I rode the past 7 winters, the previous 6 were with only the bike for transportation. I got hit by a car in the summer after my 6th winter, then meant to take last winter off but rode in the snow a little. This winter I'll ride when I feel like it, I don't know how much that will be yet.
I've found most of what you said to be true, except for the knobbies. I get a lot of mixed surfaces, and I find full on thick snow cover is the least common surface for street riding in winter. This may depend on how often it's plowed where you are. I rode on street tires, not even dual sport tires every winter but the last one, where I had the stock trailwings on the DR. I was always opposed to knobbies because of the mixed surfaces and the fact that usually I was riding on a slippery road surface which is not like dirt at all. Now I'm very interested in what dual sport tires can do and will be trying TKC80s this winter though I think Anakees would be better. I've always just wanted a little more grip in snow, not a lot, because I want something that breaks loose evenly and predictably, no matter how early.
The first winter I rode a 1982 GS850 (that's a Suzuki, not a BMW) and it was probably the best bike for snow that I've ridden. The second year I rode a 1976 Honda CJ360T and it sucked bad. The tires were junk, but also I missed the weight. The weight really helped it find the ground through the snow and truck through the chunky stuff. The Honda was losing the front wheel everywhere, and I'd just barely muscle it back every time. It was hard hard work getting that thing through snow. The sticky feel-less drum brakes didn't help. I use front brake only on snow and had to abandon the front brake altogether halfway through that season because it was sticking from salt and would no longer release on it's own. Those first two years I rode feet down a lot.
The next four winters were on a 1982 GS1100 (also not a BMW) and it was ok but a little more work than the 850 just because of the extra low end power. The 4th winter I would ride a 2 block slow motion powerslide feet up on a badly slanted downtown street full of cars every day on the way to work. For a week or two of heavy snows and constant thick slush, I took that road every day and the back wheel wouldn't hook up and go straight for two blocks at a speed of about 15 mph (the speed of the cars). I never put a foot down in that section. That was my "Rossi season".
The 6th winter I crashed for the first time on the street in snow. Not a big deal, just a broken clutch lever and a lot of time wasted because of it. Before that, I'd only dumped it on snow in parking lots when I was doing donuts and messing around. I was getting tired of having to do it every day and was having a "Biaggi season", so I decided to own a car again for the next winter. Then I got hit the next summer and didn't have a choice.
I got the DR in February and rode it on hardpack snow, but that was about it.
This winter I'll try a bit more than that, but I'm not sure I have any Rossi seasons left in me. I'm going to take it easy and keep it fun for me.
I don't have any pictures as good as yours, though I have a lot of memories like that.
Here are some pics I do have:
First year on GS850
Later on the GS1100
Originally Posted by Dysco
This is a little thing I wrote up in response to a question about REAL winter riders in another forum. I've been meaning to write something up for my neglected website but I've been busy/lazy and never did it. So here it is:
I'm trying to start the revolution. I've been doing it for 2 years and I'm still going. I traded a bike for a truck which I will use to get my race bikes to the track and to get to work on non-snow days where frostbite is a real risk on my 30 mile commute. My BMW F650GS was my ONLY transportation for more than 2 years.
It ALL depends on the bike.