Winter motorcycle riding presents its fair share of dangers, but with the right kit, a little common sense, and some minor changes to your riding style, you can carry on riding safely through all but the worst of the winter weather. Severn Freewheelers, the local branch of the Nationwide Association of Bloodbikes have put together a bit of advice to keep you safe on the roads this winter.
Motorcycle Kit: Riding in the correct kit is not just a comfort issue, if you're wet and cold; you will tire more easily and will not be as responsive to events around you.
Keep Warm: Specialist winter riding gear will make a massive difference to your warmth and comfort. However we always recommend layering up so that you can adapt to the changing weather.
Gloves: Make sure you invest in a pair of quality thermally insulated waterproof gloves to keep your hands warm and dry. Its handy (excuse the pun!) to keep a spare pair of inner gloves on you, which you can change if they get wet.
Visibility: With these dark mornings and early evenings you are even less visible to others. Motorists often struggle to see bikes at the best of times and are less likely to see you when their windows are misted up. Pedestrians are hazardous too, often walking out in front of you as they bow their heads to protect from the rain. Make sure you are seen, wear reflective clothing and use reflective stickers on your bike.
Respect the Road: Winter conditions are physically and mentally challenging for bike riders, and require far more care and concentration. Aside from the physical demands on your body with the wind, rain and ice, you need to respect your bike and the road.
Increase the breaking distance between you and other vehicles to account for wet and greasy road conditions. By increasing the distance you will get minimal spray off other vehicles and will be able to judge and anticipate other road users driving much easier. Watch out for wet leaves and carrier bags too.
Always use your lane, give yourself plenty of time and space to adapt and react to situations around you but most of all - slow down and increase your breaking distance.
Vision: Bad weather such as fog or even low winter sun can restrict your view. Be aware of the hazards and ride to suit the road conditions.
Signal Earlier: Signal earlier to give as much notice as possible to other road users of your intentions, cancel your indicators after manoeuvre.
Take Breaks: If you are riding long distance you need to keep alert. Always plan ahead, make time to have a comfort stop to give your eyes a rest, keep rehydrated, and warm along the way, and always carry your mobile phone and an in case of emergency contact.
Lights: Check your lights regularly to make sure they are working. Also ensure your lights are visible and clear of dirt.
Tyres: Check your tyre pressures are correct
Mirrors: In winter months, use anti-misting spray on your visor and mirrors.
Hearing Protection: As motorcyclists you are subject to many different noises. Not just traffic and engine noises, but the rush of wind and the high pitch wail as it passes through the tiny gap in your visor or top vent. If you ride for any length of time without hearing protection you will suffer irreversible hearing damage. Invest in some good quality hearing protectors. We like the ones that eliminate the wind and road noise but allows conversation, sirens and horns without the muffling effect.
If you love motorbikes, why not buy tickets to Prescott Bike Festival, the event is taking place on Sunday 6th April 2014 at Prescott Hill Climb, Gotherington, Cheltenham with all proceeds raised supporting the Nationwide Association of Bloodbikes charity (NABB). The fourth annual event will be larger than ever before, with even more bike manufacturers and clubs confirmed, plus a large display of historic, modern and race bikes on display in the paddock, demo areas, passenger rides, stunt show, trade stalls, live music, good food and a host of entertainment both on and off the track to keep the whole family amused. Special guest appearances include: former three times British Superbike Champion and Bloodbike ambassador John Reynolds, MotoGP commentator Steve Parrish and motorcycle adventurer Nick Sanders. For more information or to purchase advance tickets, please visit: http://www.prescottbikefestival.co.uk
The Nationwide Association of Blood Bikes is the umbrella organisation representing 24 regional blood bike charities covering 95 per cent of the UK and Ireland. Some groups, such as the Yeovil Freewheelers, have been operating for more than 30 years. Last year, thanks partly to the publicity gained when Blood Bikes was featured on the Channel 5 series Emergency Bikers, new groups were formed and coverage of the UK & Ireland is 95% complete.
The blood bike groups provide a motorcycle based, free delivery service to the NHS; moving vital medical supplies, blood and pathology samples from medical centres and hospitals throughout the UK. NABB member groups are closely involved in the transport of frozen human milk from the donor to the milk processing banks. This has been a real lifesaver due to the necessity of very premature babies having intolerance to anything but human milk.
Run entirely by volunteers, NABB has over 1500 active members with a fleet of 88+ emergency response vehicles. All NABB riders are trained in the movement of medical essentials and operate from individual regional charities but with a common goal - to alleviate suffering and reduce the funding pressures on the NHS.
Severn Freewheelers is the regional Blood Bike group operating in Gloucestershire, Hereford & Worcester and North Wiltshire. Over 80 volunteers help Severn Freewheelers carry out a much-needed service. Severn Freewheelers runs three BMW R1200RTs, two Honda ST1300 and a Honda VFR1200, all are emergency response equipped and the members handle some 4,000 call outs per annum, covering 150,000 miles.
Source: apt marketing & pr