Ride Your Motorcycle Safely in Bad Weather
Being a safe, smart motorcycle rider means being prepared to ride in less than ideal conditions. Even if you checked the weather before jumping on your bike, Mother Nature may send you some unexpected surprises. To help stay safe on the road, follow these tips for riding your motorcycle in bad weather.
Riding in Wet Weather
Wet roads are simply not as good for traction as dry roads. If it begins to rain during your ride, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recommends pulling over somewhere safe and waiting for a bit. The roads can be extra slippery when it starts to rain and oil residue floats to the surface. Keep in mind that traction may still not be great when you start to ride again, especially if it’s still raining. TwistedThrottle.com recommends that you:
- Reduce your speed and put more space between you and other vehicles, because you’ll likely need a longer distance to stop on a wet road with less traction.
- Avoid puddles, which can make it hard to tell how deep the water truly is. Avoid shiny and smooth surfaces, too, as they tend to be slippery when wet.
- If possible, ride in a tire track of a vehicle ahead of you. The treads on car tires push water off to the side, which can briefly leave you dryer pavement to ride on.
- Stay relaxed and avoid hard braking, quickly accelerating or making abrupt turns on wet roads.
Consider having a one- or two-piece rain suit, boot covers and gloves on hand to help keep you dry and comfortable, says the MSF.
Riding in Windy Conditions
Strong winds can create some of the most difficult riding conditions, says Motorbike Writer. If you can avoid riding on a windy day, it’s probably for the best. If you find the winds kicking up while you’re already out on a ride:
- Figure out which direction the wind is blowing by looking at grass, trees or flags. This will help you know how to position yourself, says Motorbike Writer.
- Give yourself space in case the wind pushes you out of your position in the lane. This may help prevent you from going into the other lane or onto the side of the road, says Motorbike Writer. The MSF recommends riding on the side of the lane where the wind is coming from.
- Lean into the wind to avoid tipping, says the MSF. Be aware of areas that are sheltered form the wind, such as buildings, lines of trees or even the space between other vehicles. If you are leaning while you ride into these protected areas, you may tip too far.
Dealing with the wind can be both physically and mentally tiring for a motorcyclist, so remember to take breaks, says Motorbike Writer. If you’re not comfortable riding in strong winds, it’s best to find somewhere safe to wait it out.
Riding in Cold Weather
Even if it isn’t the dead of winter, hypothermia from wind chill is a possibility. MotorcyclistOnline.com says your body can lose warmth quickly due to the speed of travel. To help stay warm when riding in colder temperatures:
- The MSF says layers of clothing can help insulate your body and keep you warm. Consider starting with a base layer of thermal underwear. Your outer layer should be windproof to help block the cold from your body, says the MSF.
- Wear an insulated helmet with a full face mask, says MotorcyclistOnline.com. You may also want to wear a balaclava for added warmth, according to Motorbike Writer.
- Consider wearing a lightweight but insulated winter riding suit over your street clothes, says the MSF.
- Wear winter riding gloves (and maybe liners, too) and thermal or wool socks, says Motorbike Writer.
- Consider a waterproof outer layer as well as double-bagging your extra gear to help keep it dry, says MotorcyclistOnline.com.
- Stay hydrated to help keep your body warm. Additionally, eat some snacks along the way to help keep your metabolism going and your body temperature up, says MotorcyclistOnline.com.
Wind, rain and cold temperatures can expose you to hazards when you’re on your bike. By learning how to handle different weather conditions, you may be better prepared for different scenarios while riding your motorcycle.
Originally posted on December 23, 2014.