Spring is officially here, and that means the actual warmer weather may be coming next. Motorcycle enthusiasts may be gearing up with excitement, but it’s important to keep safety in mind.
The following are some things to know if you’re a motorcycle rider gearing up for the warm weather seasons.
You have to be safe when you’re on a motorcycle at all times.
When everyone is ready to hit the road again after a long and cold winter, it can be especially tempting to cut corners on safety, but that can be a deadly mistake.
According to statistics cited by Boohoff Law, 30% of all non-fatal motorcycle accident injuries affect the lower extremities. Twenty-two percent of all non-fatal injuries involve the head and neck. After that, the most common injuries involve the shoulders, back, and chest.
Motorcycle riders are more prone to injuries for fairly understandable and apparent reasons—motorcycles are open with limited protection. They are easy to maneuver, and they have a sense of agility, but they just don’t have the weight and protection of other types of vehicles.
You have to think about the many features of a traditional vehicle not found on a motorcycle including not just the heavier weight, roofs, and doors but also seatbelts, airbags and four wheels that promote stability.
For motorcycle riders, the best thing to do is to protect yourself with your gear. This includes not only making sure you’re wearing an approved and appropriate helmet at all times but also gloves and protective clothing.
Your helmet should be approved by the Department of Transportation, and it should be hooked properly. Be aware the helmets can wear out as well. You want to make sure your helmet is in good condition and the recommendation is that you replace it every three-to-five years.
Since spring hasn’t all the way sprung yet, it could still be a good time to take a safety course.
Motorcycle safety courses are a good idea for all riders, even if you’re experienced.
You can usually find motorcycle safety courses that are spread over a few days, with instruction time that’s 15 to 20 hours in total. You’ll learn everything you need to know about rider safety.
A lot of motorcycle safety courses will integrate skill training with hands-on experience.
If you don’t already have your motorcycle license, most states require that you take a safety course first.
If nothing else, you should do a defensive driving course online. One of the biggest reasons for many motorcycle accidents is because other drivers say they couldn’t see the motorcycle. Defensive driving courses can help you.
Some of the things you might learn include to leave your headlights on all the time, use your signals, and honk your horn if a car is approaching you going very fast. Never drive in the blind spot of vehicles and wear clothing that’s brightly colored.
Getting Your Bike Ready
You want to get your bike ready for spring as well. For example, check out your tires. How do they look, and could you use a new set?
Take your motorcycle on a few short rides if it’s been stored in your garage all winter.
Other tips to get your bike ready for spring include:
- Make sure a small animal hasn’t made a home in your intake or exhaust system. You also need to check for debris.
- If your fuel tank still has old fuel, you need to drain it. If you drain it and see brown grit in it, it could indicate that your fuel tank is rusted. If so, you can flush it with acid remover to make sure your fuel system functions properly.
- Even once you drain your tank, there might still be old gas and ethanol left in there, and if that’s the case, you can add fuel stabilizer to the tank.
- Do an oil change, even if you did one before you stored your bike for winter. During winter, the oil can have condensation build-up.
- Check the levels of all your fluids, including your brake fuel and your hydraulic fuel.
Did you leave your battery on during the winter? If so, plan to replace it or charge it.
- Check your electrical system including headlights, rear brake lights, your horn, and your turn signals.
- Clean your headlights to make sure they’re bright enough.
- How are your steering, clutch, and throttle working?
- If your bike doesn’t have a drive belt, clean your chain and lubricate it.
Be Cautious of Spring Weather
While the weather can be beautiful in spring, it can also be hazardous for motorcycle riders.
First, there is a lot of variation in spring weather, and things can change quickly, so check not only reports but also radars before you head out.
There’s a lot of rain in spring that can make roadways slippery and can make already tricky corners even more dangerous.
If you’re riding at night, the wet roads can also make glares that create a more challenging situation for vehicle drivers, so they may be less likely to see you.
Be aware of all these weather-related risks.
Regardless of the time of year, you also have to think about the condition of the roadways you’re going to be on. For example, things that are minor to vehicles like puddles and potholes can be a huge risk for you if you’re on a motorcycle.
You need to always keep your eyes on the road because if you hit a pothole, as an example, you could spin out of control.
Finally, you need to take it slow as you hit the roads after winter. Let yourself get acclimated to being on your motorcycle again and build up your time on the bike. This helps you get reacclimated to being on the bike in general, and your environment.
Spring is a great time to be on your motorcycle as long as you’re aware of the risks and you take the necessary steps to avoid them.