Riding to the conditions

By Martin Cariven, New Business Manager, Moneybarn

Riding your bike on an open stretch of road during a hot, summer’s day – there’s nothing quite like it – but there will always be occasions when you’ll face less than ideal conditions.

Motorcyclists are roughly 38 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident than car drivers, so it’s essential to be vigilant on the roads.

Moneybarn has put together a guide on how to adapt your riding style and be prepared for different conditions, so you can be safe on the roads all year round.

Biking in the city

One major advantage of riding a motorcycle in the city is being able to filter between traffic at lights or in queues. However, you must be cautious: other drivers are unpredictable. Be extra alert of hazards such as vehicles switching lanes, opening car doors, wing mirrors and cars near the white line.

City traffic and speed restrictions will mean you are often riding slowly. When a gap appears, you may be tempted to nip through quickly. However, other road users may have the same idea, so slow down to give yourself more time to think and act.

Stop-start traffic can cause more wear and tear on tyres. Make sure you check them regularly to see if they are in good condition and at the correct pressure, according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Long country rides

While you might think quiet country roads are less dangerous than a busy city, think again: 68% of motorbike fatalities happen on country roads.

Country roads are rarely straight and if you go into a bend too fast you could lose control. Make sure you keep a steady, safe speed and do not apply the front brake when turning. Tyres have a limited amount of grip which, if exceeded, could result in skidding.

Gusts of wind across fields can be strong, so you need to be prepared and adjust your road position accordingly. Move closer to the left so you don’t drift onto the wrong side of the road.

Be wary on frosty mornings

Like driving in a car, ice on the roads can be extremely dangerous for motorcycles and stopping distances can increase tenfold. Look further ahead to spot hazards before they happen, which will increase your stopping distance and reaction time. Keeping your distance will also help you avoid any icy debris from vehicles in front.

If you find yourself skidding, look ahead to where you want to go and try to maintain balance until you hit a patch with more grip. Braking could lead to uncontrolled sliding, so firmly pull in the clutch and freewheel to regain control.

The enemy of the biker – rain

While you may feel like pockets full of water are your biggest issue during rain, it’s actually varying levels of tyre grip. Tyres have a limited amount of traction, which declines in wet or slippery conditions. When braking in wet weather, you will need to apply even brake pressure to the front and rear of your bike to reduce the risk of skidding.

Different types of road surface, road markings and drains offer enough grip in the dry, but when wet they can be as slippery as ice. Always ride with plenty of room for error – slow down and keep your distance. Wherever possible, change your line to avoid areas likely to be slippery.