As the winter weather sets in and temperatures drop below freezing it can be tempting to store your motorbike or scooter away until spring and catch the bus instead!
But winter can be a beautiful and exhilarating time to go out for a ride, as long as you take extra care to stay safe and warm and protect yourself from the elements.
It goes without saying that riders should always have appropriate bike and scooter insurance from a specialist like MCE Insurance, in order to be prepared for all eventualities this winter.
Take steps now to ensure your bike is in top condition before winter arrives. The last thing you want is to break down in freezing temperatures or have an accident. Make sure your tyres have the correct tread depth and air pressure and test your lights and indicators. Test the oil and brake fluid levels and check that the brakes are working properly.
Keeping warm while riding in cold weather is essential – not only to be comfortable but to stay safe as well. Cold hands and feet won’t respond as quickly as when they are warmed up and wind chill is a significant risk. Block the wind by using a bolt-on windscreen and protect your face and head with a balaclava or ski mask under your helmet.
There is a wide range of winter riding gear available including electrically heated body suits and insulating layers to protect your body. Fleece, wool or down layers offer extra protection for your arms and torso and wearing thick wool socks underneath your boots will keep your feet warm. As long as you can operate the controls safely, ski gloves are also a good idea. If you are making a long journey, plan to stop regularly to have a hot drink to warm yourself up.
Always check the weather before heading out. Drive conservatively and avoid sharp braking or acceleration which can lead to skids. Take care to avoid pot holes which can fill with rain and masquerade as puddles and learn how to spot – and avoid – black ice.
The painted surface of white lines can get extremely slippery so avoid riding too close to the centre of the road. Keep plenty of distance between yourself and the vehicle in front, make sure you are visible at all times and use your lights when visibility is poor. In wet weather, remember pedestrians may not always be aware of you. They may be keeping their heads down or have their vision obstructed by hoods or umbrellas so take extra care around them.
If you decide not to brave the elements, it is best to store your motorcycle or scooter inside if you can. Thoroughly clean your bike before putting it away to prevent corrosion. Dry the bike completely then wax the paint, chrome and polished surfaces. Change the oil before you store it, fully inflate the tyres and make sure the battery is fully charged before putting your bike or scooter away.