Motorcycle Owners Club

Honda CG125 but also some universal motorcycle information

Riding in Winter

Page Contents

Rider

Bike

 

Helmet

If you need more warmth in the helmet, buy a thermal balaclava.

If you live in the UK, fogging / misting up is often a problem in some weather conditions.

Ride Magazine (Motorcycle News) reviewed many of the visor Anti Fog devices.
http://www.motorcyclenews.com/upload/Ride%20Magazine/Product%20test%20pdfs/3%20MAR08%20visordemist%20test.pdf

It's well worth reading, the only thing I would add is that the stick on visor inserts do not last forever.
All the shops I have spoken to, say they last about 1 year before the glue fails (so you have to buy a new one).

My helmet came with an anti fog plastic film on the inside of the visor,
unlike the visor inserts, it does not have an air gap between it and the visor.
This means you get no reflections between the two,
but it's only half effective at preventing fogging. It also started to peel off after a while.
It's not available to buy; it just comes already installed on some visors.
Most helmet manufacturers have abandoned it since it's not good enough; they have gone over to the pinlock inserts.

Ride Magazine confirms what I and others have always found, all Anti Fog sprays are useless, total waste of time and money.
Except Ride Magazine did find one, Shift-It anti-fog, not quite as good as the options below.

Ride Magazine also found Fog Tech, a wipe (also available in bottle form) that works very well (preventing fogging 100%).
But like the spray, only lasts for a while, the wipe can be re used until it dries out.

All visor inserts work brilliantly, preventing fogging 100%. This is due to the sealed air gap between the visor and the insert.
But they do create a slight reflection, most noticeable with oncoming headlights in the dark.
Pinlock, if your visor already has the pinlock pins,
the pins version is the best since you can easily install and remove it, since no glue is used.
Fog City, sticks to your visor.
Bob Heath Fog Demon, sticks to your visor, not sure if it's harder to install than the Fog City.

Coat

Please read my GORE-TEX Coat Review,
it will show you what makes a good motorcycle coat in winter and why it's so important.
After many years experience with coats, it is the only type of coat I can very highly recommend.
Also after a lot of research, it looks like what makes the coat so special is not only the aerodynamics,
but also the GORE-TEX liner, lesser liners do not breath as well,
resulting in a much colder coat in winter, hotter in summer and not pleasant in the rain, but they do cost a lot less money.

If you have a leather coat, you can get near to the warmth of the coat above (but with far more side effects),
by doing the following.
A leather coat lets a lot of cold wind through the main zip (and a little through the seams).
You could put a large map or bubble wrap inside the coat,
but to substantially improve the warmth, put Water Proofs over the leather, or anything that stops wind.
The main problem of putting something over the leather coat is it will increase wind resistance a bit (125cc engines will notice).

If your leather coat is big enough, you can also put multiple layers of clothes on underneath.
A thermal vest followed by a thick mountain fleece for example.

You can also fit a Screen.

I have used all of the above (except map or bubble wrap) and was 100% warm even at near 0 c on a 65 mile ride headwind.

Trousers

Please see my GORE-TEX Trousers Review, to read about the benefits of those types of trousers in winter.

Or you could try wearing thin thermal trousers (I use sports thermal trousers), then put a pair of normal thick jeans over the top,
the jeans will need to be one size larger than you normally wear due to the thermal trousers underneath.
When it's really cold, put Water Proofs over the top to totally stop the wind.
I have done all of the above and was 100% warm even at near 0 c on a 65 mile ride headwind (even my knees were warm).

But my GORE-TEX Trousers Review is at least as warm and has far less side effects.

