Summer Riding Tips
Summertime is the prime riding season for motorcyclists, and there’s no better way to spend your afternoon or weekend than cruising along that open road and soaking up the sun. For some, summer riding is all about taking a more extended vacation and going on a bike trip. The summer season offers fantastic weather and longer days, yet it comes with a few pitfalls you should be aware of. Whether you’re out for a few hours or a few weeks, here are some things to be aware of.
Staying hydrated while riding your motorcycle is important all year round, but during the summer months, it’s essential. Dehydration can cause fatigue and reduced concentration, hindering your ability to stay sharp and handle the motorcycle well. In more severe cases, dehydration can cause health issues ranging from dizziness and headaches to exhaustion and heat strokes.
To make sure you stay hydrated while riding, carry a hydration pack and sip water throughout your ride. Fill your water bladder with ice, so the water stays cool and fresh all day long – you can top the ice off at most gas stations and rest stops. If you don’t carry a hydration pack, stop every hour or so and drink some water. Try to avoid drinks like coffee, sodas, and energy drinks as they can cause dehydration and sugar crash leaving you feeling tired and therefore less alert in the long run.
Wearing your safety apparel while riding is important regardless of the weather. In the summertime, however, wear gear that is made from breathable materials such as mesh and make sure it has plenty of vents. Choose gloves with abrasion-resistant mesh and lighter summer boots for better comfort. A helmet with lots of ventilation can also help. To absorb perspiration and keep your body cool, consider wearing a base layer. If you are riding under extreme heat wearing a cooling vest or soaking your base layer in cold water before heading out are additional ways to beat the heat.
Just like your body needs to keep cool during the hot summer months, so does your motorcycle. Make sure all your fluids (brake fluids, motor oil, engine coolant) are topped off and your radiator fins are clean from dirt, bugs, or road grime. Before you go for a ride, check your tire pressure. If your tire pressure is very low, summer heat and humidity can exacerbate ill tire performance because the road surface might be hotter, affecting the rubber in your tires. Change your tires if the tread is wearing too thin as extreme heat and humidity can strip the tires faster than in colder weather conditions.
Consider getting a tinted visor or wearing your sunglasses when you’re out riding on a sunny day. The intense sun can seriously impair your visibility, so make sure your eyes are well-protected. Be extra careful when cresting hills or cornering, especially if you are heading westward in the evening because a sudden sun glare can temporarily blind you. Be cautious on backcountry roads and riding through National Parks as animals are more active in the summer and might wander into the road.
To enjoy your summer riding, don’t forget to take regular breaks to cool off and to walk around and refresh yourself. In extreme heat stop more regularly, especially at gas stations and the like to spend a few minutes in air conditioning to give your body a little time to recover from the heat. It’s not widely known, but heat and humidity have a cumulative effect, so give yourself a break once in a while in order to get back on the bike with renewed energy.
What are your favorite summer riding tips and hacks? Let us know in the comments below!