If you’re a motorcyclist, the chances are you have the internal battle of whether to ride throughout the winter or not. For some bikers, there is absolutely no chance that they will get the bike out of the garage throughout the cold months. It stays safely under the tarp, with the boots and jacket safely tucked away in the wardrobe. For others, there is no choice but to keep going – perhaps it is their only form of transport, or maybe they’re more confident in riding in harsh winter conditions.
If you are an all weather, all year round rider, you need to adjust your riding style to keep safe. Here, we share a few tips to keep you firmly on the road throughout the cold season.
1) Make sure you have quality safety gear.
You should have this all year round, but it’s even more imperative in the winter. At an absolute minimum, you should have a good helmet, armored jacket, and trousers with pads, gloves and sturdy biking boots. They should all fit well, particularly the helmet and jacket, as you’ll get little protection if they come flying off in the event of an accident. They should also meet safety regulations. The 5-6 standards that matter includes being CE certified. You should also wear a high vis vest over your jacket to make you more visible to other road users. Neck warmers, thermals, and balaclavas are all useful extras to have to keep you warm and more comfortable on your bike.
2) Increase your braking distance
In wintery conditions, the average braking distance can increase by as much as ten times. This naturally raises the risk of an accident if you’re not careful. You need to make sure that you allow more room between you and the vehicle in front, even if that means slowing down. If someone is driving too closely behind you, pull in when it is safe to do so and allow them to carry on with their journey.
3) Use your common sense
Even if motorbikes are your only form of transport, you need to use your common sense. If it is thick snow or threatened heavy snow, it might be worth leaving the bike at home and catching the bus. Be aware of patches of black ice, which may not be visible until you hit them. They will reduce the grip your bike has on the road, which again, leads to a higher chance of you coming off.
4) Take your time and pay attention
When you’re cold and tired, it can be tempting to crank up the throttle and try and get home as quickly as possible. Winter is no time to start rushing and taking safety shortcuts though as if you end up in hospital after a crash, it’s going to take you even longer to get home. Instead, slow down, stay alert and watch out for other road users who may not be paying attention.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be enjoying the spring sunshine and warmth before you know it!