Fall On the Road

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Cold weather riding tips for bikers

The arrival of cooler temperatures means motorcycle enthusiasts should have a plan in place for their vehicles. Although fall sees many riders pack their bikes into the garage to wait out the winter, many others see no reason to quit the great outdoors just because colder weather is on the way.

No matter which path riders take and when they take it, preparation is essential when riding motorcycles. Here are a few pointers for riders to consider once the leaves have started to change color.

Layer up

Layering clothing is a key component of riding a motorcycle in colder temperatures. Many people are not very active on the back of a bike, so they will not generate enough heat on their own. Layering clothing will take the bite out of frosty winds and any precipitation that happens to be falling.

Layer clothing so that you will feel comfortable, maybe even a bit warm when you are just standing around outdoors. A first layer of thermal or fleece  is a good idea. Then layer other materials as needed for comfort. Just do not wear so many layers that your mobility is compromised. If layers are not keeping you warm enough, invest in heated clothing.

The outermost layer you wear should be weather- and wind-resistant. Wind chill can quickly sap your energy and cut your ride considerably. Leather clothing will fit the bill in most cases, but a rain suit or some other waterproof material also may be necessary at times.

Leaves

Leaves can be a significant hazard to riders in the fall. Damp leaves can make a slippery mess of roads, particularly on turns and curves.

Avoid all piles of leaves, as you do not know what may be hiding beneath them. Consider wet leaves as dangerous as black ice, as soggy leaves can be just as slippery.

Salt and sand

Road maintenance crews will use sand and salt to keep roads clear when snow and ice forms. Avoid riding on salty roads because the salt can corrode chrome and paint. If you choose to do any winter riding, apply a coat of wax to all parts of the motorcycle before going for a ride. This will help protect it and enable any salt to be easily wiped off after riding.

Standing water

If it rains or snows lightly after an extended period of dryness, oils in the road can come to the surface, making roads quite slick. In addition, stay on the lookout for puddles and other standing water. While motorcycle tires are good for displacing water, they still can hydroplane. Stay focused when riding on wet surfaces.

Foraging animals

One potential hazard riders may not consider is wildlife. Harvested crops reduce easy food sources, and animals may be on the move looking for food. Deer can be pushed out of fields by hunters. A collision with a deer can damage a car, never mind a motorcycle. Always use caution in rural areas, particularly at dawn and dusk.

Winterizing

If you choose to store your bike when the weather starts to get cold, remember to put a fuel stabilizer in the tank, fill the tank with gas and hook the battery up to a battery tender. This will ensure the bike is ready to hit the road when the temperatures warm up.