Summer has arrived! Warm sunny days, long light evenings – the hours available to spend on your motorbike are endless. But before you take to the road, check your motorbike is in top condition.
This summer riding checklist will make sure you and your bike are ready for an endless summer of safe riding.
When was the last time you took your motorbike out for a spin? Whether it was days or months ago, make sure you give it a thorough maintenance check before hopping back in the saddle.
* Begin with the oil, and then check tyre pressure and condition.
* Make sure your tax is up to date and that your motorbike insurance hasn’t expired.
* If your bike isn’t air-cooled, check the coolant – is it topped up with the correct mixture? Anti-freeze is useful all year as it helps preserve alloy engines from internal corrosion.
Are you in top shape to ride?
You never forget how to ride a bike – right? That may be the case, but it’s important to get used to being on the bike again.
* Take it slow and steady at first – speed amplifies mistakes.
* Practise braking on a quiet bit of road until you’re happy with emergency stops.
* Refresh your counter-steering on some gentle, open bends.
* Be patient and extra cautious with overtaking until you’ve settled back into your normal riding rhythm.
When you’re out riding in the heat, stop frequently to give your body a rest. You’ll dehydrate through sweat, usually without noticing, which can cause you to lose concentration. Make sure you drink lots of fluids – a lapse in concentration can put both you, and others, in danger.
What to wear
Clothing: Whether you ride in leathers or not, you’re going to get hot, especially if you get stuck in town traffic.
You may be tempted just to head out in jeans and a T-shirt, but the consequences of even a minor spill can be nasty. Always wear gloves – the palms of your hands are usually the first thing to hit the ground – and the full complement of protective clothing. Several manufacturers make lightweight protective jackets and trousers specifically for hot climates.
Helmet: Wearing a helmet in summer is hot work, but riding without one is not an option as it’s, of course, compulsory. You can open all the vents but you’ll just have to put up with the noise that produces. Summer also brings fly-encrusted visors, so pack a small bottle of cleaner and a cloth for some roadside debugging.
Tip: The sun’s glare might tempt you to fit an illegal dark visor on your helmet, but doings so could invalidate your motorbike insurance if you have an accident.
Watch out for hazards
Just because it’s sunny doesn’t mean the roads are hazard-free. Blazing days often produce slippery pools of melting road tar on roundabouts and bends. A brief shower of rain after a prolonged dry spell can also turn roads into skating rinks as rubber and oil in the road surface can rise to lie on top of the water.
And don’t forget, strong sunshine can blind oncoming traffic so don’t assume drivers have seen you as you pull out to overtake, or when they look like turning across your path.