Bad Weather Riding in the Old Days

Allan Johnson writes an entertaining read about riding motorcycles back in the old days in winter weather up in Toronto, Canada, with an em...

Allan Johnson writes an entertaining read about riding motorcycles back in the old days in winter weather up in Toronto, Canada, with an emphasis on motorcycle cops. In the winter, the Toronto Police fashioned side cars to their bikes mainly as a way to help keep them from falling over. The icy road conditions probably made it difficult for a policeman to use their feet to keep a bike upright.

While others had to rely on other tricks to keep from losing traction:
I didn't have a sidecar on the Ariel - it was far too small to even think of that - and so I relied on lower tire pressure and careful use of the clutch and the higher gears to get traction in the winter. The gutters often had more grit and dirt than the centre of the roadway, and I can remember chugging up hills clogged with wheel-spinning cars by sticking near the curb and using the third of the four gears the Ariel possessed.
Living in Southern California, I never really had to deal with ice and snow. For us it was mostly water and oil slicks. In the old days, back before California had its helmet law, I rode my Kawasaki KZ400 like a kid riding his bike. It was left parked outside by the curb, and if I needed to go somewhere, I just hopped on and went. No helmet, no gloves, no leathers, no gear. Sun glasses were the only protective equipment me and biker friends wore, and that was only because shades looked cool. I guess those were the days when you could really enjoy the freedom of riding.

But riding the bike in bad weather was a pain. When it rained, those rain drops hurt like Hell. I didn't have a windshield on that KZ400. I only had sunglasses. So when it got dark out, I usually rode without them. Have you ever felt rain drops hitting your eyeballs at 55 mph? I was too proud to wear helmets those days.

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