As the fresh spring greenery gives way to the fiery autumn colors and the crisp winter snow to the soft summer rain, motorcyclists need to adapt to changing weather patterns. Inclement weather conditions, such as rain, snow, wind, and fog, can significantly increase the challenges of motorcycle riding. Today we offer insight into riding a motorcycle in bad weather, complete with tips and tricks to keep you safe on the road.
Motorcycling is inherently riskier than driving a car, in fact 5,932 motorcyclist lost their lives in the US in 2021. Taking extra caution is necessary especially when the weather is less than perfect. Conditions like wet, icy, or snowy roads increase the risk of losing traction and control. Reduced visibility in fog, rain, or snow can make it harder for you to see and be seen by other drivers. High winds can make it difficult to maintain balance and control.
The key to successfully riding a motorcycle in inclement weather is preparation. You need to ensure your physical readiness as well as mental preparedness.
Ensure you are appropriately dressed. Invest in quality weatherproof gear—gloves, boots, and a jacket that can protect you from the elements. Look for clothing with built-in reflectors or bright colors to increase your visibility.
Thermals and layers can help in colder weather, while vents and breathable fabrics can make summer rains more bearable. A full-face helmet with a fog-free shield is essential to keep your vision clear.
Before heading out, check the weather forecast. Know what you’re up against and decide whether the journey is necessary or can be postponed. Understand your skill level and comfort zone. It’s perfectly okay to avoid riding in conditions you’re not comfortable with. Remember, the more prepared you are, the safer your ride will be.
Now, let’s dive into some essential strategies for riding in various inclement weather conditions.
When it rains, water and oil residues mix together. This causes some of the most dangerous conditions. Wait for a while until the rain washes away the oil, or ride very carefully. Use your body and motorcycle weight to steer and avoid any sudden changes in speed or direction.
Wind can be unpredictable, with sudden gusts capable of knocking you off balance. Lean into the wind to counter its effects but be prepared for changes in wind direction. Keep a comfortable distance from other vehicles and be aware of large vehicles that can block wind and cause instability when you overtake them.
Fog greatly reduces visibility. Slow down, use low-beam lights, and consider using fog lights if you have them. Regularly check your mirrors and blind spots and keep an increased following distance.
Avoid riding in snow and ice if possible. However, if you must, go slow and avoid any sudden braking or acceleration. Use both brakes for gentle, controlled stops. Be especially cautious on bridges, overpasses, and shaded areas where ice forms first and melts last.
Finally, regular maintenance is critical to ensuring your motorcycle can handle bad weather. Check your tires often for wear and proper inflation. A good tread depth will provide a better grip on wet or snowy roads. Ensure your lights, brakes, and windshield are in good condition, and lubricate the chain frequently.
Remember, safety should always be your top priority. As the saying goes, “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were on the bike than on the bike wishing you were on the ground.” Happy and safe riding!