We’ve had a few questions on winter riding in the UK, due to recent snow.
It’s not really sensible to ride in the winter, when the temperature is below 3 degrees C, unless you have to. Below this temperature ice can form on the road, and even sometimes at higher temperatures due to ‘wind chill’.
There are areas where ‘micro climates’ can form, often on bridges or other exposed roads, at higher temperatures.
You cannot see ‘black ice’ as the surface may not be shiny, but textured and dull. It often just looks like a wet road, so you get no warning until you suddenly lose grip and a fall is very likely. Black ice, as the video below shows, can form in tyre tracks where cars have compacted fallen show into a layer of black ice complete with a tread pattern which disguises it. It’s usually safer to follow tyre tracks in slippery conditions, to avoid gravel mud as well as frost.
However, its usually safe below 3 degrees C when the roads are dry, as any ice can easily be seen and avoided, and not confused with a wet road. But care is still needed near sources of water such as ponds of lakes where black ice can also invisibly form and cannot be seen.
But if roads have been salted this can badly corrode your bike, particularly older models.
You can ride a dirt bike or a bike with block adventure tyres on fresh snow, but modern road tyres have little tread so provide little grip on show.
To summarise, it’s best to leave the bike in the garage when its below 3 degrees, and the roads are wet.