Safe Riding

Safety Tips For Biking In Difficult Weather Conditions By: Brandi@Paperstreet.com

Written by  Brandi @Paperstreet.com October 1, 2021

A nice long motorcycle ride can be a fun way to get outside and enjoy a nice sunny day. But what if the weather isn’t so nice? Riding in extreme weather conditions such as strong rain and snow can be dangerous, and potentially result in a deadly accident. But while it’s advisable to avoid riding in these conditions, sometimes riders have no choice. 

 

If you have no other vehicle and need to get somewhere, your only option may be to hop on your bike. Or, you may be one who enjoys riding in the fog or light rain. In order to make the journey safer, here are some tips for riding in extreme weather conditions, so that you can avoid the need to call an accident lawyer and get to your destination safely.

Riding in the Rain 

While some riders leave their bike in the garage when the rain starts coming down, others enjoy a rainy ride. The trick is to know how to ride in the rain safely, and that starts with having the right gear. Waterproof rain suits, gloves, and boots can help keep you dry, and extra layers can be added for warmth if needed. However, you also want to make sure you are easy to see, so if your rain gear is black, be sure to incorporate an orange or yellow vest to add contrast so that you are more visible to drivers on the road. In addition, if your helmet’s visor does not include an anti-fog feature, you may want to substitute goggles instead. 

While riding, take your time and stay focused. Throttle and brake adjustments should be done gradually and smoothly. Ride in a dry lane whenever possible, and avoid shiny surfaces and puddles, especially at intersections. Puddles may be deeper than you expect, and shiny surfaces can be slippery with oil or hiding other hazards underneath such as manhole covers and sealer pavement. Rainbows on the surface are a sure sign of oil on the road.

Riding in the Fog

Riding your motorcycle in the fog can also be an enjoyable experience if done safely. Keep your headlights set to low beam to avoid glare. With the decreased visibility, leave more space between the vehicle in front of you, so that you have plenty of time to avoid sudden stops or changes in traffic flow. Follow the lines on the road with your eyes to ensure you are staying in the lane. For your comfort and safety, wear waterproof gear that is highly visible. Finally, if the visibility is reduced to near zero, the safest course of action is to turn on your hazards and find a safe place off the road to pull over until it improves. 

Riding in Snow and Ice

If you live in an area of extreme snow, your only option may be to winterize and store your bike until the weather improves. And while riding in the middle of a snowstorm is never recommended, it is possible to ride in icy and snowy conditions safely if caution is used. 

As with riding in the rain, it is important to have highly visible gear that will keep you warm and dry. Hypothermia and frostbite are concerns when riding in the winter. Also similar to biking in rain, you will want to ride slowly and cautiously, knowing that there can be unexpected slick patches or other hazards hidden by the snow. Give yourself plenty of time to speed up and slow down, don’t make sudden changes in direction, keep your headlights on low beam, and ride in a higher gear to give you more control. 

The condition of the snow will also impact how you should ride in it. Fresh virgin snow is the safest to ride in, as long as you can see the sides of the road and potential hazards. The fresh snow will get compacted under your tires to provide a better grip. Riding on hard and slippery snow that is already compacted is much riskier. If possible, ride on any fresher snow you can find in the lane, and avoid the compacted tire tracks. Slushy roads can be safer than compacted snow, as your tires can cut through the snow to grip the road underneath. However, it can also hide dangerous black ice.

Riding in Strong Winds

Riding when strong winds are pushing your motorcycle around the road can be frightening, and fatigue tends to develop more quickly as you are fighting to keep your bike in the lane. You will need to allow more space between yourself and other vehicles to give yourself more wobble room and avoid collisions. If possible, re-route your trip to keep to more sheltered roads. Keep in mind that while buildings and large trucks may block the wind temporarily, they can create wind tunnels that can push you around once you come out. In addition, be sure to secure all loose items and try to avoid unnecessary saddlebags that the wind may catch on. Eye protection is crucial as well, as the high winds can blow debris into your eyes. 

When riding, the wind can come at you from any direction. Remember that your body will act as a sort of sail in the wind, so hunching up small behind your windscreen and tucking in your limbs will reduce how much it pushes your bike around. Driving into a headwind, where the wind is coming at you from the front, is relatively safe, but it can slow you down. A tailwind, where the wind is coming at you from behind, is also fairly safe and can actually improve your gas mileage, but it will speed you up and it will take more time to come to a stop. Crosswinds, where the wind is pushing from either side, are the most dangerous to ride in. To counteract the pushing, turn your knee in the direction the wind is coming from, or lean your weight and bike slightly into that direction. 

Extreme Heat 

When driving in extreme heat, it’s important you keep yourself and your bike as cool as possible. Make sure to wear gear that protects your skin from the sun but provides proper ventilation, bring more water than you think you will need, and pull over to rest if you notice signs of heat exhaustion, such as cramps, nausea, dizziness, and headaches. Don’t be in a hurry to get back on your bike again, as heat exhaustion can develop into heatstroke, a serious medical condition that can cause you to pass out. Make sure that the fluids for your bike are topped up as well, and that its cooling system is fully functioning before your ride. It is also important to make sure your tires are fully inflated, as underinflated tires are at a higher risk for blowouts when the temperatures are in the triple digits.

Beware of heat haze or //medium.com/@AddsTake/the-physics-of-road-heat-mirages-5e15d46e15d5">heat mirages, which can look like waves in the air or pools of water on the road. While they are otherwise harmless, they can resemble hazards that aren’t actually there. Pay close attention to be able to determine actual puddles from heat mirages. Turning on your headlights can help minimize their appearance as well. 

Ride Safe Out There

Biking doesn’t have to be an activity that is restricted solely to sunny days. With the right knowledge, skills, gear--as well as plenty of caution--many riders can enjoy a ride year-round and minimize their chances of a collision caused by weather conditions.