Riding a Motorcycle on Snow: It Is Safe, What to Wear & Tips

I know so many people who have a motorcycle but due to the frequent snowfall in their country, they keep doubting if it is safe for them to ride a motorcycle in snow or not.

Is it possible to ride a motorcycle in the snow? Absolutely Yes. Motorcycles can be ridden in the snow and they even perform excellently in snow riding, but you must prepare the motorcycle itself for snow riding which means the motorcycle must be suitable for winter riding.

In this guide, I will give you some various tips to help you ride in the snow and will also tell you a lot of things you should know before you start snow riding. Things such as snow-riding equipment, if it is safe to ride in the snow, and how to prepare your motorcycle for snow riding.

So, let’s get started.

How can I ride a motorcycle in the snow?

Riding a motorcycle in the snow entails riding gently and not at crazy speeds because snow riding requires more effort than normal riding. You have to understand that as long as you prepare your motorcycle well for snow riding, there is no problem with it; it will cope well with snow riding.

Snow riding is not that common except in places where it rains most of the year like in Canada. I know tons of riders who are willing to ride in the snow while some even do it on an almost daily basis and it doesn’t bother them at all; they even love it.

In addition, note that if you do not prepare your motorcycle for snow riding, such as changing the tire fluids and the likes, you may accidentally cause damage to your motorcycle, so you must be very careful and prepared which I will explain below.

Is it dangerous to ride a motorcycle in the snow?

You have to understand that there is always a risk involved when you are riding a motorcycle, whether you are riding in snow or not. So, yes, riding a motorcycle in the snow would be more dangerous than riding in the sun and dry surface but that does not mean you really have to give up on riding in the snow because it has more risk involved. Also, if you will keep with all the safety rules that I will tell you later in this post, trust me, you will be safe.

In general, here are all the different reasons why snow riding can be a little more dangerous, and again, they shouldn’t stop you:

  • Hypothermia – Hypothermia happens not only to motorcyclists but in general to anyone who stays in the cold for a while. Hypothermia happens as a result of staying in very cold weather and the skin being exposed to the cold, which affects all parts of the body and can even lead to death. But it rarely happens and not very common, and by wearing clothes that are warm enough and suitable for winter riding, there is no danger of hypothermia.
  • Frostbite – Frostbite is another danger of riding in the snow and it only happens if you do not wear clothes that can keep you warm enough. You also need to understand that frostbite can most likely happen to motorcyclists because of the cold breeze flying over your skin when riding, which can lead to very pale and red skin to the point that you have to cut off the organ that has experienced the burns. This is also not common, and as long as all parts of your body are covered in warm clothing, there are slim chances that this will happen to you.
  • Chance of Slippage – In my opinion, the biggest danger of snow riding is the chance that you can slip when riding. You need to understand that snow riding requires a lot more stability and more effort and is more difficult, so try to ride first in tracks where there is no snow or even ice. It is also important for you to note that the max of snow depth you can ride is up to 8-10 inches, anything more than that is difficult and dangerous for you.
  • Snowstorm – I know this sounds very scary, but snowstorms are not very common, and if they happen, you can easily get out of the dangerous area by slowing down as quickly as possible.
  • Distractions – What I mean by distraction when riding in the snow is freezing and colds. These can be a very significant factor and distract you from the riding itself, so if you are not okay and sick, it is better to stay home and give up on riding.

Again, all these dangers will not happen if you will keep to the safety rules. Don’t let them scare you and prevent you from riding in the snow because most of these risks are what you take in winter riding, and there are also risks you take when riding in hot weather.

How to be safe when riding a motorcycle in the snow (Safety Tips)

So, after showing you the dangers of riding in the snow, I hope you understand that riding in the snow is more dangerous than riding on a dry surface, so you need to be twice as careful while here are some safety tips for you when riding in the snow.

Make sure you have anti-cold riding equipment

You have to understand that you can’t just ride in the snow with your regular clothes because it is very dangerous. So, ride with clothes that are meant for winter riding, that is, clothes that have good layers and protection from the cold.

Wearing your regular clothes will not only freeze you while riding but also has other risks like fatigue, lack of concentration, hypertension and frostbite which can be very dangerous. So, make sure you wear warm clothes that will cover all parts of the skin and you should not leave even a bare skin to the cold.