Boots

To find out how good a boot can be in winter, as well as what to look out for in a boot and how to use them in the rain,
please see my Motorcycle Boots Review

Otherwise get a thick insulated (if possible) pair of boots and make them one size too big for your feet.
Put two pairs of thick thermal socks on so the boot fits (also try normal sock with a thermal sock over the top, maybe warmer),
the next trick is to stop the cold wind getting through the boots, over boots Water Proofs when it's really cold.
I have done all of the solutions above.
And only a couple of my toes started getting a little cold after 65 miles of headwind at near 0 c.
Moving my toes slightly in the boots while riding soon warmed them up (mainly getting them away from the tip of the boot).

If you look at my Motorcycle Boots Review you will see the boots are much warmer,
without any hassle of the things above except for a single pair of thick thermal socks.

Hands

You can wear winter motorcycle gloves that are big enough to put thermal under gloves inside,
you could also try over gloves to try to stop the wind chill.
The thicker the glove and the more layers you have under or over it the harder it will be to control the bike.

A 3 finger glove is warmer than 5
please see my 3 Finger Winter Glove Review
to find out how low and how far a 3 finger design can go.

Heated grips need power from the engine,
the Honda CG125 is a small engine and may struggle to cope with the electrical demands (battery may struggle to recharge).

All of the above will not ultimately fix the cold problem since it's the wind chill that's the problem.

Air Temperature Wind Speed Wind Chill
  (bike speed with no wind)  
3c 30 mph -4c (that's 7c lower)
3c 30 mph -6c (that's 9c lower)

No matter how many layers you put on your hands, it only slows down the wind chill
(it will eventually get through all the layers and freeze your fingers).
The solution is to deflect the wind away from your hands and that requires plastic that attaches to the bike.
The plastic will deflect the wind away and is also a very good insulator;
the air gap between the plastic and your hands is also a good insulator.
It is also slightly more aerodynamic than your hands (very slightly) and will not get in the way of the bike controls or your hands.
It will reduce how wet your gloves get in the rain, since it's the wind that normally pushes the water in to the glove.
The plastic is often called Handguards or Hand Protectors.
I have read about people who have made their own out of plastic milk bottles.
Some Handguards attach to the clutch and brake levers (where the nut and bolt goes through, may need a longer bolt).
Some Handguards attach to the ends of the handlebar, others to the main part of the handlebar (not the ends).

Acerbis MX Uniko Handguard (not the vented version) costs around £20 to £25
for a pair and includes the mounting / fitting kit unlike some handguards.

These were the only Handguards I could find (there are other handguards on the market) at any of my local motorcycle shops.
Only a special off road motorcycle shop had them in stock since they are normally fitted to off road bikes.
They are not ideal but are much, much better than nothing (I can often ride in winter with my summer gloves because of them);
I covered the air slits with black tape on the inside.
The Handguards attach to the handlebars. I fitted them to the front disc brake Honda CG125.
The right hand one was easy and went straight on
(I did have to loosen the brake lever / mirror part where it attaches to the handlebar and then tighten it up again).
But the left one cannot go in the normal place because the indicator switch is in the way,
so I had to put it on the other side of the clutch / left mirror.
The problem is the clutch on this model of Honda CG125 has 2 electrical wires sticking out
that stops the handguard handlebar bracket from fitting.
So I filed down the plastic handguard bracket (removed black part in diagram above) to fit
(I actually used an electric grinding wheel, plastic is very soft and easy).
I unplugged the 2 electrical wires
and had to loosen the clutch / mirror part where it attaches to the handlebar in order to get it to fit.
Then I was able to tighten it up again and put the 2 electrical wires back on.
It was easy to get the clutch, brake and mirrors back in to the original position
since I used a ruler to find where they went on the handlebars.
I also looked in the mirrors to make sure they were not pointing up or down.
In summer the handguards can easily be removed without removing the handlebar part
since there is a nut and bolt as you can see in the picture above.
The handguards are not very high so I had to adjust them so they protected my fingers.
I found the best way to find were the wind was hitting was to ride in cold wind with no gloves on.
I found my left and right hand fingers were all protected from the wind,
even my left hand little finger that visually was not protected by the handguard.

