As the leaves on the trees turn brown and fall away, so too do many motorcycle riders. A substantial proportion of motorcyclists pack their bikes away over the winter, preferring to brave icy roads, heavy rains and cold winds from the comfort of a car or other enclosed transport.
Yet while summer riding has obvious attractions, there is also a lot to be said for taking to two wheels in the colder months. If you know the risks and how to reduce them, you should be able to enjoy zipping about on your motorbike all year round. Taking precautions will protect your personal safety as well as reducing the likelihood that you will have to claim on your insurance.
1. Know the forecast and the risks
As a winter rider, it’s important to know what weather is predicted and what this means for road conditions. For example, heavy rain in autumn can make leaves on the road become particularly slippery. Wet conditions and freezing temperatures mean ice patches, while foggy weather will obviously result in lower visibility. Reducing your speed and allowing longer braking distances will help you reduce the risk of slips and collisions.
2. Wrap up warm
Coldness is not just uncomfortable for motorcyclists; it’s a hazard. When your body gets cold, your responses weaken and it becomes harder to concentrate. Stay warm with a snug leather one-piece or layered clothing to trap the air, plus stout boots, a neck tube and high-quality gloves to keep out the chills.
3. Ride cautiously
You might be the best motorcyclist in the world, but you can still become injured if someone else fails to pay attention. This is particularly important in winter conditions, dark and rainy weather reduce visibility. Pedestrians and cyclists may be less observant on the roads as they hide under umbrellas, hats and scarves. Take extra care and wear high-visibility clothing to reduce your risk.
4. Keep your bike in top condition
As the harsher weather sets in, take the time to service your bike so it is ready for winter. Checking tyre pressure and other settings are low-cost and simple to do, but can have a significant impact on your safety. Whenever you set out on your bike, carry out a quick systems check so you know your lights, indicators, brakes and gears are working properly.
5. Ride smart
While you should follow road signs carefully at any time of year, in the winter months it is especially important. Anticipating hazards such as sharp bends, dips or water on the road is really crucial because your brakes will be less effective and road spray may suddenly reduce visibility. Keep your distance from other vehicles and pay close attention to traffic warnings.
6. Avoid hazards
In warm weather you can go almost anywhere, anytime, without too much advance planning. The dark days of December, January and February are another matter: strong crosswinds, sudden floods and fallen debris pose particular dangers. If your route includes a stretch of road which is risky, consider going a longer way around.
By following these simple precautions you can significantly reduce your chances of having an accident. But if the worse does happen, you can be confident in the knowledge that our experts will be there to guide you through your claim and make the whole process as stress-free as possible.