Motorcyclists generally fall into two groups – those who dust off their bikes when the weather gets warmer and the days get longer and those who battle the elements riding their bike all year round.
It doesn’t matter when you ride. You’ve got to be alert at all times, and deal with the hazards thrown at you, which is all the more difficult in some weather conditions or at different times of the day or year.
Being on two wheels means that you are more vulnerable than other road users and the lack of visibility at night means that you need your wits about you even more at night.
Most riders put their bikes away for the cold wet winter months, although for others it is simply their only way to get from A to B. With British weather as unpredictable as it is, it’s worth regularly refreshing your road craft knowledge, and ALWAYS perform the “POWER” checks before getting on your bike. Thoroughly check your bike before you go out in order to make sure it is still roadworthy.
If you haven’t been on the bike all winter, then you will be rusty. Don’t get carried away and take risks.
Before you set off, check the weather forecasts and consider putting off your journey or taking a different mode of transport if the weather looks particularly bad.
Concentration and Focus
You will need to concentrate harder in difficult weather conditions, so make sure that you are mentally prepared and focussed to anticipate the additional winter hazards such as wet leaves and salt on the road. NEVER ride if you’re tired, particularly at night. Be aware of signs of fatigue, and make regular stops to get off the bike and stretch your legs.
- Don’t compromise on safety – it may be tempting to ride in a t shirt when the temperatures rise during the summer, but protective clothing is the only barrier between you and the road, should the worst happen.
- Don’t forget that it gets colder at night - even in the summer – so make sure you’ve got warm clothing or plenty of layers. Consider thermals and waterproof clothing, including boots, or you’ll soon feel the cold if you get wet.
- Make sure that you and any pillion passengers wear high visibility clothing so that you can be seen by other road users at a distance. If you are carrying luggage such as rucksacks, invest in some high visibility sticky strips.
- Check your helmet regularly for signs of damage and worn straps. Replace scratched visors.
- If you have to ride in poor weather conditions, use anti-mist sprays and treatments to help minimise fogging, or if you reduce your speed enough, slightly open your visor.
- If you are a frequent night rider, replace your visors regularly – scratched, dirty or damaged visors are even more of a hazard in the dark.
- Never wear a tinted visor at night – it is illegal, and your vision will be hampered.
- Slow down. In difficult conditions, reduce your speed to give you more time to react and brake.
- Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front by at least double when riding in the rain
- Anticipate. Look ahead for changes in the road surface and adjust your riding accordingly.
- Some road surfaces such as cat’s eyes and road markings can get slippery when wet, so avoid them whenever possible. Watch out for diesel spills which often appear as a rainbow pattern in the wet.
- Avoid sudden changes in your driving or leaving manoeuvres until the last minute.
Control your bike particularly smoothly in wet weather. Not only do you need to be gentle with the brakes, clutch and throttle, but also think about how grip will be affected.