You can easily obtain Handlebar muffs at most motorcycle shops and loads of people report they really work well.
But they do have several disadvantages compared to the Handguards.
Some people have reported that cheap badly designed ones
can let the wind push them against the brake lever slightly resulting in a warped brake disc.

Walking on Ice

The UK winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 were incredibly bad for cold, snow, ice and length of time.
Resulting in major transport problems for all vehicles and planes.

The conditions were so bad that many people walking, slipped on ice and ended up in hospital with broken bones.
The worse effected were healthy adults around 18 to 40 years old despite them being very careful.
The reason they had the most accidents was they had to go out;
other people often stayed at home far more when things were very bad.

I learned an awful lot during those 2 winters, since I do not have a car; I only have a motorcycle, bicycle and my feet.
My street is not gritted (no salt).
Snow was no problem, had no trouble walking on fresh un compacted snow.
Ice is a different story, especially when it has been around for a long time, polished smooth by car drivers and it's melting.
My street like many others became impossible to walk on with normal shoes,
no matter how careful you are on the pavement or the road.
The pavement next to people's driveways was the most dangerous due to the slope
+ repeated car tyres slipping and polishing the ice super smooth.

When the ice was not melting, I found with the right shoes / boots I could get enough grip to be reasonably safe if I was careful.
Basically my advice is try on all the shoes / boots you have around and see.
An old trick many people have learned is to put rubber bands over their shoes to aid traction.

But when the ice is melting, polished smooth and a very slight slope all shoes / boots I had were useless.
Everyone else I noticed trying to walk were the same.
No traction at all, so would slide uncontrollably no matter how careful or slow you went.
The reason for this is the very thin layer or water sitting on top of the ice, it removes all the grip.

The only answer with melting ice, is metal spikes.
The cheap ones may wear out very quickly, so I bought the highest quality ones I could find at the time.
Nora Spiky Plus, I think they are also known as Petzl Spiky Plus.
Loads of internet companies sell them.
There is also a version called Spiky (without the Plus at the end), which has no spikes on the heel.

These metal spikes are attached to rubber overshoes, that slip over your existing shoes or boots.
You can take them on and off in a very few seconds and they will fit in to most pockets.
You can even ride a bicycle with them on and may even be able to drive a car.

The Spiky Plus stopped all slipping and sliding no matter how bad the ice / slope / uneven / melting / water/ smooth etc. was.
I could even walk as fast as I wanted and be as clumsy as possible and still no sign of slipping.
I could even run with them on with no problem,
but due to the speed had to be careful when accelerating and decelerating too quickly else I could slide a little (but not much).
Walking with the spikes on ice, snow, mud or grass etc. was so easy and effortless,
you could not tell you had spikes on or that you were walking on anything slippery.

The Spiky Plus also has the ability to flip the heel spikes up and over the back of the shoe / boot to disable them.
This was handy when the conditions were not bad,
since on pavements / roads that had no ice / snow on, it made walking easier.
But if you are going to walk a lot without any snow / ice around I would take the spikes off since they will slow you down

Without the spikes on the heels on bad ice your heel can easily slip a little, if you twist your weight sideways on the heel.
You learn to shift your bodyweight on to your toes to avoid this,
my advice is to use the heal spikes since you do not have to then.

An alternative to slip on metal spikes is golf shoes with inbuilt spikes in them, these apparently work but I have not tried them.

I also learned you could ride a pedal bicycle slowly on level smooth melting ice,
even though you could not walk with normal shoes on in those conditions.

As for riding a motorcycle, I did not try on any ice or snow.
You need loads of natural talent and experience to be able to ride a motorcycle in those conditions and luck!
A lightweight motorcycle, single cylinder of 125cc or less is possible, big heavy bikes are impossible.

