As a motorcyclist, you can’t always carry everything you need. As such, it can be difficult to adapt to varying weather conditions on the fly, so it helps to expect the unexpected at all times.
This is because so much can change on a trip – especially a long one – that you cannot expect the driving conditions to stay the same. Even factors such as tyre temperature can influence your ride. Of course, minor changes are natural, but that doesn’t mean that you always remain unaffected. We all know the weather reporters sometimes get it wrong.
So, how can you prepare for the unexpected?
Keep Up To Date With Weather Alerts
The weather may very well change between the time you set off and the moment when you return. Because of this, make sure you keep up to date with weather reports throughout the day. Also, learn to recognise common symptoms of a weather change. If the temperature rises or drops more than it should, this could be the first sign of an oncoming storm, excess rain, or even an unexpected dry period.
This is crucial because on a motorcycle, you constantly have to adapt to the weather. If it starts to rain, you should adjust your speed and slow down. Don’t forget that it’s easier to lose control on wet surfaces. While a car can cope with aquaplaning it’s much more difficult with only 2 wheels.
Keeping an eye on the weather (and always using your common sense) will help ensure it doesn’t take you by surprise.
While you might not be a mechanic, it never hurts to know a little maintenance. An allen wrench can help you out of a variety of minor situations. If you get stuck miles from a garage, it’s much easier to fix it yourself then wait for assistance.
You’re also never going to be able to fit any spare tyres onto your bike with ease so, unless you can find room in the back, you should at least ensure you have a small, compact puncture repair kit.
Likewise, you consider looking after yourself as well. Whether you’re planning a long trip or a quick jaunt, you should always have access to water and snacks to conserve your energy. It’s not a bad idea to bring a little more than what you intend to need: after all, the weather may cause you to slow down or even come to a complete stop – you never know.
A first aid kit is another must. This might sound like a lot to fit onto one bike, but there are many extra storage options available on the market. And if you’re driving in a group, you can always distribute supplies to help even the load. This can be useful on longer trips into the countryside, where a self-assembled survival kit can prove useful in the worst weather conditions.
Know Your Limits
While many people enjoy the thrill of letting their motorbike go as fast as possible, it’s not always recommended. Obviously, in case of snow, ice and other slippery conditions, slower speed is much safer. No matter how icy or slippery the surface looks, always assume it is worse than it is. Roads can often be very misleading: try guessing how deep a puddle is on a road you’re not familiar with.
Similarly, you should also consider the practical limits of your ride. Keep the parameters of your motorcycle tyres in mind, as for instance, their tyre speed rating may be lower than your car’s. A clear road in warm conditions can be just as dangerous if it makes you speed up without paying attention.
Especially true when you’re driving in unfamiliar territory, but in fact, it’s important always and everywhere.
You should never assume what lies ahead if you can’t see it. For example, taking a sharp corner might be appealing, but you might not realise how sharp the corner actually is. Likewise, be aware of the fact that you might not notice an obstruction. Unfortunately ice patches, potholes or bumps are quite common. Instead, try entering corners wide and slow, accelerating once you have a clear view ahead.
Finally, don’t ignore right dressing for the occasion – driving suits, as well as other specialised items of motorcycle clothing, are designed not only to keep you warm but also to protect you, so they are worth wearing.
All in all, unpredictable weather along with the need to reduce your load make it seem hard to prepare for everything. But it isn’t impossible to get ready for most situations – the above tips . Unlike users of other forms of transport, motorcyclists are always exposed to the elements, so there is a greater need, if anything, to be more prepared.