Jaybird180

Weather Minimums

9 posts in this topic

Do you have an idea of certain criterion for weather under which you will not ride? If you street ride, are there times were you look outside and you say emphatically "NO", even when your friends are ready to go?

 

What if you get to the track and the conditions differ from the forecasts? What's your "no go" on weather?

 

Are the answers to these questions based on your approximation of your own skill, comfort level (for me, I don't like cold air blasting through my helmet vents), or some engineered limitation of the machine or tires you're using?

 

I'll contribute my minimums:

I had a experience once going home from my grandmothers on my bike at night and cold. I think it was an unseasonably cold autumn night and my full gauntlet gloves had ram air vents, I was wearing my perforated 1-PC leather and before I bought a chin skirt for my helmet. I wanted to get home fast because I was cold, but the faster I went the more cold air I was exposed to. It was miserable and I couldn't find a comfortable speed for the trip. I even stopped for a few minutes on the side of the road to gather my thoughts and decided to push through. I was concerned that my hands were getting stiff and that it may compromise control and thus safety. I decided to NEVER repeat that experience.

 

I established a commuting baseline temperature of 60dF with an upward trend and to be back home at a reasonable time before temperatures drop below 60F. I also won't go out in the early morning if it rained the night before or if it's raining out. I will continue to ride if it starts when I'm out or if it rains mid-day - I don't pull over or park under a bridge like I've seen others (particularly cruisers) do.

 

Trackday: I try to stick with temps above 60. I've ridden the track in light rain and cool weather and didn't care much for it. Everyone was slow that day on a fast track. The rain abated later the day. I prefer clear skies versus overcast days.

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I hardly ever ride on the street anymore but for a dirt of dual-sport ride, below around 45 degrees (assuming it is not raining or windy) is where I start to say "no thanks." If it is raining, I don't think I'd want to go if it was below about 55 F, I don't have good enough gear to stay warm in conditions that are BOTH cold and wet.

 

For track riding, if I've hauled my butt over there to ride, I'm gonna ride. The coldest temp I've ridden for a morning race practice was 27 deg F, and I've raced in Vegas with snowflakes starting to come down. :) My "no-go" criteria is usually based on safety, not comfort. If I thought the track was unsafe I would not ride, but in my experience most track day/race orgs/schools would make that call before me. Or, if fellow riders were riding unsafely, I might decline to ride - I have decided to sit out a cold morning race practice because I was seeing so many falls and did not want to get caught up in someone else's crash.

 

High winds would make me think twice - I definitely wouldn't take a street ride in winds above about 40-50 mph, and at the track if I was on a small bike like my Moriwaki, I'd stop when the bike started to get pushed significantly sideways (more than about 8 feet sideways scares me!!) However, at a race I would definitely run in windy conditions - that has been an advantage for me in the past, as paying attention to changing conditions and good riding technique have kept me riding well when some competitors were misjudging entry speed and running wide (or off the track) due to not noticing and accounting for the extra push from the wind!

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I'm rethinking my 60 degree minimum temp but it will NOT be as low as 27F, that's for sure!!!

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27, HELL NO!

 

Had a cold day at Loudon some years ago, raining and 37...that wasn't a lot of fun.

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These days I ride for fun/sport though in my younger days I used to ride everywhere rain or shine as long as in 40's and no snow/ice. My commute now to work is over busy highways that are always congested and not in best shape, so I don't risk it. I prefer all my miles be out on the back roads and enjoyable.

 

So these days my cutoff is 55 degrees (else its hard to get heat in tires or me even in 1 piece leathers), and no expected rain. Rain doesn't bother me so if an unexpected shower pops up its no big deal.

 

Here in Cincy, in the fall some of my favorite back roads get covered with leaves and acorns (or some type nut). Can be interesting in blind corners. Not really weather, but fall winds are the cause.

 

Oh, in 1977, we had record snow and -25 below zero temps. Being 18 I thought it would be funny to go ride my street/trail around the neighborhood to say I rode in -25. I was never so cold so quick in my life!

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For me anything lower than 48 degrees is just not comfortable. I live in Atlanta GA and we have a lot of humidity year round. 47 degree moist air is pretty miserable even bundled up. I avoid riding when I'm not comfortable. Even with heated grips and warm gear it's just not enjoyable.

 

On the track it's much the same. Anything lower than 48 and it's kind of miserable but I'll ride on DOT tires if it's around or above 48. For slicks anything lower than 58 degrees and the risk and benefit equation does not really work anymore for me. Too much of a risk of the tires cooling off anything lower than 58.

 

I recently did a track day at Barber where we started the morning below freezing and we got up to a high of 58. There was an amazing amount of crashes due to cold tires.

 

Even more important than what weather you will ride in is "how will you adapt your riding to take for the present conditions". Those conditions could be rain or cold or even extreme heat. Failing to adapt to the conditions could put you at risk for a costly mistake. You might have visited a track hundreds of times but every time you go it's different conditions each time. The amount of grip that you have changes based on these conditions.

 

At the day at Barber I had slicks on my bike so I skipped the morning sessions and waited until it warmed up. Contrary to popular belief you don't have to ride every session. I got two decent sessions in during the afternoon. Unfortunately the crashes continued even during the warmer part of the day due to riders not taking conditions into account. You can't ride like it's an 80+ degree day when it's not 80+ degrees out.

 

P.S. I find it really helpful to have one of those laser thermometers in my trailer. It might sound nerdy but going out in the paddock and just getting a ball park of the pavement temp is really helpful. On a super hot day it can save you from overheating your tires especially if the pavement temp is 140+ degrees on a hot day. On a cold day you can measure the temps in the sun and in the shade and get an idea of what you are working with. Taking it to the edge of traction on a shady and cooler part of the track's surface could really get you if you don't have a baseline understanding of what you are working with.

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Even more important than what weather you will ride in is "how will you adapt your riding to take for the present conditions". Those conditions could be rain or cold or even extreme heat. Failing to adapt to the conditions could put you at risk for a costly mistake. You might have visited a track hundreds of times but every time you go it's different conditions each time. The amount of grip that you have changes based on these conditions.

 

 

This is so very true! Well said.

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Eh, with a few miles on bikes in different conditions here is how I adapt: I reach for the keys to my very nice 4 wheel drive GMC Sierra.

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