If I had to ride a motorcycle in ice or snow,
to be safe I would only be prepared to walk with it until I got to a gritted road (with no ice or snow).
To be really safe,
I would use the Spiky Plus spikes on my feet
and have another person with the same spikes on the other side of the motorcycle.
With both of us slowly pushing either side of the bike,
one hand on the handlebars and the other near the rear of the motorcycle,
it should be impossible for the bike to slip over in either direction.

Another alternative would be to leave the motorcycle near a gritted road (with no snow or ice), then clear its path to the road.
And then simply walk between home and it.

Silencer / Exhaust

Do not put oil or grease on the silencer; it will burn off and leave a stain. In winter you must keep cleaning it.

The exhaust / silencer constantly likes to rust.

If it's really bad (if it's not see the paragraphs below this one), you may have to paint it,
a spray can gives a better finish than a brush.
Ideally you want a high temperature paint (at least 200c, 400c or higher should be perfect),
in the UK, Halfords sell it (for car exhausts).
But the choice of colours is very restrictive, but there are loads of colour choice with no heat rating
(like Hammerite Smooth Silver metal paint).
The main problem with paint with no heat rating is the colour will change at hot spots, like the exhaust,
e.g. Hammerite Smooth Silver will turn slightly yellow/gold).
Some people may like this effect, but always test the colour of paint before using,
the labels showing the colour are not always accurate
(one companies aluminium actually had what looked like grey primmer inside!).

If the exhaust and silencer are not too bad, you will not need to paint it.
Clean the rust off with Autosol
(car shops, it's metal polish that claims not to scratch, the toothpaste tube type version is best, not the liquid bottle version).
If Autosol does not get all the rust off, try again with more Autosol but rub more and harder,
keep doing this over and over until it has all gone.

There is one thing you can put on the silencer.
I recommend Mer Car polish; it's normally sold in most shops for waxing car paint.
But it can also be used on chrome or stainless steel silencers and can stand the heat when the bike is used.
Mer Car polish is expensive but you use hardly any on a motorcycle so the smallest bottle will last almost forever.
I put 2 coats on, it has substantially improved the rusting problem, there is no sign of the polish,
the silencer is just protected more and shining as much or better than before.
When the polish eventually wears off the silencer, it will no longer be smooth to touch,
simply put another coat or two of Mer Car polish on again.
If you notice the silencer rusting in a few places it's because the polish has worn off totally,
use Autosol (see above) to remove rust and put Mer Car polish back on.
Autosol will also remove Mer Car polish, so you must put Mer Car polish back on again.

If you are confused about how both Autosol and Mer Car polish both claim to polish and protect afterwards, I have found,
Autosol removes rust very well but is useless at protecting metal from rusting afterwards,
Mer Car polish is useless at removing rust but is very good at protecting metal from rusting.

Rest of the Bike

Clean the bike before the salt is put on the roads, and before it's too cold for your fingers to work on the bike.
When the bikes clean, you need to protect it from the salt on the roads.
You need some form of grease to stick to the cold exposed (not painted) metal parts.
You could use Vaseline or any universal grease.

I use a multi-purpose lithium based grease (available from most car shops and some DIY stores car sections),
the 500 gram tub has lasted over 6 winters.
It's a thick grease and is very water resistant (try washing it off your hands without soap),
It has never been washed off with rain or road spray during the winter and has not allowed corrosion beneath it.
The brand I use is no longer available,
but for example the Comma brand costs £6 in Halfords or £3 in Wilkinson's (car section) for a 500 gram tub.

Smear it on the wheel rims and the spokes, the spokes are the most difficult and important since they are not chromed.

Put grease on the chrome forks,
but not the part that goes up and down the rubber suspension part (see Chrome Front Forks section below).

Grease the chrome Honda badge on the forks and the chrome headlight ring.

Grease the back brake pedal (not the part your foot touches), gear shift, handle bars
and all the nuts and bolts you can find on the bike.

