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A lot of riders won’t even consider riding in the unpredictable winter weather, they’ll ensure their bike is protected with a thick layer of grease, covered in an appropriate protective layer – tarpaulin for example – and stored in a garage or lock-up until the fresh buds of spring begin to appear.
It doesn’t have to be like that though, if you adopt the correct riding methods and make some small safety modifications to your bike, you can easily continue to ride throughout the most treacherous season.
Riding through the winter requires extreme caution as you’ll be faced with unfamiliar and sometimes unsafe conditions. Snow, ice, rain and strong winds make regular appearances throughout British winters and the majority of motorcyclists would agree that tackling icy roads is one of the worst and most dangerous aspects of motorcycling.
Here we present a list of hazards and helpful hints that will help you tackle the winter weather safely…
As far as your own comfort goes, you should have specific safety gear intended for winter. Winter riding gear really does make a massive difference to comfort and safety. The clothing will be much thicker, which not only means it’s warmer, but also added protection.
Remember, if you’re wet and cold you’ll become tired and lose concentration much more easily and because you’ll be focussing on your discomfort, your reactions will also be much slower than usual. On icy roads in dangerous conditions you really can’t afford to jeopardise your reactions.
The fact of the matter is that you and your bike need to be seen. Wearing reflective clothing makes you easily visible to other road users, increasing your safety considerably. It’s also a good idea, whenever possible, to make contact with drivers using their mirrors, to ensure that they’ve seen you.
It’s not only you that needs to be seen though, your bike needs to be seen too. Before the dark nights come in it’s a good idea to have your bike checked over by a professional to make sure all lights are working at their best. As well as making sure that your lights are working and adding new bulbs when necessary, you should also make sure all lights are visible and clear of dirt.
It’s not just you that could benefit from added visibility either, stick-on visibility strips attached to your bike – temporarily, during the winter period – will ensure you and your motorcycle are visible and seen by other road users.
Although it is more than possible to ride your bike all year round, it’s important to respect the fact that it’s winter and that conditions are unlikely to be on your side. This means allowing extra time for your journeys, extending the distance between you and vehicles in front of you and slow down to make sure you reach your destination successfully.
Another thing to check before the serious winter weather hits, is that your tyres are up to the challenge of winter riding. This doesn’t just mean checking that the tyre pressure is appropriate either; you should check the wear and condition of your tyres and replace them if necessary, to ensure you have the required grip for slippery conditions.
Remember, riding a motorcycle is certainly not the safest way of getting around. However, by taking the necessary steps, to improve the safety of yourself and your bike, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be riding all year round.