Motorbike riding in bad weather
If you have a motorbike as your main form of transport, rather than just for fun at the weekends, you will have to get used to handling it in all kinds of weather conditions. Wet or icy conditions can pose particular problems for the unwary biker, and although some of the more upmarket models may come fitted with ABS (Anti-lock Braking systems) which, will help in such situations, the majority of riders have to learn how to cope without them.
Rain, ice or snow provides issues with both traction and visibility. Traction is obviously the major concern for most motorbike riders. Apart from the road surface itself, certain road features such as painted road markings and manhole covers will offer a lot less grip when they become wet. An area of the road with a lot of painted road markings can become a tricky place to use your brakes in an emergency. Always look ahead and adjust your speed downwards so you do not have to rely too heavily on your brakes in wet or slushy road conditions.
Most road users know that driving through large puddles can cause a sudden loss of speed or traction when you go through them, and so it is wise to slow down if you can't avoid them. However the bike rider needs to take extra care because even a small puddle indicates a slight dip in the road surface, which in turn could conceal a metal manhole cover, or worse a pothole.
A good quality set of tyres can make a big difference to braking performance in wet conditions, also a slight increase in your tyre pressures can also improve traction in bad weather.
Turning a motorcycle on icy or wet surfaces demands gentle controlled handling. Braking abruptly or making sudden steering changes could lead to a sudden loss of grip. Start your turns more gradually, change down smoothly, engaging the clutch a little slower than usual, and avoid abrupt throttle changes. Use a higher gear to reduce the forces reaching the rear tyre.
Apply the brakes in such a way that the tyres are not loaded abruptly. Allow more space in front of you to give you more time to stop, and also signal earlier to warn other vehicles that you are about to manoeuvre.
If you don't already own one, consider wearing a high visibility jacket or vest. No it doesn't look 'cool', but it could save your life. Rain, fog or snow can reduce visibility considerably, and any 'hi-viz' reflective clothing will enable drivers of other vehicles to see you from some distance away, even in the worst weather conditions.
Also consider your own vision. Your view can be impaired by your helmet visor or windscreen fogging when it is wet or cold. There are many cheap spray products which can help deflect moisture from your helmets visor in wet weather.
Anti-fogging products seem to have varying degrees of effectiveness, and everyone will have their own tips for this one. One good tip is to smear a couple of drops of washing up liquid on the inside of the visor and let it dry, also make sure your helmet has a good airflow inside it.
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