Anti-cold riding equipment includes warm pants, coat, several layers of shirts, sock hat, gloves, thermal underwear, warm socks, goggles, and of course, a helmet. If you wear all this equipment, believe me, you will be protected from the cold. Also, if you feel the clothes you have are not good enough to keep you warm, it’s important not to compromise and add another layer for protection from the cold.

Do not ride at high speeds in the snow

The most dangerous thing you can do when riding in the snow is to ride at high speeds. This significantly increases your risk of having a life-threatening accident because you must realize that snow is very slippery and not easy to ride. You have to be very careful, be serious and keep your speed low when riding in the snow.

Stay focused and don’t ride when you are tired

Snow riding requires a lot of focus and alertness and you can’t ride in the snow when you are tired because it can distract you and can cause you to make a mistake which can endanger you. So, it is very important to be focused because every mistake has consequences, especially when you are riding in the snow.

Do not ride on heavy snow

It is very dangerous to ride on heavy snow because you won’t be balanced and be less stable, which can cause you to slip quickly. Therefore, only ride on light snow, not more than 10 inches deep. Anything more than that is very dangerous.

Do not ride in the snow at night

I strongly recommend you to refrain from riding in the snow at night because it is very dangerous and involves a lot of risks, especially when there is not enough snow and if you are riding on streets where there is no good lighting. So, if you do not have to ride in the snow at night, don’t do it, and if you decide to, even if there is enough snow, make sure you have flashlights and ride with clothes that are visible.

Be prepared with the brake

When riding in snow or even ice, you have to put your foot on the brakes often because if you lose stability, which is very common, you won’t be able to stop before the disaster happens.

Get a windshield

The most significant cause of frostbite and even hypothermia is the cold wind that blows when riding, which can damage your health and even make you colder and worse which is very annoying. So, the only way you can significantly reduce the amount of wind that blows when riding is to get a windshield on your motorcycle.

In general, there are tons of windshield available and you can find lots on Amazon. Since it is very simple to install and remove a windshield, I highly recommend you to do it.

How to prepare your motorcycle for snow riding

snow-covered tree lot during daytime

Before you go out to ride in the snow, there are some things you will need to change in your motorcycle so that your motorcycle can cope better with the wintry weather conditions. Not doing these things can result in your motorcycle getting damaged, so it is important to read all of the following things carefully and do them.

  • Replace your tires – This is not mandatory, but if you feel your tires are worn and old, I strongly recommend you replace them because worn tires will not survive in the snow. I will even recommend that you install tire screws, which will significantly improve your stability when riding in the snow and even your safety.
  • Check your tire pressure – It is also very important to check your tire pressure and make sure it is normal because cold temperatures can greatly affect tire pressure, so check to make sure everything is stable.
  • Use coolant – This is super important. Use coolant to fill the radiator because the coolant will help you prevent freezing.
  • Check the battery and terminals – It’s very important to make sure your battery is good. If your battery is fair or old, I recommend you replace it because the cold weather can kill it. You must also check the voltage of the battery which should be around 12 volts and the terminals should also look clean and proper.
  • Make sure your headlights are working – If you decide to ride in the snow at night and you are willing to take the risk, then it is important to check and ensure that the headlights and taillights are working well. If the lighting intensity does not satisfy you, I recommend that you consider adding more headlights to the motorcycle to have the maximum lighting power.
  • Buy Heated Grip – I highly recommend you to install heated grips so that you will not only feel cold when riding in the snow but also in winter, which makes it very easy for your hand, especially when you don’t want to wear gloves.
  • Avoid Rat – The most annoying thing that can happen to your motorcycle when riding in the snow is a rat in particular, and the snow is a bit heavy, so it’s important that you use rust-preventing materials to prevent it.
  • Check your power system – It’s important to make sure your power system is functioning properly and has no exposed cables or anything that can cause damage. I would even recommend you call on a professional technician or friend who understands and know how to deal with electricity to check your power system for you.

