Do you like to ride in the winter? I'm not talking about snow bikes; I'm talking about street riding. Whether it's for commuting or for fun, some riders are still out there doing the thing even when it gets cold.
If cold is the only issue, I've definitely been known to be one of them. I was born and raised in Chicago, and we don't tend to let cold weather get in the way of a good time. We just put on another layer of clothing, wrap a scarf over our faces, and go on about our business. Heated gear can also be your friend.
Depending on where you live, how you might feel about riding in the winter and what the law says about it may be two different things. To be totally clear, plenty of places don't put any restrictions on your ability to ride in the winter if you choose to do so. Illinois is one of them, and even goes so far as to offer a handful of winter riding tips in its 2023 Motorcycle Operator Manual.
Some Places May Require Winter Tires Or Other Considerations To Ride
A few years ago, the province of Québec, Canada was considering whether to allow motorcycles to operate during the winter months. Winter weather is undeniably no joke in the area, and safety even on four wheels can be a legitimate concern during especially bad weather.
In January 2024, Québec currently requires winter tires on all vehicles, with certain exceptions. Regular motorcycles are not exempt from this law, but motorcycles used as emergency vehicles may operate without winter tires. Select other vehicles such as trailers, RVs, and farm machinery qualify as exceptions.
In Québec, all vehicles that are not exempt from the winter tires rule must have winter tires on from December 1 through March 15 of each year. That includes most motorcycles.
Meanwhile, in the province of British Columbia, motorcycles in the winter are considered exempt from existing winter tire and chain requirements. However, the province cautions that motorcyclists should "use common sense when deciding whether to drive on B.C. highways between October 1 and April 30" each year.
It goes on to say that motorcycles should not be on the road during bad weather, if bad weather is forecast, if temperatures are near or below freezing, or if snow, slush, or icy conditions are present on roads. It also goes on to say that police may turn any and all vehicles around in conditions they deem unsafe. That includes motorcycles.
Some Places May Completely Ban Motorcycles, Mopeds, And Other Two-Wheeled Vehicles From Roads In Certain Winter Weather
According to a 2013 directive from Italy's Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport, two-wheeled mopeds and motorcycles are banned from riding if there is snow or ice on the road between November 15 and April 15 each year. They must also not ride while snow events are happening, such as snowstorms.
That's not the same as a complete ban on winter riding. However, it does mean that riders in Italy must pay extra attention to what the weather is like anywhere they plan to ride in the country during the winter months.
Laws vary from place to place, and locality to locality. To avoid unwelcome surprises, if you feel like winter riding is something you want to try, check what the local laws are like in your area first.