As the seasons change in the Midwestern states, riders and drivers alike need to alter their road habits to remain safe. Ultimately, motorcycles will have to be put away for the extreme weather, but many individuals will want to continue riding well into the winter months. Here are five tips to keep you safe on the road.

  1. Layer the proper riding gear. As with any outdoor activity, layering clothing is essential to preparing for cold weather. It can be a bit more challenging for riders, though, as they need to both remain flexible and have a strong outer layer that can prevent injuries in the event of a crash.
  2. Prep your bike for winter riding. There are assorted accessories that can help a rider stay safe during the winter. From a windscreen and handguards to heated grips and adventure-style riding pegs, riders can take numerous steps to build a safer bike.
  3. Cold weather equals cold tires. Colder tires can equal a dramatic decrease in traction. Even though riding can warm up the tires, a brief stop in extreme weather can cool them back down again. Additionally, tire pressure can drastically change during bad weather.
  4. Be wary of road salt and black ice. Salt, sand, chemicals and gravel are typically dropped to help melt ice and improve traction on the roads. Unfortunately, this can also impair a motorcycle’s handling. Even the safest rider can succumb to dangerous environmental hazards.
  5. Increase visibility and following distance. Good advice for any adverse weather condition, riders braving the winter should be careful to follow other vehicles at a safe distance. Being forced to hit the brakes too hard might result in a slide, a skid or even laying the bike down on the road surface.

Of course, the caveat to all of these tips is to be aware of the upcoming weather patterns. While not a perfect source of information, checking the news on your phone or local television broadcast before deciding to ride or drive to work in the morning might prevent a hazardous trip home if it starts to snow, sleet or hail. With all the preparation possible, riding home through a storm of freezing rain or six inches of fresh snow is simply inviting disaster.