If you are a biker, you no doubt have the internal battle with yourself every winter whether to ride or not. Many bikers, understandably, decide that there is not a chance on earth that their motorbike will be coming out of the garage during the winter months. The tarpaulin stays secured over it, and the boots and jacket stay firmly tucked away in the wardrobe until the sun comes out and the temperatures begin to rise.
Other bikers have no choice but to ride all year round. It may be their only form of transport, or maybe they just feel a lot more confident in their riding skills in the harsh conditions. If you are one of these all-weather, all year riders, you need to think about changing your style of riding to keep you and other road users safe. In this article, we share a few tips to help keep you on your bike and on your road.
1) Make sure you have excellent quality protective clothing and equipment
This is important whatever time of the year, but even more so in the winter. The bare minimum that you should have is a good quality and well-fitting helmet, jacket and trousers with protective armor, gloves and sturdy boots. Make sure that they all fit well – they will be little use if they come off if you have a crash! It is also a clever idea to have a high vis jacket or vest to increase your visibility to other road users. For comfort, you may want to consider thermals, balaclavas and neck warmers.
2) Increase your braking distance
The average braking distance can increase by up to ten times in harsh wintery conditions. Naturally, if you aren’t careful, this raises the risk of an accident. You need to ensure that you leave more room between you and the vehicle in front, slowing down if necessary. If someone is tailgating you, pull in to a safe spot and allow them to carry on with their journey.
3) Use your common sense
Even if motorbikes are your only form of transport or you feel confident, you need to use your common sense. If it is thick snow or threatened heavy snow, you may want to consider leaving the bike at home and using public transport for your journey. It is important to be aware of patches of hidden black ice, which you may not see until it is too late.
4) Take your time and concentrate
When you’re cold, wet and tired, it can be tempting to crank up the throttle and try and get home as quickly as possible. It is the wrong time of year to rush and take shortcuts when it comes to your safety. Slow down, stay alert and watch out for other road users who may not be paying attention. Remember the things that you taught when you were learning to pass your road test, which you can find in this guide, and you will be fine.