Autumn is arguably the most beautiful time of year, even if the cold isn’t your cup of tea. That can be a blessing and a curse when it comes to motorcycle travel. Colorful foliage makes for wonderful scenery while spreading debris all over the road. The fall season shouldn’t stop you from riding, but it should change how you ride. Use these autumn motorcycle riding tips to squeeze more trips into the year before the cold sets in.
Bundle Up for Changing Temperatures
The weather can be anything but predictable. Warm summer days can intersect with the first signs of winter, making it hard to dress for the occasion. Prepare for the high and low for the day by adding or removing layers based on your comfort level. If you overdress, your body will overheat, leaving you drenched in sweat. Start with a moisture-wicking inner layer made of wool or synthetic materials that will dry quickly when wet. Add thermals and a waterproof outer layer in case of an unexpected rainstorm.
A full-face helmet will shield your face from the wind, rain and flying debris. If you’ve been meaning to upgrade your safety equipment, now’s the time.
Finding the right combination is often a series of trial and error. Your body will gradually get warmer as your heart rate increases, but the wind chill will make it feel colder in the moment. If the temperature drops below 32 degrees F, find another mode of transportation to avoid slipping on the ice.
Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Roadkill, branches and other hazards tend to become more common in the fall, some of which may be buried in leaves. Rain can fill potholes to the brim, blending in with the rest of the concrete. Stay away from areas where you can’t see the ground to avoid running into surprises. Use motorcycle hand signals to point out these obstacles to other riders.
Driving on wet leaves can be just as dangerous as riding on the ice. The water sticks to the leaves on the road, creating a slick surface. Your wheels will get less traction, which makes it harder to stop and turn. Reduce your speed and try not to make any sudden movements. Give yourself plenty of room to navigate around obstacles in the road.
Using your hands to signal to the other members of your group means taking your hands off the handlebars. This might not be an issue when the road is flat and dry, but you might not be able to see where you’re riding when there are so many leaves on the ground. Use motorcycle helmet communication to talk wirelessly with the other riders in your group. The headset connects automatically to every rider in the group when in range. You can access all the features of your GPS or phone without lifting a finger.
Your headset should clue you into what’s happening around you. Find quality motorcycle helmet speakers with automatic volume control to listen to the traffic while communicating or listening to music. Everyone in the group can do their part to look out for potential hazards far in advance. The leader will set the speed and direction of the route to show the safest way forward. If anyone is falling behind or needs to stop and rest, all they have to do is speak up.
Watch for Deer and Wildlife
Animals are harder to spot in the fall because they blend in with all the scenery. Squirrels, deer, moose, foxes and other mammals will need to cross the road from time to time, so be sure to give them the right of way. Reduce your speed in overly remote areas and those with wildlife crossing signs. If you spot an animal in the road, swerving can cause it to run directly into your path while increasing your chance of a collision. Come to a complete stop and allow it to pass. Deer are most active between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., which is when most of us commute to work.
Fall also happens to coincide with hunting season. People draped in camouflage are naturally hard to see, which can lead to an accident if you’re not paying attention. Hunters shouldn’t shoot at or near active roadways, but stranger things have happened. The days are also getting shorter with less light in the sky. Make your presence known on the road by wearing high-visibility clothing. You can put reflective tape on your helmet or jacket for a quick fix or pop a bright vest or jacket over your outfit.
Experience Autumn Adventures on Your Motorcycle
Autumn motorcycle riding is all the more enjoyable when you use the right equipment. Coordinate with your companions to avoid any unforeseen obstacles and time your trip so you avoid the wettest and busiest times of the day. Put a little more thought into each ride during the last few months of the year to get to your destination safe and sound.