Tag Archive: riding

Well riding season is now upon us. Time to remove the cover, polish up the chrome and check the levels. Riding during the spring has its advantages, along with some disadvantages. The temperature generally falls above the 60 degree mark; the sun is warming; there are more bikers on the road; and people may be looking for you.  On the other hand a disadvantage would be the unpredictable nature of weather. We are all fully aware that the weather men have a little difficulty accurately predicting the weather to some degree. Overall, they do a decent job and generally run close to what the actually weather. As a rider, you’re hoping for more accuracy in the prediction verses guessing. You don’t want to be riding on the highway when a heavy shower decides to break loose. If you’ve been riding for any time at all, then you’ve at one time or another been caught in a mid-day shower that forced you to hide underneath a bridge or just suck it up and ride out the weather. In either case, you would like to avoid those as much as possible. Unless you are going to school to become a meteorologist, then you are forced to gather your information from their prediction….or are you? I say nah, nah. Similar to what pilots do, you can gather as much information about the current weather patterns and make assumptions based on that information. There are plenty of web sites and resources available, many for free, that you can use to help you make the best riding decision you can.

In the past, I would look at one or two weather reports and if the chance for precipitation was 30% or lower, I would ride, anything higher would keep my bike parked in the garage. Today was one of those days that caught me off. Instead of doing my own research, I relied on the weather from TV and since the chance of rain was lower then 30%, it was 20%, I decided today was a decent day to ride. Well about 30 minutes into my drive to work, it started to rain. Not a hard blinding rain, but enough to be a pain in the butt. I pulled over, donned my balaclava and headed back out on the road. Fortunately, it was a light rain, but still enough to generate spray from cars in front of me, and slow traffic to a crawl. Never again, I will take a few minutes from my morning, and gather as much information before I make the decision to pull the bike out. You should do the same, unless you don’t care what the weather will do. Just to share, I’ve included a couple of site I prefer while gathering my information.

Weather Channel: http://www.weather.com/

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: http://www.noaa.gov/wx.html

Forecast: http://forecast.io/#/f/39.1619,-77.2793

AOPA: (Must be a member) http://www.aopa.org/

I take the day’s outlook with a grain of salt, and pull in as much raw data to make my own weather prediction. There are enough maps, animation, and advisories that should help you narrow down your conclusion. Understanding what you are viewing and being able to translate that into a clear picture of the weather prediction won’t come all at once. It may take a few days to get a feel for what you are doing, so don’t give up the first time it looks challenging, remember you doing this to make sure you stay dry and enjoy your ride completely.

Well, that’s all I have to say. As always, ride safe and see you on the road.


With my new bike, I have decided to try riding in more than fair weather, as most of my friends only ride.  The main reason is because the summer riding season felt so short this year, partially because the weather wasn’t completely cooperative, so I am going to extend it.  With my softtail, I wouldn’t have attempted anything like this.  Not sure why, I guess I didn’t have the warm and fuzzy about inclement weather as I do with my new bike.  Or maybe it is because of the grip heaters, providing the incentive to go the extra mile.  What ever it is, I can looking into ways to extend my riding season.

First, I have set some ground rules.  I will NOT ride in snow.  Oh hell no!!  If I can slip in a 4×4 truck in snow, then I know two wheels aren’t enough to stop me from going down during our snow days.  The next rule is I will not ride in thunderstorms.  Unless I can caught away from home, I don’t see this as being a problem.  I usually check the weather before I leave my house, and if thunderstorms are on the predictive list, then I’ll pass the garage and head to the truck.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to use grip heaters, it does make a world of difference.  Keeping your hand toasty warm throughout your ride, which rides up past your wrist, makes the ride a lot more enjoyable, and this is the only reason any of us actually ride motorcycles,   we enjoy it.  My grip heaters have six settings, but I haven’t been able to make it past three.  Those things get hot.  Of course, I have my polypros, chaps, and leather jacket (with a sweatshirt) to help insulate me.  These are totally worth the purchase.  However, I recently purchased something new.  Running to the hundred dollar store,  I found a heated liner.  These come in a couple of different styles, such as sleeveless or full sleeves or battery operated and wired.

Keeping your core warm can make all the difference when riding.  When you aren’t shaking and stiff while riding will keep you maneuverable and focused on what is around you.  You never want to be too stiff to react to something that is happening in front of you.  Sweatshirts and leather jackets can keep you warm, but they cannot provide additional heat to maintain your core temperature, this is where a liner is needed.  If I worked on a construction site and would be outdoors for some time, I can see getting a battery powered sleeveless vest.  They work for approximately eight hours with a single charge.  Since I won’t use mine unless I am riding, I decided to go with the full sleeves and wired in to the bike. It took only a couple of minutes to attached the wired to the battery and I was ready to do.  I confirmed that adding it didn’t affect my warranty on my bike.

