Autumn hazards for bikers
Autumn is a tricky time of the year for motorcycle riders because the weather is even less predictable than any other season.
Most days start dark and freezing cold, making your warm weather gear the obvious choice, but roll on three hours and the sun’s cracking the flags.
But it’s not just a nightmare for gear and clothing, it’s also a difficult time of year for bikers because of some hazards and distractions that are unique to Autumn riding.
1. Cold roads and ice
Autumn nights get cold and sometimes frosty, which means a loss of traction.
While ice can be dealt with when it’s expected, an issue with autumn is that sometimes the sun can con you into thinking it’s warmer than it is.
It might be bright when you get outside and on to your bike but it doesn’t mean the tarmac has warmed up and frost has disappeared.
Assess conditions before you get moving and as a general rule of thumb, expect ice on the ground and ride cautiously until you’re confident it’s disappeared.
2. Cold tyres
Tyres have an optimal temperature where they perform at their best.
Generally, the colder a tyre is, the harder the rubber is, and the harder the rubber, the less traction tyres have.
You should wait for your tyres to get up to temperature before accelerating fast and braking hard.
3. Changeable weather
Changeable weather is a pain for riders because it often leads to improper clothing.
And if you’re not dressed for conditions, you can easily become distracted, which is not good news for a biker.
But it also means that road conditions can change quickly too; whether it’s a sudden downpour, a drop in temperature or the sun rearing its head, each change of weather brings with it different challenges for riders.
4. Falling leaves
Autumn’s a stunning month, not least because the leaves on trees change colour but because they fall as well.
It looks lovely but leaves on the road can cover hazards like potholes while wet leaves can also reduce traction; avoid where possible and ride over carefully where you can’t.
5. Low sun
The sun gets lower in the sky in autumn, which means there can be lots of glare in riders’ eyes, especially if the road surface is wet and shiny.
6. Darker days
If you ride for a decent length of time throughout autumn, you’re going to have to ride in the dark as the days get shorter.
For riders that means you need to be prepared to ride in the dark and wear gear that can be seen by other motorists.
High-visibility and reflective gear can be a lifesaver when it comes to riding in the dark.
So what’s the solution?
While none of the hazards are hugely dangerous for riders, they can definitely get you into trouble on the road, so what’s the solution?
For most of the issues, preparation is the key.
Check weather forecasts and sunset times, ride carefully until you’re confident you know what the road conditions are and if things get a little too difficult when you’re out on the road, be prepared to pull over and wait for conditions to improve.
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