If you're like me you probably absolutely dread the end of riding season. Depending on where you live that can mean a few different scenarios, but for most of the country it's at least going to stop you from riding or make it far less comfortable. But I refuse to give up easily. I'll do everything I can to stay on my bike throughout the year so here are some tips to keep you on two wheels going into fall and winter.

The Bike

Change Fluids

It's a good time to make sure fluids are changed and fresh. And while you're changing the fluids in your machine consider running a lighter weight oil, especially in an air-cooled bike. Lighter weight oil in cold temps will "warm up" quicker and flow easier than a heavier weight.

Tires

Give your tires a good once over. If they are showing significant wear, consider a change. With fall and winter comes more chances of riding in wet conditions and you want to have the best possible traction. If you are going real hardcore and are going to be riding in snow consider a 50/50 adventure-touring tire.

Wind Protection

You may not like the look of a windshield or fairing on your bike but they do an excellent job of keeping the wind and rain off your body. Adding a windshield or fairing to your bike will significantly improve your riding comfort in cold weather. Throw the summertime aesthetics out the window, the emphasis here is not freezing to death and staying dry. Most windshields and fairings have a quick release option nowadays anyway so removal is fast and easy when you get back to warmer riding temps. If you're on a bagger with a short windshield consider swapping it out for a taller version for the colder months. I'm gonna also throw hand protection in here. A handguard is basically a windshield for your digits and generally that's what freezes on me first is my fingers since they are front and center for cold wind blast. Handguards are a great way to give your hands their own set of protection and can be easily removed in warmer weather as well

Heated Grips

Like I said, in cold weather it's always my fingers that cause the most issues and discomfort. Your whole body can be warm, but if your fingers freeze and become immobilized (not to mention the ridiculous pain) then that's pretty much the end of your ride. If you have never experienced the wonders of a heated grip you have no idea what you're missing. The small amount of warmth that can be generated from those small little heavenly warmers is amazing. On a cold day, when you switch them on, it's like they radiate heat through your whole body. Pair them up with a handguard and your fingers will be toasty.

Your Gear

Gear is probably the most important component to keep you riding through the colder months but it's not necessarily a simple solution. There are a fair amount of variables depending on how far into the cold months you plan on riding and what the weather is like where you live. So I'll break this down into a few solutions so you get the best bang for your buck.

Heated Liners - The Wild Card

Heated liners are rad because you can basically add them to almost any of your existing gear and turn it into a cold weather riding setup that will be suitable for most conditions. First Gear makes a full lineup of gear to keep you warm and toasty. A jacket liner, pants liner and sock liners (heated socks are as awesome as they sound) are the staples in my opinion. You can buy them separately or you can link them together and power them off your bike or by their lithium ion battery. Each piece offers its own temperature control through the slick integrated button that you can set at three different levels of heat and the lighted button adds to the cool factor. This year they have added a battery powered heated vest to the collection that is my favorite piece. All though it can't be linked to the other pieces it's an easy option to keep your core warm on and off the bike. To round it out they have heated glove liners and heated gloves. Personally the liners are a bit thick for me to add to my normal riding gloves and with the upgrades to their heated gloves this year I would just go with heated glove setup. Heated gloves are a godsend in cold weather, even better than a heated grip in my opinion.

The Constants

There are a few things that you need to stay warm no matter what level of cold you're going to be riding through. A full face helmet is on the top of that list. Even with a windshield or fairing in cold weather your face is going to freeze up pretty quick and make your life miserable. A properly fit full face with a chin curtain keeps the elements at bay. Personally I like the ICON Airflite, it fits me snug and the albeit oddly-shaped shield seals tight and offers supreme protection. The fit is good and quiet (meaning wind isn't blowing underneath it) and it has a fog-free shield that works well, which is pretty much a must have in cold weather. Some sort of neck protection is also key. The neck is one of those pesky spots where wind always finds its way in. A neck gaiter is a cheap solution to keep a particularly tender spot nice and warm. If you are absolutely against a full face helmet, do yourself a favor and at least get a neoprene mask or balaclava to keep your face from getting frostbitten.

Fall Temps, Cool Weather Riding

If you're just trying to get in a a few more fall rides and not go into full-on abominable snowman mode your options are many. Look for a middleweight type of jacket, something that will work perfectly in spring and possibly into summer if there is a removable liner option. Something like ICON's Brigand jacket has a flannel inner lining and removable waterproof liner to keep you dry and D30 armor in the elbow, shoulder and back. Alpinestars Crazy Eight jacket is more of a traditional leather jacket with a flannel lining and light shoulder and elbow protectors. A good waterproof glove like Klim's Inversion Pro or Joe Rockets Briton gloves are a nice choice to keep your hands dry and warm on a typical fall day. Adding a waterproof boot like a TCX Hero vintage boot or Alpinestars Oscar Firm Drystar boot would be an added bonus. You could always make these combinations last a bit longer into winter by adding the aforementioned heated vest or pants and sock liners.

Legit Cold Weather

If you are real hardcore and want to ride through snow and the like deep into the winter you are my hero...and you're going to need legit gear. Starting with a brand like Klim is a great start, these dudes were basically born in the snow. A jacket and pant combo like the Badlands Pro jacket and pants are kind of the ultimate gear combo for even the harshest conditions offering protection both from the elements and a get-off. They could be paired with heated liners as well. If that's a little too north of the budget Alpinestars Andies Pro Drystar Jacket or the Rev'it Safari 3 are excellent options at different price points.  Both could be paired with pants like Alpinestars Revenant Gore Tex Pro or Rev'it Outback 3 and a heated liner to keep you going down those chilly roads. For a non-heated glove option the Highway 21 Granite Black Leather Gloves have a Hipora waterproof liner and are a great choice. If you're not into glove liners the First Gear Outrider Glove is going to be the heated option you're looking for that's also waterproof and provides crash protection. Boots like TCX Baja Gore-Tex boots or Klim's Outlander GTX will keep your feet dry but I would recommend a heated liner to keep those piggies warm.

Riding deep into the colder seasons provides a completely different experience than the obvious spring and summer situations. Fall riding is a no-brainer for me, the beautifully changing landscapes are inspiration enough to ride though the cool air. The bike always seems to find a little extra power breathing through the colder temps, too. The combination of rad scenery and the newly found snap at the request of my throttle hand makes fall riding a must do. I'll admit it takes a special person to ride into the winter months, especially if there's snow, but as the old saying goes - where there's a will, there's a way. And I'll generally find a way to ride as long as possible. Sneaking out for a ride across a snow-covered landscape makes you feel special, like you're getting one over on Mother Nature...and makes you feel superior to your fellow housebound motorcyclists. All this is of course contingent on having the right gear because venturing down the cold roads of  fall and winter ill-prepared will make you miserable. But you don't have to be, gear up proper and keep her pinned.