Thermals? Check. ‘I’m just popping out, dear’

All that well-intentioned squit last month I wrote about workshop jobs to do? Well, I, er, there’s an issue. You see, as lucky as it is working around bikes, you are constantly reminded just how much fun riding them is, like my friend Martin, above, on his wonderful Guzzi Ambassador. Never mind that the temperature is waning, light is as sparse as an honest MP and your bike gets covered in the detritus left behind the sugar beet harvest (city folk may be allowed not to worry about that one…), it’s still so tempting to get out for a ride – depending on the condition of your bike.

You see all those beautiful bikes at shows? The ones with every nut and bolt carefully polished, tyres so gleaming with show shine that you could shave in the reflection, where the owner has spent ages – nigh years – to locate the exact parts to recreate the bike as was new? Remember that feeling of envy when you see them? Maybe even the feeling of disappointment towards your own bike? These show bikes are wonderful and they inspire others to tackle their projects. But if you have a ‘normal’ bike, a bike with a few warts, battle-scars, even, dare I say it, non-genuine parts, you can regain your dignity – in a way a show bike never could – by riding it.

Many would consider it utter madness to take a show-standard bike out in the Winter, for jolly good reasons, too. But if your bike isn’t like that, why park it up? There is much riding fun to be had where others fear to tread.

That is, providing you take some simple steps. Firstly, look after yourself. To hell with looking the part, modern textile clothing has armour, should be waterproof and comfortable. Many thin layers work better than Grannie’s knitted Jersey in keeping you toasty and invest in some decent gloves. And a neck tube – save the silk scarf for Spring. Use a full-face helmet, one with an anti-mist visor and you should be warm and safe.

Now the bike. Good tyres are a must, as is predictable fuelling on slimy roads – mine recently got all ‘spluttery’ on me but after consulting the Oracle, which I couldn’t summon so I had to put up with a mardle to the ol’ boys down the local, I drained the fuel bowl, as some water had got in. Polish the shiny bits and use a good protectorant (ACF50 is my favourite but there’s Scottoil F365 and loads of others), lube the cables and make sure you’ve got the thinner oil in for the colder weather. Oh, and check the battery works, as the daylight goes quicker than you think – like I didn’t the other day. Never been so popular, everyone was waving and flashing me…

Pick a relevant route. Stop when you want to, carry on if you don’t. I got a wonderful reception from a tea-shop ‘up the coast’ on a particularly cold day. The old bike was an instant talking point and I got a free cuppa, feigning cold. It is a really liberating experience, and for those that already ride in the Winter, I’m hoping you’re wearing a contented smile. Even the bikes love it, not sitting there unloved for months while its petrol goes stale, batteries go flat and seals dry out. Until you get home and have to clean the bike that is. That part never gets any better.

And when weather really does stop play? Then it’s time to stop procrastinating and get on with that list of jobs. Good luck and be good.

Matt Hull

Do you ride in all weathers? If you do, would you kindly drop us a line and a pic if you have one? Would love to see them and if we get enough we’ll pop them in the mag. Email them to or send them in to the address on the right. Must shoot now, got to clean that damn bike…