Motorcycling has seen a tumultuous recent few months, with the news that the market has experienced a boom – but that so too has motorcycle-related mortality rates. The figures highlight that safety on your motorcycle is more important than ever, and with the colder months rolling in more hazards abound. So how best can you stay safe on your motorbike this Winter?
Dressing for the Weather
Making sure you have appropriate clothing for nippy conditions is more important than it might initially seem. The addition of cold air whipping past you as you ride creates a sensation of temperature far lower than the air temperature your bike might indicate – and as your body struggles to regulate its own heat, it restricts blood flow to extremities – giving you less control over your bike. Better safe than sorry – invest in a decent winter riding kit, including gloves, which seals up to prevent any air from entering.
As well as investing in comfortable winter clothes for riding, you can go one step further and introduce heated elements to your outfit and bike in turn. Make use of battery-powered heated insoles to keep your feet warm and mobile, and avoid the reduced mobility that cold can bring. You can also install heated grips for your handlebars, to prevent your hands from seizing and to retain complete control over your steering, throttle, clutch, and brakes.
Riding your bike in the colder months should not be treated as equivalent to any other time of year. There are increased road risks, in a higher likelihood of wet weather and the possibility of ice on the road – as well as reduced visibility in fog, and less daylight hours in which to ride. Before you even think about getting on your bike, you should ensure that your motorbike insurance is up to date and that you are covered, in the event of the worst happening.
Posture and technique will save you in colder, wetter weather. With the possibility of black ice on the roads, caution is the move – keeping yourself tight to your bike and leaning into corners with your shoulder instead of your knee gives you more traction, while careful braking (braking slowly after easing off on the throttle, exerting more pressure as you change down gears) will keep you on your bike in lower grip conditions, whether cornering or stopping for traffic.
Looking After Your Bike
Bike maintenance is especially key in the winter months, as the elements – and efforts to control them – can have detrimental effects on your bike. Frequently riding on gritted roads can kick grit up into your suspension and fairing, causing abrasion and even corrosion over time. Keeping an eye on your fairings, cleaning or hosing your bike down regularly and applying protective lubricants to moving parts can keep your bike pristine through the worst of the weather. If it’s your first time out after some time of cold weather, make sure to leave your bike idling for 5 to 10 minutes before you set off; this allows the engine to warm up and the oil to loosen, making for a smoother ride.