are motorcycle snow tyres required to ride in winter

Are motorcycle snow tyres required to ride in winter?

Riding your motorcycle on a daily basis has become a habit for you that does not raise any problems. Until the temperatures drop and winter sets in. When it does, you are confronted with harsher and sometimes unexpected weather conditions that obviously increase the risks. So you're left with these questions: Can you ride safely in snowy conditions? Are motorcycle snow tyres required for this? Let us tell you everything we think about the subject in this article.  

Riding a motorcycle in snow 

After a snowfall, the road has become slippery. And when the snow melts, it becomes water, which can then turn into ice when the temperature drops again overnight.  

Since this is a typical scenario you may face, it's natural to ask yourself whether it's safe riding your motorcycle in the snow or on ice, and whether your tyres will provide sufficient grip during your journey. 

Can your motorcycle tyres provide sufficient grip in the snow or on ice?

It's not just a question of grip

Of course, grip is essential. And grip conditions are much more precarious when the ground is wet and cold than when the weather is warm and dry. For cars, fitting appropriate tyres with good grip on snowy or icy roads can ensure a safe and smooth ride.  

But on a motorcycle, it's not just a question of grip. The other parameter that comes into play is balance. When you only have two wheels to rely on, you can lose this essential balance at any time on a snowy or icy road. Even more so if the grip, compromised by the cold, has diminished. 

Tyre temperature 

It is important to understand that every tyre has an ideal operating temperature. Ideal in the sense that at this temperature the tyre will perform at its best. To reach this temperature, the tyre must travel a certain number of kilometres, which varies according to the type of tyre. But in a winter context where the rubber stiffens with the cold and therefore becomes less effective in terms of grip, it is difficult, if not impossible, to reach and maintain this ideal temperature. 

In competition, tyre warmers are used to warm up the tyres before the start of the race so that they are already at their ideal temperature at the start. Then, the temperature of the tyres does not drop because of the speed at which they are driven during the race. 

But even if this equipment were available for use off the track, your tyres, once heated, would quickly lose their temperature in the cold as they would not be put under the same driving and speed constraints as they usually are. 

The ideal tyre temperature can hardly be maintained on a snowy or icy road

So, what about motorcycle snow tyres? 

At Michelin, we design and manufacture winter tyres for four-wheeled vehicles to cope with difficult winter driving conditions and low temperatures. And we do it because all our tests have validated their performance even in the most difficult winter conditions. 

So, it would be logical to think that we would do the same for motorcycles. That we would design and manufacture motorcycle snow tyres as we have done for four-wheelers. But we didn't. Why not?  

Because we're dedicated to making quality tyres that deliver optimum performance for your safety above all. And as we've seen above, riding a motorcycle on a snowy or icy road raises significant safety issues, we recommend that you avoid riding a motorbike in snowy conditions

Motorcycle snow tyres are not sufficient to guarantee your safety in snow or on ice

What to do if you still have to ride your motorcycle in snow? 

As you have understood, we recommend that you avoid riding a motorbike in snowy conditions. When the temperatures drop, when the snow falls, when it is freezing at night, think of your safety first and choose another means of transport than your motorcycle. 

However, should you be forced to ride your motorcycle in these conditions anyway, here are some tips that may help you reduce the risks: 

1 - Precautions before setting off 

  • Pressure: Make sure your tyres are inflated to the manufacturer's recommended pressure
  • Remember to clean your lights and indicators so that you can be seen by other drivers.  
  • If possible, wear clothing that is clearly visible from a distance.

2 - On the road 

  • Start slowly, preferably in second gear to avoid rear wheel spin. 
  • Ride very smoothly. 
  • Keep a good distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. 
  • Braking: prioritise engine braking. When using the brakes, brake gently, mixing the front and rear brakes to avoid locking the front wheel. 
  • Turning: stay close to the centre line to avoid the risk of ice that usually forms at the edges of the road. Avoid leaning too much so that the tyres work on the tread as much as possible. 
  • Snow depth: if there is a deep layer of snow on the road, try to drive in the tyre tracks left by cars to avoid getting stuck. 
  • Avoid manhole covers that may be in your way and could be slippery. 
  • And above all, take your time. The most important thing is to arrive safely! 
You are using an unsupported web browser
You are using a website browser that is not supported by this website. This means that some functionality may not work as intended. This may result in strange behaviours when browsing round. Use or upgrade/install one of the following browsers to take full advantage of this website