Stay safe on your motorcycle this winter

В рубриках: Automobile | Автор: admin 28.08.2011

Stay Safe on Your Motorcycle This Winter

Motorbike riding can be hazardous even for the most levelheaded and conservative of riders, as demonstrated by Department for Transportation statistics showing that there were 21,550 reported motorbike casualties in 2008, of which 6,049 resulted in death or serious injury, and the risk noticeably increases as weather and road conditions get worse. Some motorcycle riders will retire their motorcycles during the winter season but for many people, in particular those who commute on their bikes, that isn’t an option. Nevertheless, by exercising added care and using good sense, it is possible to minimise the risk.

Accomplished riders are familiar enough with their motorcycle to know how it handles, and how to ride safely. But as riding in winter time is completely unlike from riding in summer time, and for less experienced motorcyclists who haven’t yet ridden during the winter months, it is worth reminding yourself of the safety precautions that should be taken. Bear in mind though safety is never a guarantee, irrespective how much care is taken, so make sure that you are covered by appropriate bike insurance just in case.

Safety precautions that apply all year round should be followed with marked watchfulness in the winter months. It makes sense to give the motorbike a quick once over before riding it, to ensure that the tyres, lights and brakes are in working order. When checking the tyres, make certain that the pressure and treads are in proper condition for handling icy or wet roads, and remember that in colder temperatures it takes tyres longer to warm up and start gripping properly so be particularly careful when heading out.

It is essential to check that the lights work properly seeing that visibility is even more of an issue during poor weather conditions. Not only will fog or rain diminish what you can see, it will make you more difficult to be seen, so make sure you are extremely visible by wearing bright reflective outer clothing and by keeping your headlight on. To assist keeping your own line of sight clear, make certain your mirrors and visor are clean and unscratched, and spray them with an anti-mister. Additionally be mindful that visibility is still an issue on a bright and sunny winter’s day, when there is no rain, snow, fog or mist since the low winter sun that is blinding you is also blinding other drivers.

Keeping yourself warm may seem like an peculiar safety tip but warmth is all-important seeing that the colder you are, the more your concentration wanes, so wear thin layers to keep body heat trapped and wear any additional cold weather clothing you are comfy wearing. Cold hands don’t make for safe riding, seeing that once they get too cold you risk losing control of the motorcycle, so keep your hands especially warm with heated gloves or even heated handlebars. Purchase some proper rainwear for those rainy days, and generally speaking try to stay as warm and dry as possible.

It goes without saying that you have to be alert on wet and icy roads, keep your speed down and leave additional distance between you and other vehicles to account for those few added seconds of stopping time in an emergency. Be cautious of black ice and additionally keep in mind that on a sunny day there may still be ice on the road, especially in shady areas that the sun has not reached, and be wary of rain slicked roads. Rain fall brings oily residue to the road surface, making the roads particularly slippery. Stay off painted lines when possible, or be especially careful if crossing over them, as they can become highly slippery when wet.

It is in general advisable not to go out on your motorbike on snowy roads if it can be helped, but if you are out in the snow ride slowly and avoid making sudden moves that could cause the bike to topple over or skid. Some riders opt to ride in car tracks that have already been made in the snow, therefore avoiding fresh snow that will spray up and reduce visibility and also get stuck in the tyres and lessen the tyres’ grip, in which case ride cautiously on the compacted snow.

As for windy days, take special care as there is a danger of being blown off course slightly during high winds and you should keep a heedful eye out for any objects that might be blown into your path.

Motorbike upkeep is also a basic safety measure. Snow, ice and the salt on roads after a snow fall can all build up on your motorbike, corroding it. So make sure that you wipe down your motorbike after every ride, or better still hose and wash all the mess away. Your motorcycle needs to stay in top condition for you to ride safely.

With practice comes experience, so the more winter riding you do the more comfortable and undaunted you will become, just ensure that you avoid complacency and remain watchful and sensible at all times. The safety of you, your motorbike and everyone around you is at stake, so follow the necessary precautions, don’t take riding during the winter frivolously and if you still need an added incentive don’t forget that a clean record keeps your bike insurance rates down so you will also be doing your wallet a favour by staying safe.

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