Grease the outside bottom part of the rear suspension (chrome part).
The chrome inside the rear suspension can be treated with engine oil, using a cotton bud or anything to reach inside
(again do not treat the bit that goes up and down the rubber suspension seal,
you do not need to clean it since it's protected by the front of the bike).

You do not want the grease on the bike in spring or summer; the insects will stick to it.
So clean it off with a cloth, you can also spay a little WD40 on to the cloth to make it much easier (be careful with WD40,
see notes about it below).

When grease is not practical on some parts of the motorcycle,
WD40 and motorcycle chain spray can often be used to protect metal.
WD40 can also be used on the electrical system and as a degreaser
(be careful near important grease like in the wheel bearings,
WD40 will run in and dissolve it)
WD40 does not last long and washes off relatively quickly so has to be reapplied often (unlike thick grease).
WD40 is often sprayed (without the pipe) on to engine fins,
this does smell when the engine is hot but does protect it from corrosion.
Chain spray (do not use on engine fins) is much thicker and lasts longer than WD40,
it is also better than WD40 at getting in to rust and protecting it from further corrosion.

Mer Car polish is good at protecting the painted body work of the bike
(also good in summer to protect it from insects and the sun).
Mer Car polish can also be used on all other polished surfaces, like chrome and plastic.

There is a product I have not tried called ACF50
Loads of motorcyclists use this to protect their bikes when riding in winter.
It is a very expensive product, but people claim it lasts many times longer than alternatives (like WD40),
does a much better job and you use very little of it.
So it does not work out so expensive in the long run.
You can find much more about this product on the internet including reviews (just do a search for it).
But like WD40 and Chain spray, it will eventually wash off;
thick grease in my experience never washes off (so I can forget about it all winter).

Chrome Front Forks

The Chrome part that goes in and out of the fork leg as the suspension goes up and down is a rust / pitting problem,
especially when salt is on the road (in winter), but even in summer if your unlucky and a stone chips the chrome.

As the Chrome slides in and out of the fork leg, it goes through one or two rubber O rings, that stop the oil in the leg getting out.
As well as a large rubber dust seal that goes over the outside of the fork leg, which is clearly visible.

Depending on the amount of rust / pitting and its severity, the O ring will be ripped and torn to pieces.
Then oil will escape from the forks,
this is an instant MOT failure in the UK (see Fork Gaiters section below on how to get around this).

This is a very common problem with motorcycles
and has been made much worse over recent years due to lower quality chrome.

If your forks have not pitted / rusted to much yet (if they have see New Forks or Repairing old ones section below),
prevention is much better and cheaper than waiting until it gets bad.

Loads of mechanics have told me to rub a bit of WD40 on them (put WD40 on a piece of cloth) after cleaning them.
Of course in winter when salt is on the road, you must clean them after every ride.
This is too much effort for me and is not as effective as Fork Gaiters section below.

Fork Gaiters

These are the ultimate, best, tried and tested for many, many years to stop rust / pitting, stone chips.
And in the UK, a MOT person is not allowed to look under them to see if oil is escaping from the fork leg.

Fork Gaiters are rubber or plastic that,
completely covers the chrome part of the fork that slides in and out of the fork leg.

This means nothing, not even water will get under them,
so the chrome is 100% protected, never needs to be cleaned etc.

Fork Gaiters will compress and expand without affecting the suspension
and will not rub the chrome as the suspension moves.

Fork Gaiters are very cheap £9 to £16 a pair.
and good quality ones should last the lifetime of the bike (or at least many, many years).

They are not very difficult to install,
but do need the forks removed from the bike, a mechanic should not charge much to fit them,
my advice would be shop around until you find a mechanic that charges as little as possible (it's a quick and simple job).

