Winter kicks - MCN’s guide to sub-zero fun (Part 1)

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Stop hibernating on the sofa waiting for the new biking season MCN shows you how to have a kick-ass winter

hristmas is closing in, which means woolly jumpers, comfy sofas and the Coronation Street omnibus with your feet up. Most of us will be tucking our bikes away for hibernation and hanging up the boots, blissfully unaware that we could be having the time of our lives this winter. But that’s not our fault; it’s the sparkly tinsel and baubles infecting our minds. Block it out! Sod the turkey, whip out a thick pair of socks, jump on your bike (or buy a cheapie) and get out there. You could be sliding around knee deep in muck with your mates, trundling up and down green lanes in the snow, learning to pop wheelies on a trials bike or taking up one of our mental winter challenges in no time. We show you how with our kick-ass winter biking guide. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face… or give you hypothermia. Either way, Merry Christmas!

Learn to ride like a pro… sort of

Buy a bike and get muddy

This might look like a boggy pit of slush and muck but it’s not, this is our playground. This is where magic happens, where mere mortals transform into off-road winter gods. And it’s easy.

Tip the bike over to the left and shift your arse to the right, raise your elbow, stick your leg out and get on the gas. The sweet smoky perfume seduces the senses and the classic two-stroke ding-ding-ding aural soundtrack spurs you on, faster and harder.

The rear slides sideways at the merest whiff of throttle and the left bar grip floats - at what feels like - inches from the mucky surface. Another blip of the throttle and the rear wheel starts to overtake the front.

Stamp on the brake and you’ll slide round the corner like Tai Woffinden. Line up for the straight, nuts over the tank to reduce rear wheel load, grab a fistful of throttle and revel in the exquisite cocktail of testosterone and mud spraying from the back tyre like a fire hose on full blast.

Sure, in reality we couldn’t be further from Tai, but rest assured – being crap, or not having a clue what you’re doing, makes it more fun. For those fleeting moments when you catch a corner just right, you will feel epic. 

This is a magical winter wonderland where even an off-road numpty like me can feel like Cyril Despres – only managing 25mph is beside the point. Of course, it’s an illusion – encouraged by piss-taking, more skilful mates – who watch, cheering you to go faster, while secretly hoping you’ll end up eating mud… again. But who cares? They’re clearly jealous of all the splashes you’re making through inch deep puddles. This is the pinnacle of motorcycling fun and you don’t need a 10 grand
adventure bike to do it.

We bought the Yamaha DT125 for less than a pair of crash bars and it’s probably lighter than all the accessories most big bikes have anyway. Pick the welter weight up, wipe the mud from your goggles, grit the sand in your teeth and keep going until you become a pro. It’s the ultimate Christmas present.

It’s easy to get some cheap thrills

We paid £600 for the Yamaha DT125 from It’s road legal and came with an MoT and full service history. When looking for a second-hander you’ll want to give the bike a thorough check to make sure it hasn’t been thrashed within an inch of its life. Road-going bikes make life easier as you don’t need to fork out for a trailer. So check MoT paperwork for advisories and collect all service receipts. Inspect the chain and sprocket, make sure the teeth aren’t too pointed and the chain isn’t rattling and moving from side to side. You can get a good idea of how a bike has been treated by the condition of the chain. Look at the fork seals, push the handlebars down a couple of times and compress the forks, then wipe the fork stanchions and check no fork oil is present. If there is, then fork seals need to be replaced. Check the rear shock by pushing the back end down from the rear, the shock should provide damping in compression and return/rebound. Any bouncy or springy action could indicate the shock needs a service. Finally, check the spokes and tyres.

Yamaha DT125 £600
Engine 123cc, single-cylinder, two-stroke
Power 16bhp
Torque 12ftlb
Weight 97kg


Words: Andy Davidson Photos: Jason Critchell

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