Whatever the time of year, one of the best things about being a rider is the freedom of the open road! There’s no feeling quite like getting on the back of your bike and taking it where the road leads. But, whether it’s spring or fall, there are a lot of challenges that go along with riding a motorcycle. That’s why it’s always important to take precautions no matter what season it is. From road conditions to the state of your bike, there are many things you should be aware of.
Winter motorcycling might be full of surprise storms and cold winds, but dealing with the heat isn’t always a picnic either. In fact, the warmer weather has its very own set of hazards that every rider should be aware of. Whether you’re going on a long haul journey astride your Kawasaki or heading out on the Honda, there are few things more pleasant than summer riding. But, it’s important to be ready for what the season can throw at you! Whether it’s being prepared for flash rainfall or taking extra water, here are some tips to get you through the summer.
Check Your Bike
One of the most important things you can do before riding your motorcycle is check out your bike. It might seem unnecessary, but it’s a necessity when it comes to being road ready. Make sure you turn on your bike and ensure that all of the lights and signals are in good working order. Give the tires and kick a look for any signs of excess wear and tear. You should also start up your bike and make sure all the part and pieces are firmly in place. From frame guards and bash plates to engine case covers, everything should be rust free and effectively attached. It can be easy to take the well being of your bike for granted if you always take care of it. But, doing a pre-ride review goes a long way towards keeping you safe.
Clear Out the Cooling System
The basics of bike maintenance will go a long way towards keeping you on the road in summer. However, there’s an entirely different set of challenges in warm weather to be prepared for. In addition to giving your bike the once over, check out your engine cooling. If your equipment is clean and leak free, there’s a much better chance it’s going to keep your bike cool on a long haul road journey. You’ll also want to use a bristle brush to clear out anything that might have accumulated in your radiator or oil cooler. Check the cooling fins as well and ensure that they’re clear of any debris or dirt. In addition to checking your system, make sure that you also take a look at the fluids. If your coolant is at maximum effectiveness and your oil is clean, your bike will be better prepared to deal with the heat.
Pack the Right Stuff
Packing light is certainly an important goal for every motorcycle rider. But, there are plenty of things that it’s good to have whether you’re going for a couple hours or a few days. Instead of expecting the best, plan for the worst and take everything you might need. This includes your ID, your motorcycle insurance, your phone charger and a map for those areas where your phone might not work. You can also bring a notepad and paper where writing something down will be better than using technology. If you’re going for a few hours in the hot summer heat, items like deodorant, suntan lotion and lip balm are necessities. But, you might also want to grab toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap and moisturizer if you’ll be staying anywhere along the road. And, most important of all the important things is your trusted tool kit! Oftentimes, riders will take stuff out of a tool kit without replacing it. So, before you head out, check it over and ensure you have all the items you might need. This includes a hex key, air pump, screwdriver and adjustable wrench. While you might not find yourself in any situations, it always offers peace of mind to have the right tools in case.
Don’t Forget Water
Whether you’re going for an afternoon drive or a long haul journey, it’s just as important to be prepared in the warmer months. Taking water along for the ride is pretty important when it comes to keeping you hydrated and healthy. Since you’ll be on the road under the hot sun, you’ll need to pack plenty so you can avoid any issues with heat exhaustion. As a rider, it’s always tempting to minimize what you pack. But, when it comes to the hot summer months, it’s very important not to skimp on water! You never know when a roadside stop might not be around and you’ll be out, so invest in a good rotopax container and pack more than you think you’ll need. In addition, take some snacks like granola bars or nuts so you don’t have to rely on gas stations or convenience stores. And, even if you’re drinking plenty of water, it’s also a good idea to avoid dehydrating drinks like coffee and alcohol.
Wear the Right Gear
When warm, beachy weather rolls around, it can be pretty tempting to want to throw caution to the wind and ride in your T-shirt. But, accidents are just as likely in the summer and that means you need to wear all the gear. It might not be the most comfortable, but wearing a jacket, gloves, boots and a helmet can really save you. This will ensure that you’re protected in the event of any problems on the road. And, if you want to dress properly but still stay comfortable, you’ll want to pack some extras. It goes without saying that summer travel on a bike can be hot. As a result, pack some extra wicking shirts so that you can change at a roadside stop. It might not be the same as biking in a T-shirt and jeans, but it will keep you a little more comfortable.
