Whether a new or experienced rider, you can improve your safety by appropriately judging the road conditions. Frequently riding on various road surfaces, including gravel, dirt and wet roads can train you to have automatic responses to deteriorating conditions. What follows are some tips for riding on various conditions:
- Riding in strong winds can present a challenge. If there is a side wind, it’s best to grip the handlebars tightly, maintain your feet positioning on the pegs or floorboards and push your body into the wind. If there’s a front or rear wind, gripping tightly will help you be ready for any sudden wind gusts.
- If it begins to rain while you are riding; slow down and proceed carefully. The first 20 minutes of rain will wash the oil and grime off the road and make it safer. It is preferred to stop at an overpass or roadside area with cover for 20 minutes. If you are riding on wet roads, it is important to pump the front brake and lightly tap the rear brake when you need to slow down. Using both brakes is recommended, but use them together and smoothly. Sudden braking on newly wet roads can spell disaster.
- At stop lights or intersections, the center of the road is the most slippery, since oil leaks from vehicles tend to accumulate there. The best place to stop is to the left or right third of the lane, but be careful when placing your foot down, that you don’t step in slippery oil. Good, solid, non slip riding boots will make a difference here.
- When riding on gravel look in the direction you want to go and decrease your speed as needed. Before using the brakes, attempt to slow down by releasing the throttle. Use both brakes methodically, together and smoothly. Never hit the front brake hard.
- Treat metal grates like gravel. Look in the direction you want to go, and decrease your speed. If you are on a metal grate bridge, they can be very slippery, especially when wet, and the best response is to avoid using your brakes and go slowly. If you have to use your brakes, again use both front and rear together.
- When there is an object in the road, first attempt to avoid it by smoothly steering around it. If that is not possible, try to hit the object squarely and stand up and pull back on the handlebars to decrease the load on the front of the motorcycle.
- When crossing railroad tracks slow down and try to cross at a slight angle.
- Occasionally, you will be confronted with a stretch of highway that has been made rough in preparation for asphalting. This surface is similar to riding in gravel, as the wheel will attempt to move from side to side. Your best option is to slow down, grip the handlebars tightly and steer straight ahead. Use brakes cautiously and use both brakes smoothly. Avoid locking up the front brake by pressing it suddenly.
- Never use the front brake in a curve, especially on gravel. You are likely to lock up the front wheel, and go down.
Remembering these tips and frequently practicing rides in various conditions will help you stay on top of your game, become familiar with how your motorcycle reacts to the current condition, and increase your safety threshold.