Coming out of the cold of winter, spring weather is often welcomed with open arms. But, despite warmer temperatures, spring often comes with its fair share of rainy days. That means riders must know how to properly navigate slippery roads and dress for a soggy ride.
Possibly the most slippery time during a rainstorm is in the first few minutes, according to the Motorcycle Safety Association (MSF). Rain water begins to fill in the dimples of the asphalt and oil residue can float to the top, making for a very slick surface. The MSF suggests simply pulling over and waiting for the rain to pass.
When it comes to your riding attire, opt for breathable, waterproof or water-resistant clothing. If you don’t already have rain gear, consider getting some before the next downpour.
Summer has its own set of conditions that require a certain amount of attention.
Warm, even hot weather can result in your motorcycle’s tires having better grip than during more temperate times. Rubber gets softer and more elastic as it heats up, providing better road contact. You will likely be able to notice the improved traction of the bike’s tires when riding on asphalt, which may allow you to lean more confidently into turns, compared to colder seasons.
Despite the rising temperatures, it doesn’t necessarily mean wearing as little as possible while on your motorcycle is a good idea. During a long, hot ride (especially in sunny, dry climates), you should take precautions against sunburn and dehydration. Consider wearing breathable layers and in the most extreme conditions, you may try a wet layer of lightweight clothes with a breathable, protection layer on top of that. The wet clothes will be cooled by the wind flowing through the breathable outer layer that can also slow down evaporation.
Crisper air and falling leaves are the telltale signs that summer is over and fall is here. Before you have to worry about snow and ice, you may need to prepare for wet roads and slippery leaves littering your favorite stretch of road.
As leaves turn from green to yellow, orange, red and brown, they often fall to the ground, sometimes obscuring the surface of the road from the eyes of motorcycle riders. Be careful when riding over and through leaves, as they may be covering potholes or imperfections in the road that could affect your control of your bike. In addition, says the Illinois State Police, wet leaves could be slick and affect your wheels’ traction or make it more difficult to stop quickly.
Even the most fervent motorcycle riders will consider putting their bike away during the coldest months. Wind, snow, ice and frigid temperatures generally don’t make for great motorcycle riding conditions.
Before you hit the frozen road, check your tires. First, check the tread on your tires by doing the same “penny test” you might do on your car’s tires. Take an Abraham Lincoln penny, hold it between your thumb and forefinger so that the head is showing. Place the top of Lincoln’s head into one of the grooves of the tire’s tread. If any part of Lincoln’s head is obscured by the tread, you have a safe amount of tread. If you can see above Lincoln’s head, then you need a new tire.
Keeping your body warm and protected can require some serious gear, so plan ahead. Depending on the temperature, consider thermal underwear, glove liners, balaclavas and other base layers. Hypothermia due to severe wind chill can be a concern, especially riding a motorcycle. When the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit, traveling at 60 miles per hour can result in a wind chill of approximately 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To help warm your extremities, which are generally most susceptible to cold temperatures, consider using chemical heat packs on gloves and boots, or even outfit your bike with grip, seat and foot warmers.
Regardless of the season, through proper preparation and the use of the right equipment and gear, you can safely enjoy your motorcycle year-round.