Know Your Route
One of the greatest pleasures of getting on the motorcycle is being able to head off into the unknown. But, when it comes to hot and cold weather, it’s much better to have a plan in place. While you don’t have to stick with it, you should have a general idea of where you’re going and how long it will take. This will prepare you and also ensure your bike is primed and ready for the journey. You don’t want to have any issues along the road, so having a tentative plan in place is important. It’s also a good idea to be aware of towns and destinations along the way. Whether you stop or not, these will still provide the option of taking a breather.
Plan for a Break
When you’re on your motorbike, it’s easy to get caught up in the freedom of the road and forget about breaks. But, when it comes to warm weather, it’s even more important to sideline yourself for a few minutes. Whether you’ve pinpointed some roadside destinations ahead of time or simply need to pull to the shoulder, make sure you schedule time for these! The fatigue of riding in the heat can come on pretty quickly and the only way to avert it is by being proactive. If you can get into a cool gas station or restaurant for some fresh air, it’s great for breaking up your ride. But, if your breaktime only consists of pulling over once every hour for a walkabout, that can do the trick too.
Watch the Road
Whether it’s rainy or snowy conditions, the winter months can wreak havoc on the roads. And, every motorcycler is well aware of the hazards of the roads in the colder months. But, that doesn’t mean that riding in summer is any old picnic. There are actually a lot of hazards that every rider should be watching out for in the warmer months. There is usually a lot more road construction in the summer months, and that means that new pavement or tar snakes might appear. Construction not only requires attention but a more cautious riding style, so be prepared for some slow downs. Motorcycle crash bars can also come in handy when it comes to keeping you protected. As well, if you happen to be riding the roads a lot at night, animals can be a little bit more active when the air is a bit warmer. Make sure that you have your headlights on and are focused on the journey.
Prepare for Stormy Weather
If you’re an old pro at packing your motorcycle tank bags and carry racks, there’s a pretty good chance you have everything you need. But, simply because it’s summer doesn’t mean that you can only expect sunshine! It’s common knowledge that summer in Australia can be a pretty rainy time. That’s why it’s important to prep your routes and your packing style in the event of rain. In addition to having extra lightweight shirts with wicking properties, bring your rain gear! If you don’t already have a FirstGear Rainman jacket, invest in this item and pack it away for the moments you need it. A pair of waterproof gloves will also come in handy if the weather suddenly turns. While having the right gear is key, you’ll also want to watch the roads. Rain can make roads slick and unruly, so slow down and stay cautious.
Start Out Early
There’s nothing quite like getting out on the road before anyone else is on it for an early morning cruise. But, this can be an especially worthwhile goal when it comes to riding your bike in the summertime! Drinking plenty of water and taking breaks will certainly help you beat the heat. However, the hottest time of the day is in the afternoon, so getting on your bike early can mean your day ends a lot sooner. Instead of having to deal with the hot afternoon heat, you may already be at your destination if you started out early. While it doesn’t have to be a plan for every day of your journey, it can be an easy way to make some days a little bit easier.
Be Aware of Heat Exhaustion
Whether it’s on a hike or a day at work, we all have moments where we try and push through. But, if you’re dealing with the summer heat on the back of a bike, pushing through is not a good option. Before heading out, it’s very important to be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion so you can cut it off at the pass. While hydration and breaks are important for keeping you cool, you’ll want to watch out for symptoms like dizziness, muscle cramping, headaches and disorientation. Without a doubt, symptoms like this can have an adverse impact on your motorcycle riding skills. So, if you do feel any of the following on a hot day, it may be time to pull over and take a long breather. You may also want to stop at an air-conditioned destination for a cold drink or something to eat.
There are few greater pleasures in life than getting on the back of your bike to ride down the highway. From the hot sun to the clear roads, this is the stuff that motorcycle dreams are made of! But, just because the sunny days are ideal doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to watch out for. When you’re summer riding, it’s just as important to be prepared for anything.
While making sure all the fluids are good is key, you’ll also want to take the right gear and have a plan for your route. From your bash plates to your chain guard, take a look at your bike beforehand to make sure everything is as it should be. To keep yourself cool and collected, ensure that you’re taking plenty of breaks and starting out in the mornings to avoid the worst of the heat. There are things you’ll want to be aware of when riding in the summer. But, by following a few important motorcycle riding tips, you’ll be ready for a great ride.