As the summer riding season approaches, more motorcycles will be seen on roads throughout the US. Even in warm-weather states like Florida, many riders store their motorcycles or ride more frequently in the spring and summer seasons.
With more daylight, good visibility for riding extends late into the evening in the summer. However, visibility is reduced drastically at dusk and the summer season also brings consistent, heavy rains on a near-daily basis. As motorcyclists in Florida and across the US warm up for another summer riding season, being prepared and freshening up on a few key pointers for night and wet weather riding can help riders stay safe and avoid accidents.
Enhancing the Rider’s Nighttime Visibility
The majority of motorcycle accident fatalities occur after nightfall. Rider’s should place strong emphasis on increasing road presence and visibility whenever operating a motorcycle at night. Safe night riding relies heavily on maximized visibility for both the rider and other motorists. Below are some tips that can help motorcyclists ensure safe riding.
- Reflective Clothing – Consider purchasing motorcycle helmets and jackets equipped with reflective paint or reflective panels. Even some darkly colored jackets are equipped with subtle, yet highly visible reflective seams and trim. Consider wearing a reflective belt or vest when riding at night. Reflective stickers and tape can also be applied to helmets and parts of a motorcycle.
- Check and Upgrade Motorcycle Lighting – Make sure all lights and signals are functioning before hitting the road, especially at night time. A modulating headlamp is noticeably more visible than a standard lamp. Consider installing auxiliary lighting or running lamps in addition to originally equipped lights. LEDs are also becoming more popular over conventional incandescent bulbs. Some newer motorcycles come equipped with full LED-panel tail lamps and turn signals. After-market LED bulbs can also be purchased to replace standard bulbs. LEDs last up to ten times longer than incandescent bulbs, emit 40-50% more intensity, use less voltage and do not generate heat. Replacing a motorcycle’s OEM bulbs with LEDs can help increase the visibility of brake lights and turn signals.
Exercising Caution in Rainy Conditions
Traction becomes significantly reduced when riding a motorcycle during or just after a rain. Always make sure your PSI levels are kept at manufacturer specifications. Vehicles deposit oil, brake fluid, fuel and other residues on the road over time. When the rain commences, fluid residues and deposits are lifted and create slick areas on the road. Traction in these areas at the beginning of a rain shower can be similar to encountering a sheet of black ice.
- Maintain Proper Tire Pressure – Routinely check air pressure with a tire gauge, especially if the bike has been sitting for more than a few days. Slightly underinflated tires can drastically reduce a rider’s ability to brake and corner and can spell disaster in wet conditions.
- Maneuver and Throttle Cautiously – Cornering, braking, acceleration, and adjusting road positions require extra time and distance in wet conditions. A rider steers by leaning into a turn, using a part of the tire with less tread pattern. Slightly too much throttle on a wet road can cause a tire to be pushed sideways leading to loss of traction and a very fast lay-down or high-tail crash.
- Take a Break and Wait the Rain Out – An even safer wet weather strategy is to pull over for gas or a coffee if it begins to rain. At minimum, wait until several minutes of steady rain have passed to help wash away the road’s residue deposits. If pulling over is not an option slow down substantially during the start of any rain shower. Go slow and easy on the throttle and proceed very gently through turns – it’s a safe bet to ride your bike as if trying to maintain control on snow or ice.
Open Road Journey