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I knew it was going to be cooler this AM, riding before sunrise and frost on the car windows as I was leaving home. Since my bike lives in the garage, I got to slowly watch the temp drop on the gauge as I rode to work... hit 32 degrees F about 10 min into a 40 min ride.

I have heated grips, turned all the way up, barkbuster hand guards, and a larger Givi windscreen that keep me pretty much out of the wind. Also wear thicker/insulated winter gloves, lined jacket and lined over pants.

My upper and lower body were fine, but the helmet I have doesn't feel like I get much air circulation in the summer shows all the airflow in the winter. The tops of my hand get too cold, even when moving hand around the grips and trying to keep them moving.

I know I could get heated gear, but I worry about slick spots on the road when it gets below freezing. I think 34 degrees indicated on the bike is where I'm drawing the line

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I have heated gloves and jacket and along with insulated riding pants I'm good into the upper 20's. But I'm with you, once the temps get below freezing, ice becomes the problem. Even starting out in the morning with temps in the mid 30's, ice can still be on the road from the overnight.
 

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For the hands, skidoo muffs, or what some call Hippo Hands. That made a huge difference for me. With heated grips and light Klim Inversion gloves I'm good down to freezing with that setup.

For the rest of the body, heated gear is the way to go. I have my Olympia Richmond and Sentry pants over thin heated layers which is comfortable down to freezing. Below freezing I just add a light fleece on top of the heated jacket. I've been riding in 3-5 degree mornings comfortably without the fleece yet.

You do need to be careful, But if it's been relatively dry, you just drive cautiously. I'm going till the snow falls this year, whenever that may be.
 

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And be careful for your tire traction. I'd speculate most motorcycle tires weren't intended to be ridden at 34 degrees the same way they can at 74 degrees. The rubber may not act the same way at the cold temps, meaning they may not grip the pavement like they should. I've ridden in the 30 degree range enough that I don't bother anymore (I've proven my abilities to myself, that's enough for me), but below 40 my cautious nature really started taking over when I'd ride. Stiff rubber, exhaust condensation on a chocked on ramp creating frost or black ice, no sunshine and rush hour traffic... I've given up commuting by bike at this time of year. But I know that hearty feeling you get doing it.

Steve.
 

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H8, I'm with ya, even with heated grips and a vest, sub freezing riding for me is just not fun. I did get a pair of rechargeable battery Bluetooth heated insoles for ice fishing in Manitoba so they will come in handy if I am ever caught out on a long trip by colder weather.

I put the bike up her for winter around Thanksgiving. Once temps get below freezing the icy patches on these awesome twisty roads here can stay frosty well past noon if they are in the shade. By the time you are on top of them it's just too late.
 

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I find riding down to about 40 degrees enjoyable below that it start to feel like work.
I did once get caught on a road trip in a sudden cold snap, when starting out the following morning it was 17 degrees. Warmed up to mid 60s by noon, I should have sleep in!
 

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Balaclava or "Headsock"

I have a DEMI Balaclava which I keep in my tank bag this time of year. It's of the two-fabric design; a silk-like crown and a thicker fabric that comes down over the face, neck and collarbone area. Can't find Demi anymore, they were/are based in Petoskey MI. great headsock, similar to a Klim. I've had it for years and it is very effective at diminishing helmet draft while being only slightly more snug. The lower part does very well at keeping out wind in the face and neck area, and goes in the washer cold/cold/gentle & air dry.
My riding is 99% pleasure, so I don't have to commute, but It's nice to have starting out on a ride and remove it as temps warm. As the daylight gets shorter here, so do my rides. Temps around freezing, deer, frosty shade, more frequent fog keep the miles down, but I'll still get out for a few a 5mi/8km rides until the snow flies.
 
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Good point about the tires not having the same traction at low temps. They do still warm up. But I don't trust them leaning hard in those temps.

I have ridden when the clock/thermometer on the bank display on Main Street said 4 degrees (F). Didn't have a choice.

I have ridden a LOT in the 30's.

It isn't the first hour or two that gets you. It is the following several hours in those temps that will tell you if your gear works well.

Heated gear is wonderful. Safer in that you don't become constricted by too many layers! Keeps you functioning at your best.

So even if you draw the line at a certain temperature, heated gear can be a great solution to comfort. I use it when the temp is 60 and below. Comfort is good!
 

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I've noticed that suspension gets REALLY stiff when you dip much below freezing. Engine oil is designed to work at very low temps, but it's simply not a consideration for motorcycle suspension fluids.

Also, ice in the brakes will definitely get your attention.

I once rode home from work in a downpour. After the front came through during the night, it was well below freezing the next morning. Turns out there was still some water trapped in the calipers and/or rotors somewhere, and after a few blocks it froze and I had zero braking up front for a heart-stopping distance. No disasters, but that was a bit of a startler. I've had the same thing happen with frozen mud on my KLR650.

