Hints & Tips for riding your Motorcycle in the winter

Biker riding in the winter.At Motorcycle Direct we want to ensure our customers are keeping safe this winter so we have put together a list of hints & tips to help you and your bike through these winter months.

How to prepare and deal with changing weather conditions

Heavy Rainfall - The most difficult factor in heavy rainfall is reduced visibility. Prepare for this by ensuring your visor is kept clean and polished so water slides off improving your view of the road. It is important to make sure you are wearing the correct gear to increase your grip/stability on your motorcycle.

Fog - This is all the more common in the winter months, with misty mornings and thick fog in the evenings it is important that you are more aware of the road than normal. Check your mirrors consistently for cars behind that may not spot you straight away and keep your distance from any vehicle in front of you as they may stop suddenly due to unseen hazards ahead. The most important thing to remember is to ride as fast as you can see in front of you.

Strong Winds - On more open roads you may find yourself in a situation where winds are coming at you in all directions. It may be safe to drop down a gear and accelerate smoothly to maintain control of your bike. Should you find yourself in a strong crosswind situation, it is important to embrace the wind and sit forward in your seat and raise your elbows accordingly.

Hazards to prepare for

Aquaplaning - In the winter months this is one of the most common hazards. Large amounts of rainfall in short periods of time can result in increased surface water on our roads. Ensure you are driving at an appropriate speed and try to avoid excessive puddles where possible on the roads. This will reduce your chances of skidding and potentially losing control of your bike.

Reduced visibility - This is another hazard bikers should prepare for. Drivers may struggle to see bikes in that period where day becomes night so ensure you are seen in these dark evenings with Hi-Viz clothing and fluorescent strips where possible.

How to maintain your bike through winter

Maintenance - This is one of the most important things to ensure your safety in winter. Keeping your bike well maintained will ensure your safety whilst riding. Keeping your tyre pressures checked is a key factor as your tyres are the first point of contact with the road you are driving on. Ensuring they have good tread depth to increase grip. Brake pads and discs should be checked for wear and replaced where necessary.

Being Visible - Check your lightbulbs. With darker evenings coming round sooner in the day, ensure your headlights/indicators are all working efficiently. Maybe even consider carrying around a couple of spare bulbs should you find yourself in the dark somewhere with a blown headlight, this will be your guiding light.

Clothing to ensure you are safe & warm

Protect against the elements - Ensuring that your outer layer is waterproof and windproof will make riding your bike in these harsher conditions a lot more bearable.

Layers galore - Ensure you are wearing plenty of layers to trap the air around your body and keep it warm. By wearing a thermal/fleece material as your bottom layer can help in keeping that warmth in. However be careful not to wear too many layers that may restrict your movement.

Helmet - Ensure you are wearing a full face helmet when possible to protect your face from the wintery weather and try to cover your neck with a balaclava style scarf to keep the cold out. Most of your heat is lost through your head so ensuring this is kept warm will ensure a satisfying ride.

Gloves & Boots - Good quality gloves and boots will protect the most vulnerable parts from the elements. Your feet and hands are the first places where blood is restricted too in colder weather so ensuring they are warm will reduce chances of blood flow reducing, meaning less pain for yourself.

The most important item to have on you in these winter months is a Hi-Vis waistcoat or jacket. Increasing your chances of being seen increases your safety on the roads so ensure you keep one with you should you find yourself out in the dark evenings. Suitable clothing items can be found on http://www.sportsbikeshop.co.uk/motorcycle_parts/content_cat/708

Riding techniques to ensure your safety

Loosen Up - To ensure a smooth ride you need to be relaxed and supple, not tense. If the bike were to slide/skid then it's important you can allow the bike to move around beneath you rather than make that movement worse by clamping yourself to the bike.

Braking - Braking, particularly in the rain is best done by squeezing the brake lever not grabbing it quickly as this is likely to result in skidding. Smoothness is very important.

Skidding - Try to avoid cat's eyes, white lines and manhole covers in wet weather. These can get very slippery and can be very hazardous in certain conditions.