Motorcycle Safety: Riding in Bad Weather
The thrill of the open air and open road on a motorcycle also means you’re more exposed to changing weather. While you may do everything possible to drive your motorcycle safely, you never know when Mother Nature is going to throw a torrential downpour your way. Or, maybe it’s a lot colder than you anticipated and you have to figure out how to adapt to stay safe and be comfortable.
Even if you checked the weather before jumping on your bike, longer, farther road trips may bring a variety of conditions. Here’s what you can do to be prepared for Mother Nature while on the road:
Rain, snow, sleet or hail – whatever the clouds bring might not be conducive to safe motorcycle riding. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), one of the most dangerous times for motorcycle riders is when the rain first starts. This is because the rain fills in the dips and cracks in the road and the oil from cars gets pushed to the top, making for a very slick surface. While you may not always be able to plan for storms, Rider Magazine suggests the following to help better manage your ride:
- If there is enough rain to limit visibility, pull over off of the road and wait until it slows down.
- Put an anti-fog product on your goggles or helmet and leave your face shield partially open so your visibility isn’t blocked by fog on the glass.
- Don’t tailgate other drivers and leave extra space between you and the cars around you so you have time to stop with less traction.
- Tap breaks every so often to clean rotors of water and dirt.
As a general rule, Rider Magazine suggests always driving more slowly in wet conditions. When the road is covered in water, stopping distance and the risk for hydroplaning are increased. By keeping to a slower speed, Rider Magazine notes you can help reduce your lean angle on turns and maintain greater control of your bike. In addition, Consumer Reports recommends being extra cautious with the brakes, steering and throttle and avoiding sudden movements.
Cold and Wind
Riding in extremely cold or windy weather can be a distraction and cause for concern when it comes to safety, according to Rider Magazine. Very cold weather can diminish the senses and create slower reaction times, so it’s best to be prepared with warm, well-fitting gear.
In addition, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation offers other tips for staying warm while riding in cold weather, including:
- Dress in multiple layers, including thermal underwear.
- Wear an insulated, windproof outer layer with a high, tight collar.
- Ride with insulated, full-fingered gauntlet gloves on your hands to keep cold air out of your coat sleeves.
- Get apparel designed specifically for motorcycle riding, as it is cut longer to keep you covered while in the riding position.
The MSF also offers some advice for how to combat wind gusts. First, if the wind picks up, the Foundation suggests leaning into the wind to maintain your position. Second, keep your bike near the lane line closest to the side where the wind is blowing from so if you are moved by a big gust, you aren’t pushed into another lane or off the road.
No matter what the conditions, remember safety first. Do what you can to prepare for bad weather and keep in mind these motorcycle safety tips the next time you hit the open road.