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Winter motorcycle riding tips

13th December 2010 Print

Express Insurance is urging motorcyclists that decide to ride on throughout winter, to be fully prepared for the tough conditions that the next few months will throw at them.

The latest statistics from the Department for Transport show that 1,299 motorcyclists were killed or seriously injured during the months of December 2008 to March 2009, traditionally one of the coldest periods of the year and one where road conditions are far from their best.

Despite the risks of riding on Britain’s roads during the winter months some motorcyclists still brave the elements due to the unique advantages that two-wheeled transport provides.

Express Insurance provides the following tips for riding safely during the winter months:

Keep to the regular maintenance schedule for your motorcycle as shown in the manufacturer’s handbook as a bare minimum

In winter, road salt will attach to exposed metal, bolts and brake calipers, and could seriously degrade your machine’s braking capability, so clean your bike regularly, and strip and clean brake calipers more often than during summer months.  If your machine is ABS-equipped ensure that this is fully operational

If your machine is chain driven, ensure that this is tensioned correctly and properly lubricated

Change to winter tyres. All tyre manufacturers produce tyres more suited to cold conditions, with compounds that heat up quicker in lower temperatures. Ensure that you consult the tyre manufacturers’ guidelines as to tyre pressures.

Dress appropriately for the winter and ‘layer’ yourself correctly. You will need a windproof layer and a waterproof layer and it’s wise to invest in a quality under-suit or base layer that is comfortable and insulates you from the cold. Wear the best quality top layers you can, with CE-approved protection and make sure all kit – boots, jacket, trousers and gloves fit well so you are comfortable on the bike

Be heated: many manufacturers now sell inexpensive electric garments that can be wired directly to your machine that keep you warm. Mix these garments with heated grips, windscreens and knuckle guards or bar muffs that keep the wind off your hands and feet as it is these that control the bike

See and be seen – wear a high-visibility vest or a jacket with reflective patches on it. Ensure your visor is clean and is fitted with a de-misting insert or chemical treatment. Pack a spare, darker visor if your commute means you ride into the low winter sun. Keep head and tail-light lenses clean and free from dirt so you are seen by other road users

Invest in better riding courses both on and off-road during the biking year. Off-road riding helps machine control and this increases rider confidence

Tony Way, managing director of Express Insurance says: “We all love bikes and the advantages they bring, especially the way they can carve through traffic and lower commute times to work, but safety is paramount and following these riding tips can help you through the winter on two wheels in greater safety and comfort.”

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