My ride to work is about 20 minutes, and I've learned you can withstand just about anything for 20 minutes. Moisture anywhere near freezing is generally a no-go, but I have ridden with snow falling several times.

As far as longer rides, I try to avoid anything below about 40F, but many times plans have gone awry...
 
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It isn't the first hour or two that gets you. It is the following several hours in those temps that will tell you if your gear works well.
^ This is the most important advice so far. I'll add that if you're shivering or your hands/feet are numb, you're in danger. That's the point where both judgment and fine motor control start to fade.

Some observations from nine years of winter riding:
- A neck warmer is a requirement, balaclava or vest can help
- Heated gloves are usually better than heated grips. If your bike spends its nights in moisture, replace the shitty barrel connectors with SAE
- If you're shivering or your hands/feet are numb, you're in danger
- For longer trips, some military surplus thermal pant liners are wonderful
- Your tires will never reach their design operating temperature, so don't ask too much of them

It's very possible your helmet just isn't up to the task. You might consider getting one designed for smowmobiling, they're designed with cold temperatures in mind.

Whether it's worth it is up to you. If you also have a car and there's any chance of black ice / snow, it would be foolish not to take it instead.
 

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Dry and cold...no problem. I ride down to about 15F comfortably. Wet and cold...take the car...
 

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Having had the experience of traveling on a motorcycle in West Texas and New Mexico over the Continental Divide in sub freezing temps and snow on the ground I can wholeheartedly state that I'd rather NOT do that again.
Gimme Death Valley in the middle of summer with a fresh wet vest.
And those that have mentioned they now have a respect for a certain temp point in not commuting, congratulations. You've developed a high level of common sense.....or you just got old! >:)
 

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Here on the west coast once fall hits the cool temperatures combine with the humidity to make it bone-chillingly cold. I've lived in the Yukon and I was more comfortable at 30 below than I am at 0 degrees on Vancouver Island.

Add in the frost and leaves everywhere because virtually all our side roads are tree-lined and the surfaces can be unexpectedly slippery and I park my bike for about 4 months until spring.

Finally, my insurance is $130 a month and I just can't justify that for 1 or two rides a month when the weather is bad.
 

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With Hippo Hands, heated grips and a heated jacket, I'm good to 35F. Below that, I start to worry about frost on the bridges and overpasses. With the Hippo Hands, I can wear light summer gloves and my hands stay warm and comfy. Don't bother with a vest. Go with a jacket.
 

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I routinely ride in temperatures below freezing. Generally 0f /-18c is my lowest and that's about the lowest that I'm comfy temperature wise

Gear is ultra important: Warm n Safe Heated jacket, Warm n safe heated gloves, for the last year as my circulations slows down Warm n Safe heated socks. Aerostich soft shell with the above takes me down just below freezing with another soft shell as it drops from there. Generally a cotton shirt for commuting (no undershirt) and for longer rides I add a t-shirt under the shirt.

Aerostich fleece pants go over my street pants and I start using them as I approach freezing (depends how long the ride will be.)

I also block off the bottom of my factory hand guards using some kydex I shaped.

I don't use thermal underwear as I find I get way too hot and sweaty when I stop and can't stand that feeling and the cold that comes when riding with damp underclothes.

..Tom
 

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Before I got the Gerbing and Aerostich stuff I had the Hein Gerike Dakar Leather suit. I was surprised that the leather worked as well as it did in the cold. For the ride to Texas I had installed a bunch of nichrome wires from a surplus store in the liner of the jacket. That convinced me that Mr Widder was on to something good. Widders' out of it but there are some dandy replacements now.
On the far side, the leathers worked in the summer too.
 

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Been in the low 30s here, my ski racing gloves work fine on the bike. The thing I dislike about heated gear is thst it can fail, insulation is insulation.

My jacket and underarmor 4.0 base layers are actually too warm in the 30s
 

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My very first road trip started on a December morning, with the temp around 15°F.

I was wearing about 20 lb. of layers, including 3 pairs of socks. While I was comfortable and warm, I also felt like the Michelin Man looks.

Since then, I've added heated gear and been able to shed layers.

I am considering purchase of this or something like it:

https://www.aerostich.com/aerostich-fleece-wind-triangle.html

I wear a Mission Multi-Cool year-round, but it does not stop cold air. That can get uncomfortable in sub-freezing temps. Especially on the interstate.

I'm not confident that buffs/mufflers will stay up, or fit under my helmet. I've tried balaclavas, but found that even a relatively thin one was enough to make my helmet painful.

You know what seems like it would work really well? A balaclava made from at least 2 different thicknesses of material. A very thin piece to go under the helmet, attached to a thicker insulating piece, extending well down the neck and onto the shoulders. The thin piece would act to keep the thicker piece from falling down.

Haven't seen anything like that for sale though.
 
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