With Jack Frost lurking around the corner, it’s time to prep for winter ATV riding so you can continue to enjoy your machine when the snow starts to fall.
It is inevitable that with the passing of days off the calendar, winter eventually has to get here and along with it comes colder weather. For those in the more Southern reaches, this may mean it finally comes time to turn the air conditioner off, but for those of us in the North, it means heavy jackets, brisk air and that four-letter word – snow. Does that mean it is time to put the ATV into storage until spring blooms? Not at all, but it does mean you should finish prepping your ride for some winter ATV riding so you can actually enjoy yourself and not worry about freezing or getting stuck in the snow.
Change Your Plugs
A licensed mechanic and owner of a small dealership once said a few years back that the best way to keep your ride performing in colder weather is to replace the spark plugs early. This is especially true if your ride is a few years old, as your plugs can be a little worn and in need of replacement. This is especially true for those of us lucky enough to still ride two-strokes, but then again, we’re already replacing plugs on a regular basis. A fresh, properly-gapped plug will give you a little extra oomph to start your machine in colder weather, and keep it running strong during winter ATV riding.
Deflect the Wind
You can go with a full fairing, much like those that come with some of the winter-edition ATVs from the factory, or like on a snowmobile. However, a set of handguards will do wonders to deflect the cold wind off your hands while winter ATV riding. Want a good example. Stick your hand out of your window while driving your truck down the road on a cold morning. Now slip it behind your rearview mirror. Notice it is much more tolerable? Same principle applies. Plus, hand guards will help deflect other things like branches, rocks, etc. And they’re pretty cheap, too.
Heated Grips and Thumb Warmers
There are a few machines coming from the factory with heated grips these days. If you buy a snowmobile, chances are it has them already, too. Heated grips feel just like normal grips, and don’t have to be on, but when you really need them they are amazing at keeping your hands warm. Combine them with hand guards and you can probably get away with normal riding gloves even during extremely cold days of winter ATV riding.
If you’re due for an oil change, don’t wait. Your engine oil can build up a minute amount of condensation, and when it’s very cold, that can freeze up. It can lead to extra wear on your oil, engine and more. If you haven’t switched to a full-synthetic oil, you should for winter. Smaller engines take more wear than your truck, and the added viscosity of synthetic oil aides in start-up and operation during colder weather.
Traction is always a premium in snow and ice, so tire chains can mean getting back versus not. They grab lots of traction on ice and in hard-pack snowy conditions you find when winter ATV riding. A set of chains is cheap and packs away on the machine, so you can “chain up” when wheels start spinning and that sinking feeling starts t set in that you might end up walking. Happy motoring in the snow, my friends!