If your confident you want to change them yourself (if your confident you can do it), the main parts are
take front wheel out,
you probably have a plastic manufactures badge between the forks (remove it and look for bolts holding the forks),
always remove one fork at a time and have one in the bike and fully tightened up to stop the alignment going out,
mudguard may not need to be removed if you only undo one side at a time as you remove a fork.
The forks are probably attached to the steering / chassis in 2 places with rings.
Before removing a fork, look at the very top; see how far it's sticking out of the ring (look for a mark or grove).
There is a large rubber dust seal around the outside of the fork leg (chrome tube slides in and out of it),
remove it, the gaiters replace it.

What brand of Fork Gaiters I recommend

There are unbranded, bad quality hard plastic fork gaiters on the market,
that can crack / split / perish at the first sign of cold weather.

ariete Fork Gaiters
are very high quality, branded, made in Italy, very flexible, stretchable and crushable and are not hard plastic.

You may be able to obtain them from
http://www.wemoto.com/parts/fork_gaiter/page2_10/

Alternatively a company in the UK called Rob Hunter, stock these gaiters and supply them to their dealers in the UK.
They have thousands of dealers from the most southerly part of England, and as far north as Derby.
So chances are,
if you contact a motorcycle dealer within that area and ask if they are Rob Hunter dealers the answer will be yes.
Most motorcycle shops do not keep fork gaiters in stock, so they have to be ordered especially for you.

Since the ariete Fork gaiters are so stretchable, if your forks are slightly larger, the gaiters should stretch to fit.
If your forks are too small, putting a piece of tape (like electrical tape) around the forks will increase their size.
You can also use a standard plastic cable tie to keep the gaiters in place.

Tube, means the chrome bit that slides in and out of the Fork Leg
Fork Leg, means the part that the chrome tube slides in and out of.

Honda CG125 tube is 27 / 28mm, Fork Leg is 46mm

The ariete brand name is stamped on to the outside of the gaiter.
The part number is stamped on to the inside of the gaiter near the bottom.

ariete Fork Gaiters Part number 7907
They are supplied in pairs for around £12 and are made in black, red or blue (I recommend black)
Rob Hunters stock only the black version, they call it the Ariete Fork Gaiters 7907/BK (BK means black).

According to ariete the gaiters are designed to fit.
Tube 28 / 30 mm
Fork Leg 46 / 48 mm
Length Minimum 50 mm
Length Maximum 215 mm

I have measured the 7907 gaiters with a ruler.
The total length is 180 mm
The length of the bit that goes over the fork leg is 20 mm
The part that goes over the tube is 160 mm normally, 50 mm crushed and 195 mm stretched.
The maximum I can stretch the whole gaiter to is 215 mm long (including the 20 mm fork leg part that does not really stretch).

I have put a pair of these fork gaiters on my Honda CG125; I highly recommend you put them on your Honda CG125.

New Forks or Repairing old ones

There may be some aftermarket fork seals for your forks, that are designed to work better with rusty / pitted forks,
but they will not work if the forks are too rusty / pitted (see mechanic for advice).

Buying new forks is probably very expensive, even for just the chrome part.
Honda charge over £240 a pair for the chrome part on the Honda CG125 Front Disc brake model.
That is incredibly overpriced (unusual for Honda on that bike),
since the quality of the chrome is so low that they have rusted / pitted even after cleaning them every day after a ride in winter.
That may sound bad,
but don't be surprised if other makes and models of bikes are the same or worse if made in the last few years.
There used to be several aftermarket companies that made them for at least half that price,
but they may have stopped making them recently.

If your forks need to be replaced, there is another much better and cheaper option called re chroming.
Companies in the UK for example will take your old rusty / pitted forks
and grind off the old chrome and as much of the metal underneath as necessary.
Then put new, much higher quality chrome on than original.
They often say the original chrome was more like cosmetic chrome
and their chrome is industrial grade (much thicker and harder).
So their chrome should not suffer from corrosion
(still possible with severe neglect of smashing the chrome off with a sharp hard object at speed).
Some of them even claim they will straighten your forks at the same time (they claim all forks bend slightly over time and use).