Along with baby birds and flowers in bloom, motorcycle riders taking to the road is one of the first signs of spring. If you're a new rider or are just out of practice, spring may be the perfect season to get out your bike and on the road.
However, spring motorcycle travel also comes with a set of challenges unique to the season. In this blog, we list six crucial guidelines to help you stay safe and comfortable on your first ride this spring and on many rides to come before summer arrives.
- Bring Seasonal Equipment Along
While spring weather offers plenty of sunshine and blue skies, you could also ride into surprise rain showers. Your normal riding ensemble may not be able to protect you from large amounts of precipitation.
When you go out on your motorcycle in the spring, bring a small kit of seasonal gear. Your kit should include a lightweight waterproof jacket for you and a poncho for your passenger if you often ride with a friend.
- Inspect and Clean Your Bike
If you're taking your first spring ride on a motorcycle that you already have, chances are that you haven't used the bike for the past several months. Over the winter, dust and debris can build up on a motorcycle and cause mechanical problems. You may also notice issues like flat tires.
Wash and wax your bike so that it's ready to ride. As you work, look for any changes to the structure of the bike, like loose components. You should also top off the tires and fluids, test the engine, and check that the lights work properly.
If you have any doubts about the function of your motorcycle, take it in to a mechanic before going on your first ride of the season. This checkup is particularly important if you notice any fluid leaks that you cannot identify, since leaking brake fluid or motor oil can lead to sudden mechanical failures while you are riding.
- Make Yourself More Visible
As a motorcycle rider, you know how important it is to make yourself and your bike more visible to passing cars. Many accidents involving motorcycles occur simply because a car driver doesn’t see the bike.
In the spring, the risk of such accidents is higher because drivers don't expect to see motorcycles out yet. You may want to install reflectors on your bike to make it more visible. Additionally, you should wear at least one brightly colored clothing item.
As you ride, use your lights and your horn when necessary to make drivers notice your presence.
- Ride During Daylight Hours
During your first few springtime rides, stick to the daylight hours, especially if you are an inexperienced or uncertain rider. Many common springtime hazards become more pronounced at dusk and during the night.
For example, you should expect to encounter deer, rabbits, geese, and other animals on roads that are near wooded areas or bodies of water. At night, these animals go out to forage for food and may cross roads in the process.
You may also have difficulty safely navigating roads that are wet or are in poor condition once the sun goes down. If you're taking a multi-day trip, consider camping out or checking into a hotel before it gets dark.
- Stay Aware of Road Conditions
Winter weather can ravage the roads, and most municipal construction projects are not completed until the summer. These circumstances make spring roads some of the most dangerous you may encounter on your motorcycle.
The harsh salts used to clear snowy roads encourage potholes while spring rain obscures the depth and extent of road damage. Additionally, debris like gravel can reduce your tires' traction on the pavement and cause skidding.
Avoid potholes and crumbling pavement whenever possible as you ride, since you cannot tell the exact condition of the pavement until you ride over it. You should also plan your routes to avoid active construction areas as often as possible.
- Wear Layered Clothing
The right clothing is essential for comfortable riding. During the spring, you will likely need to bulk up your motorcycle riding gear wardrobe in order to properly accommodate the weather changes.
Many springtime riders prefer to layer up in order to give themselves more options. At rest stops and gas stations, it will likely be too warm for your winter gear. However, you will want the warmth when riding in high winds or rain. Even in perfect weather, the wind can begin to feel cold and biting when you ride at highway speeds.
As always, your layers should be topped off by appropriate safety equipment, including boots, gloves, and a well-fitted helmet to reduce the risk of injury in a potential accident.
Use these guidelines to maximize the riding you can do during the temperate, inviting spring weather this year.