Autumn is a fantastic time of year for motorcycle riders. There’s nothing like getting out on the asphalt and enjoying the dazzling colours of the changing leaves while you’re riding down the road. Many riders I know live for this time of year and always plan for one last big ride before parking and storing their bikes for the winter.
When you’re getting ready for a ride, put some thought and time into planning the trip, even if you’re going to be part of a group. Regardless of your level of experience there are things you need to be aware of to make sure your rides are as safe as possible.
Here are a few things every rider should keep in mind before heading out:
Give your bike a basic once over
While you’ve probably had your bike serviced and repaired as necessary all summer long, it’s always important to check your bike over every time before you take it out. Always test the lights, brakes, and turn signals. You should also check the cables to make sure they aren’t worn or frayed, and take a close look at your tires, wheels, and chain to ensure they are all in good condition and good working order.
Performing these checks can help keep you safe, and may prevent you from being left stranded and possibly exposed to additional costs for repairs.
Plan your ride
Riders should never leave home unless they have a destination planned, regardless if it’s a one hour ride or a two-day trip. This kind of planning may seem to take the fun or spontaneity out of the trip, but many unpredictable, unplanned things can happen on the road. Flat tires, mechanical breakdowns, or other complications can cause costly delays and ruin what otherwise would have been a great getaway.
Today, most of us carry a smart phone and have access to GPS devices that can help ensure someone can get a hold of us and knows where we are at all times. Just make sure your phone is fully charged before you head out! Riders don’t need to plan every detail of a trip, but the use of a GPS-enabled device comes in handy when the need arises to take a detour for gas or stop for a bite to eat. Just as important is the ability to communicate with fellow riders and your family at home. Knowing you can be reached will provide your loved ones with peace of mind in regards to your safety. All it takes to keep your family informed is a call or text during your stretch and fuel breaks.
Be Mindful of Weather and Road Conditions
Riders should always be sure to check the weather forecast before deciding to set out on a ride. The weather should always be a concern for motorcycle riders, and during autumn this takes on added significance as conditions can turn unexpectedly, leaving riders in difficult situations if they’re caught out on the roads in colder weather.
Riders should also be aware of what the road conditions are prior to going on a ride. Autumn can present unique challenges on the road. In some cases, road construction hasn’t wrapped up before the winter. As well, fallen leaves on roadways, combined with moisture or oil, can create slippery, treacherous hazards for unsuspecting riders.
Get your Gear Ready
Having an idea of what to expect in terms of weather and your destination will help you pack properly. I do a lot of motorcycle riding and always carry extra clothing with me so I’m prepared. I like to take along a couple different jackets, gloves, sun protection, and rain gear. If I’m going on a long trip where I know I will be doing highway speeds, I will take my leather pants or chaps as these help protect my legs from flying debris.
It should go without saying that once you’re out cruising, you should always respect the rules of the road, wear a helmet, keep safety top of mind, and have fun! Enjoy your bikes as much as you can before the season comes to a close.
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