades.
→ Note: be wary of any spray painting tasks, you’ll never get good results in a cold damp garage.
Without the time pressures of getting the bike on the road, now is also the perfect time to send parts to professionals to work on. For example frames to the powder coaters, bling for re-chroming, carbs for ultrasonic cleaners, wheels for refurbishing etc.
Of course, do be careful what new project bikes you bid on eBay on those dark nights after a few drinks. You don’t want to wake up in the morning to find you’ve bitten off more than you can chew or committed yourself to a lemon!
Plug Your Motorcycle Trickle Charger In!
Lastly, don’t forget to put your bike(s) on a trickle charge if you don’t intend to run them for more than 2-4 weeks. Especially if you have an immobiliser or alarm that will drain the battery. Batteries left to go flat will have their overall lifespan reduced, a trickle charger will not only ensure it stays charged but also maintain good long term health of a battery.
Motorcycle trickle chargers start from about £30 at SportsBikeShop with the Oxford Oximiser and TecMate Optimate being the most popular.
Do also check out our other tips on long term or winter motorcycle storage.
What’s your plan for the winter? What biking antics can you recommend we all watch or read about? What are your winter maintenance or storage tips?