General tips for riding a motorcycle in the snow

  • Cover the motorcycle – You must not leave your motorcycle outside in the snow. It can simply damage it. It will destroy all the electrical components, including the engine. But if you already decide to leave your motorcycle outside, at least make sure it is covered, and the best thing to do is to put it in the basement or your home, in a warm place.
  • Do not drive if the temperature is below 32 degrees Celsius – If the outside temperature is very low, that is, below 32 degrees, it means you should not even bother to leave home because it is very dangerous and there is a very high chance of experiencing frostbite and even hypothermia and ice will even be on most surfaces and roads. So, it is better to give up if the temperature is very low, especially when it does have ice because motorcycles can handle snow but notice.
  • Try to drive as slow as possible in the snow – If you are on a highway and there are both dry sides and sides covered with snow, it is important that you choose the side that has no snow to make yourself safer.
  • Plan for more time when riding in the snow – When riding in winter, there are more traffic jams and delays that can happen because of many reasons, such as a tree collapsing or snow blocking the road, so every time you plan on driving where there is snow, consider adding another 15 to 30 minutes to your usual time.  For example, if you have to get to work early, then leave your home half an hour lesser than the usual time you leave.
  • Give your engine a few minutes to warm up before riding – You should generally give your motorcycle’s engine time to warm up before going into the cold weather. This is even more important because your engine can be very cool and taking it straight into the cold weather without warming can damage it.
  • Watch out for cracks or ice – One of the most dangerous things that can happen to you when riding a motorcycle in the snow is to accidentally hit a crack which can lead to a life-threatening accident and also ruin your tire or wheel. So, it’s important to be very watchful, be at alert, and not move in places that have ice or cracks because they can be very dangerous, especially when riding in the snow.
  • Increase your range of vision – When riding in the snow, you must be very focused and watch as far as possible to avoid danger.
  • Take along more gear with you – If you can take another jacket or any other available equipment along, kindly do to prepare for the worst scenario.
  • Drink water – Don’t forget to drink water too, it will help you be alert. A lot of people forget that when going for snow riding.
  • Drive with higher gear – High gear will help you a lot when riding in the snow and will make your riding more fun and stable than riding with a low gear which is not recommended.
  • If there is too much snow, go back home – If you know it will drop huge amounts of snow, I would recommend giving up on the ride because it can be very dangerous for you if you do not have tires that can deal with heavy snow; therefore, be alert to weather forecasts.
  • Don’t ride for too long – If you don’t know, riding in the cold is very tiring and that’s why you shouldn’t try to ride for too long because there are chances that you will lose control which could endanger you.
  • Don’t drink coffee before riding in the snow – I know it is a very good thing to drink coffee before riding and it looks like it will keep you warm, but the truth is that it can be very dangerous especially drinking coffee before riding in the snow because the coffee raises your blood pressure which can release heat from your body. So, it is better to avoid drinking coffee before riding in the cold.

What you need to wear for riding a motorcycle in the snow?

  • Boots – Boots are super important and you will need to buy not just regular boots but boots that are waterproof because if you do not wear boots, your legs will suffer from cold.
  • Gloves – The purpose of gloves is to protect your hands and keep them warm while it is important to know that there is a difference between summer gloves and winter gloves that will keep your hands warm. I strongly advise you not to go for snow riding without gloves because there is nothing more terrible than riding with cold hands.
  • Thermal Socks – In addition to your boots, you will also need to buy thermal socks to help protect your feet from cold because your feet are part of your body that is very sensitive to cold; therefore, the boots themselves are not enough, so you will also need to buy thermal socks.
  • Barclava – If your helmet is not enough to keep you warm, I would highly recommend you buy Barclava to keep your head warm while most people do not like Barclava because it is not so comfortable but it is better than suffering from cold.
  • Jacket – Jacket is one of the most important gear you need to buy for snow riding while you need to make sure your Jacket is warm. If a jacket is not enough for you, I will even recommend you wear 2 Jackets, especially if you don’t have a coat.
  • Long pants – It is important to buy warm long pants for snow riding because the usual jean may not be enough. The best pants I know are from Focus Company; they have the best pants in the snow riding market.
  • Thermal Underwear – Thermal underwear is also an important item to keep you warm.

For any questions, you may have or opinion on the article, feel free to write us a comment, and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Thanks for reading, until the next post.


I’m Rob, the owner of RX Riders Place. My family and I have a long history of riding dirt bikes and ATVs and want to share what we have learned.

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