Motorcycles are the preferred mode of transportation for gear-heads, but in the wrong weather conditions, it can be downright hazardous. We’re not talking about just the harsh winters, but incredibly hot summers can be equally as perilous. In this article we’re going to share some tips for comfortable riding, no matter what season it is.
Of course, the best approach to rain, extreme heat, and excessive cold is to just not ride at all. Check the weather forecast before you go out on the road. If extreme temperatures are predicted, consider using a different form of transportation. But when you seriously have no choice, use expert tips to ensure that you’re as safe as can be.
When you find yourself unexpectedly riding in less-than-ideal conditions:
- Take a short break every couple of hours. Fatigue contributes to motorcycle accidents.
- When visibility is poor, slow down. Ride at a speed that feels safe and comfortable. Arriving a little late at your destination is better than ending up in the emergency room.
- If you’re stuck in the middle of a long trip, go ahead and rent a hotel room for the night. When conditions outside are rough, riding at night is the most dangerous.
No matter what season it is, riding in the rain can be seriously dangerous and uncomfortable. You’re completely exposed to the elements in a way that drivers are not. That being said, riding a motorcycle in the rain gives you an enhanced view of the ride, good maneuverability, and more escape routes. Here are some tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:
- It’s all about smooth control. Go gentle on the brakes and throttle, and be sure to balance your grip. You want to be sure to complete your turns before you accelerate.
- Be wary of last-minute reactions. Always plan ahead in wet weather and determine when you’re going to need to accelerate or brake. Reduce skidding by using engine braking for corners and junctions.
- Look out for these obstacles in wet weather: Manhole covers, slick surfaces, railroad tracks, oil spills, puddles, and potholes.
- Avoid “long-lasting” tires when riding in wet weather. You think you’re saving money, but these tires are less tacky and won’t provide enough traction.
You think wet weather is bad? Hot weather can be just as dangerous. You’re more likely to be in an accident when you’re tired, exhausted, or downright angry. Excessive heat can exacerbate all these feelings.
- First and foremost, when riding on a hot day you want to be sure and stay hydrated. Take plenty of water breaks, and if you don’t like water, try a sports drink such as Gatorade. Avoid soda and too much coffee as these can be dehydrating.
- The way you dress on a hot day is going to make a huge difference. That doesn’t mean riding with shorts and no shirt. You want to cover as much of your body as possible, as skin exposed to the sun will increase the chance of sunburn and water will evaporate faster from the skin.
- Be sure to open the vents on your motorcycle helmet, as this will increase airflow. Also, be sure to pack some lip balm. Always wear sunscreen, and try to eat salty foods to help your body hold onto fluids for a longer period of time.
- Brush up on the symptoms of heat-related illness so that you can spot the signs. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion happen to anyone, but those who are obese, on certain prescription medication, or drink a lot of alcohol are more at risk.
Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you can’t go for a ride, but you gotta dress like a pro. Here are some apparel tips:
- Invest in a good pair of gloves so that you can keep your hands warm. Also, a great pair of boots will be a blessing for your feet.
- When your torso is warm, it’s easier to keep your extremities warm. A cold torso restricts blood to your hands and feet.
- Wind is not your friend. Make sure that the exterior of your apparel is wind-blocking.
- Seal everything. You don’t want air coming through the neck opening of your jacket. Consider a windproof neck gaiter.
- Good insulating materials will go a long way. Wool is the best natural insulator. You can also use synthetics, like Thinsulate.
If you don’t have a windshield on your bike, then consider installing one. The windshield will keep you warmer than anything else, and it also protects you from debris on the road. When all else fails, invest in electrics. Sure, you feel like you’re riding around in a heater blanket, but you’ll be more comfortable than the other guy wearing leather.
What About Spring?
So, we’ve discussed the hard stuff, but what’s the best way to brave perfect weather? Just for the sake of fun, let’s explore.
Seriously, there are some precautions that you need to take when your bike has been sitting in the garage all winter. Prepare for the riding season, and make sure that everything is in tip-top shape.
- Make Plans: Spring is the time to plan your summer trips! Plan at least one long trip and a couple of shorter ones if you can. This is the time to get your blood pumping, and when you plan ahead, you can put it on your calendar so that there are no excuses. You can also tell the wife. She’ll appreciate the advanced notice.
- When you’re not riding, you want to keep your bike on a trickle charger. This is going to help to add years to the life of your battery. Even hooking it up on the weekends is a good choice. But doing this during the winter means that your bike is going to be a lot happier come spring.
- Check the Tires: You want to check your tires often, but especially when spring comes. If you need new rubber, do it before spring hits. This means that you won’t have a prolonged winter waiting season.
- Dress for Success: Spring is the time for vented riding coats and new, shiny helmets. It’s not just about functionality, it’s also about style. Invest in gloves to fight throttle fatigue, kevlar gear, and even a new pair of chaps. When you get your outfit in gear before spring hits, you’ll be ready to hit the roads looking and feeling your best.
Every season, there’s something new to consider when you are a motorcycle rider. Comfort is important, but safety is key. When the conditions are just too bleak outside, whether too hot or too cold, it’s always best to refrain. But when it’s not insurmountable, use these expert tips to keep you as safe as possible.