How Motorists Can Stay Safe This Winter

Posted: December 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

The bitter cold winter has gradually crept its way into Britain this past week with temperatures dropping below zero degrees. While the views become pristine and picturesque, the roads become more dangerous due to wet, frost, ice and foggy conditions.

To be a safe motorist this winter you will need to consider three main areas: your driving, your bike and your clothing. It doesn’t matter if you have been riding for one year or ten years, every biker needs to ride with caution during these dangerous weather conditions.

How to ride safely

Bikers need to ride with extra care during winter; they need to be far more alert and ride at a much lower speed. The slower the speed, the more observant you will be, allowing you to anticipate any hazards on the roads.

Riding at a lower speed will improve your reaction times and improve your ability to perform on the motorcycle. A slower pace will also allow for greater braking distance which is necessary when roads are wet or icy. The recommended braking distance in wet conditions is a 4 second gap.

Motorcycling in the snow

Other motorists unfortunately may not be taking the same precautions as you, and this is something you need to be prepared for. If they are driving unsafely, they may be a hazard to you so make sure you leave plenty of distance between yourself and other vehicles.

Corners become far more dangerous so make sure you slow down before reaching your point of turn. Also be wary of wet leaves and mud which tend to cement themselves on the roads, these tend to make roads unsafe, so ride with care to avoid skidding.

If you are concerned about your commute, it is best to plan your journey well ahead. Leave in plenty of time and anticipate slower traffic. You need to accept that your commute may take longer in winter.

How to prepare your motorcycle

Your motorcycle needs a lot more care in winter before you set out on the road.

Check your tyres when they are cold and make sure they meet the recommended tread. The UK minimum is 1mm. Check for any damages and make sure they have the correct pressure. If you are concerned about the quality of your tyres,  you get them seen to before they become a hazard.

Tools of the Trade - Motorcycle Mechanic

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/jackazphotography/5533780781/”>JackAZ Photography</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com”>Foter</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

You can protect your bike by using a bike wash and avoid using excessive amounts of anti-freeze. If you use too much, the engine tends to overheat because glycol has poor heat transfer capabilities compared to water.

Look after your chain by keeping it regularly lubricated with chain oil. Always make sure it is well adjusted as wet and salty roads damage motorcycle chains.

Take some time to check your battery; your battery will be working harder in the winter months because of the low temperatures so always check that it is charged. Trickle chargers are a great investment as they ensure your batteries are ready every morning.

How to dress appropriately for riding

Keeping yourself safe is just as important as keep your bike safe. Investing in specialist winter riding gear will significantly improve your comfort, warmth and support.

Leather motorcycle clothing is probably the most beneficial gear as it protects against the ice cold winds and freezing temperatures. One piece suits are the best protectors as the cold is less likely to creep in.

Alternatively, there is plenty of motorcycle clothing on the market made from modern technology, specifically designed to be more efficient in cold conditions. Gore-tex is breathable, windproof and waterproof and acts as an excellent barrier against bad conditions during winter. Garments made from gore-tex usually have a thermal lining providing further warmth. The lining is usually removable, making the garments suitable for both winter and summer.

As a rule of thumb, good winter motorcycle clothing should be double-lined and made with man-made fibres.

It is important to try on motorcycle clothing for fit and comfort purposes. Try on clothing as if you were seated on your bike. A jacket may fit well while standing, however the jacket may rise up your body while seated, meaning there are gaps where the cold can get through.

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Many riders believe tight-fit motorcycle clothing equals more warmth, when actually looser outerwear improves circulation. Never wear two pairs of socks as the tightness will reduce circulation, meaning your feet with become colder, quicker.

Protect your hands by wearing suitable gloves. Leather or waterproof gloves are appropriate. You can even buy liner gloves which can be worn as thermals.

Balaclavas and neck tubes are cheap to buy and will protect your nose and ears from the cold.

Pin-lock or visor linings will prevent your visor becoming misty in the cold weather. This will enable you to keep your visor shut throughout your journey.

Prepare and ride with care this winter and wrap up warm in appropriate motorcycle clothing for a safer commute.

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