You may well have noticed that now the long nights are starting to draw in, the temperatures outside are starting to drop. That can only mean two things – one, that you’re in Britain, and two, that winter’s just around the corner. The British climate can throw up plenty of hazards for drivers and bikers even at the best of times, but even more so when the winter descends. However well you might think you know a particular road, it can become a different proposition entirely when there’s ice, snow and freezing temperatures about. It’s important, then, to make sure that you’re well prepared for the coming winter and that you know how to handle the trickier conditions it will bring.
Retaining control of your motorbike can often be a challenge when the roads are icy, but you’re not completely powerless. There are a few things you should bear in mind which can stand you in reasonably good stead should conditions prove somewhat inclement. Firstly, you should take care to avoid slippery spots wherever you can. It goes without saying that some slippery patches will creep up on you unnoticed – black ice is a particularly dangerous problem for motorbikers – but make sure you try to stick to the driest patch of the road you can find.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when the roads are icy or wet is to keep a close eye on your speedometer. Reduce your speed and you’ll find you have more time to react to any hazards which may appear. After all, it only takes an ill-judged or ill-timed lane change to result in a serious accident, and these risks are heightened when driving conditions are poor. You need to remember that speed limits are there for a reason – however tempting it may be to bomb around the roads. What’s more, you shouldn’t feel the need to treat speed limits as a target. Only go as fast as you’re comfortable with, and don’t be pressured by other road users.
You also need to think about how and when you’re using both the front and the rear brake. While the front brake is more effective than the rear, you should try to avoid using the former on very slippery surfaces as this could cause you to come off your bike. If you can, try to squeeze the clutch and find a safe spot to gradually coast towards. It’s sometimes difficult to be as calm as you’d like to be when you’re out and about on the roads, but holding your nerve can make a big difference.
In addition, you should try to ensure that your turning, braking, acceleration and gear changes are as careful as possible. If you feel yourself passing through a slippery patch of ice, don’t panic – try to do as little as possible until you know you’re safely through it. Of course, you should also take care to check the weather reports and traffic updates before you travel. If you know the roads are likely to be particularly bad, you might be better off finding an alternative mode of transport or simply staying at home if at all possible.
This guest blog was contributed by Lesley Sampson a freelance writer who is mad keen on motorbikes and who wants to help you avoid a nasty motorbike accident this winter.