Your motorbike doesn’t need to go into hibernation just because the weather is getting colder and rainier. Follow these tips to #BeSafe when you’re out on your motorbike this winter:
1. Invest in the right kit
Wind chill is a concern at time of year, and it increases with speed. It can take the ‘feels like’ temperature well into minus numbers in the winter months, making it a serious hazard that can affect your performance and reaction times, as well as your health. Heated clothing, such as gloves, jackets and vests, will give you vital protection in freezing conditions, but it’s worth checking that the electrical system on your bike can handle the extra load. Underneath your normal clothes, wearing thermal underclothes, a neck-warmer and balaclava will also help stave off the cold. Hand guards will help reduce the effect of the wind chill on your hands, as will handlebar muffs.
2. Ice isn’t the only danger
You don’t need us to tell you that icy roads are perilous for riders and drivers alike, but ice isn’t the only seasonal danger to watch out for. Wet leaves can be slippery, and after a winter storm there may be other debris on the road, such as fallen branches. Salt on the roads can also be a hazard, making the roads slippy as well as corroding your metalwork (be sure to wash your bike regularly to help prevent this).
3. Increase your braking distance
It takes longer to slow down on a wet surface, and winter conditions can increase your braking distance by as much as ten times. With this in mind, it’s important to give yourself extra room between you and the vehicle in front. Be extra observant in anticipating the road ahead, too – this will give you more time to react to obstacles.
4. Make yourself more visible
Foggy mornings, dark nights and spray on a wet road all reduce visibility for road-users, so it’s all the more important to make sure you can be seen. A high-visibility vest could mean the difference between a driver spotting you and not, and wearing gear that has reflective panels rather than just all black will help. As always, check all your lights are working correctly before you set out, as these will help drivers see you in their rear-view mirrors from further away.
5. Pre-ride checks
It’s not just your lights you should check before heading out on a winter’s day. A useful mnemonic to bear in mind is ‘T-CLOCS’: Tyres, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Stands. Check each of them before you leave, and don’t forget to ensure that the chain is sufficiently lubricated. In winter, it’s also worth using a coolant that contains antifreeze.