Motorcycles are a ton of fun, but with all that fun comes the potential for danger. Not only do you have to keep a close eye on road conditions and keep your bike in peak riding condition at all times, you also have to deal with other motorists who might not see you. Hazards are numerous, but luckily, with a little bit of preparation and vigilant defensive riding, you can reduce those hazards and stay safe.
Riding in bad weather can be a hair-raising experience. Rain, snow, ice, wind, and even hot weather can all present unique challenges and if you aren't prepared for what mother nature brings to the table, you could find yourself in serious trouble. Make sure to check the weather before you head out for rides and bring any equipment that you might end up needing. If severe weather is even a possibility, don't risk it. A small amount of ice or other precipitation can virtually eliminate all traction. On the other hand, extremely high heat can be just as dangerous. Dehydration will set in much quicker than you expect, and before you know it you could end up with dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, which are extremely dangerous on a motorcycle where you must keep your balance.
Keep Your Bike Maintained
Part of motorcycle safety is keeping your gear in good riding shape. Simple things like a flat tire or a broken transmission can be extremely dangerous at highway speeds. Many elements of motorcycle maintenance can be completed at home. A tire pressure gauge is a cheap and helpful tool that will allow you to keep your tires inflated to the proper pressure at all times. Checking your oil, transmission, and brake fluids is another easy step. Before you head out, always complete a pre-ride inspection to make sure your bike is in good enough shape to ride. It's important that you don't ignore your bike's maintenance just because you don't consider yourself mechanically inclined. Make sure to continue performing whatever level of inspection you can and then compensate for the rest by scheduling regular check ups with trained technicians. Change your tires, oil, and filters before they are scheduled to be, and take your bike into the shop if you think you notice any other problems.
Get the Best Gear
Unless you avoid riding in bad weather altogether the gear you invest in will be your main tool for keeping bad weather at bay while you ride. If you are a commuter or live in a particularly rainy area, make sure to invest in a full face helmet to protect you from rain and road spray. Try to find an anti-fogging lens for your helmet face mask, as this will help keep your field of vision clear. A one piece riding suit will give you much better protection from rain and wind that eliminates the gap at the waist where water can seep in. You'll also want to invest in a pair of sturdy, waterproof riding boots and some heavily insulated riding gloves.
Keep Your Head on a Swivel
For all the preparation that you can do, there are some things that you just can't prepare for. You can't prepare for other drivers who are texting while driving and you can't always know when a construction crew will cover the road with a slippery metal plate. For all of these things, your only tool is defensive driving and keeping alert. Try to look a few cars ahead to spot problems early, but don't take your eyes off the road in front of you. Slow down before you get to intersection so you can see if anyone might try to pull out in front of you. And make sure that you go into every ride with a clear head. That means avoiding psychoactive drugs (prescription or recreational) and alcohol, and getting enough rest so that you don't fall asleep while riding.
If you make sure you're prepared and that you have as much information as possible, you'll avoid many hazardous riding situations. Always check the weather, make sure your bike is in good riding shape, and keep your eyes up for any problems on the road around you.