I waited until the first fall morning (50 degrees) and I tried it out.  If you’ve ridden before in the cold, you know that the temperature you feel while riding is about 10 degrees cooler than the ambient temperature.  50 degrees feels more like 40 degrees, and maybe 35 in some areas depending on the landscape.  I had my polypros on, chaps, sweatshirt, liner and a leather jacket.  I even decided to run with the full face helmet just for added protected.  I couldn’t believe how warm I was the entire ride.  It maintained my core temperature at a nice 100 degrees (you know I like hot).  It was a great ride in.  With the version of heated vest that I purchased, you can  purchase additional items for the entire body.  From heated gloves, to heated chaps and socks all connected through a single source.  I am so impressed with the company, and will probably buy the heated chaps and maybe some battery operated socks.  With all the gear on and running, I know I will be comfortable in temperatures near freezing, which extends my riding welling to the fall and winter.

To contend with the east coast constant bombardment of wet weather, I decided to stop avoiding riding when the ground is a little wet.  The bike is made to deal with being wet, so should I.  Of course, like I mentioned above, I won’t do thunderstorms or try to avoid heavy downpours, but over all rain isn’t that much to deal with if you are properly outfitted with the gear.

Today is has been a moderate rain fall, and a perfect opportunity for me to test some of my wet weather gear.  I don’t plan on riding cross country on a regular basis, so I don’t need the top of the line rain suit, although if you have the money, I would get it.  I previously purchased some Frogg Toggs while on another trip and haven’t had a real chance to try them out.  Since it was raining pretty good and a chance of a downpour or two, I decided to completely protect myself.  I put on my chaps, Frogg Toggs, my fire department jacket (water resistant), and my riding boots.  My office is about 33 miles from my house, so I knew I would be in it for a while.  If you’ve had to deal with Maryland/Virginia traffic, they have a tendency to drive like there is 3 feet of snow on the ground regardless of how much it is raining, today was no exception.  It is also common that someone will have trouble driving from point A to point B without hitting something.

I would like to say that the control of the Ultra Glide Classic Limited bike was phenomenal.  It handles great in the weather, and the ABS provides a little more comfort when you have to break.  After making it all the way to work, and after the surprised looks I got from my coworkers, I get a once over to see what issues I had.  The first I had to deal with was the fogging of my facemask.  Yes, I decided to go with the fullface because raindrops hurt.  So I need to work out a method to antifog my faceshield.  The next was the Frogg Toggs was good except at areas that might hold standing water, like the seat, so my butt got a little wet.  My boots were never waterproofed, but they didn’t get too wet because of the guards on the bike, however, I would like to get some waterproofing for the next time.  Finally, the gloves, they also require some waterproofing, or a different type that resists some of the water.  All in all, I really enjoyed the ride and the shortcomings that I encountered can be easily corrected, even for the ride back home.

So I suggest to everyone, if you enjoy riding as much as I do, try to extend your riding weather by preparing yourself to deal with the elements.  Even with a bike that seems to handle the wet roads, make sure you drive carefully.  Increase the distance between your bike and the car in front of you; don’t break too hard and remember to downshift; take corners at a lower speed; and always always always remain vigilant for other drivers who probably don’t see you, especially when it is raining.

Be safe.

Riding in the rain

Since I’ve been riding, I’ve made considerable efforts to avoid riding in the rain, and this practice isn’t without good cause.  If you’ve ever gotten caught in the rain while riding, you quickly realize that this isn’t the ideal situation to find yourself.  Depending on when the rain begins, you’ll have to deal with the oil/debris movement which occurs within minutes of the onset of rain and generally lasts about 15 minutes.  This is the point that is most treacherous for riders because as the oil/debris moves from the center of the lane to the sides, you can’t avoid riding through it.  And since we have only the two wheels, our stability can be greatly affected by this.

Along with the oil and  debris, our traction is reduced, more so in turns than in straight and level rides.  Finally, depending on the helmet you wear, you have to contend with the constant pounding of water on your face.  If you have a full-faced helmet, then you need to worry only about wiping the visor clear of water periodically.  However, if you are like me, one who wears a half-helmet, then you will feel the water hitting your face, which feels like little rocks bouncing off you.  Water is soft when it isn’t moving at a high rate of speed, so water drops aren’t your friend on a motorcycle.

To be sure, the ladder of risk rises when it rains, but you can mitigate those risks by doing just a couple of things. First, reduce your speed.  This shouldn’t be too hard since you have to deal with the spray from cars in front of you and the rain; thus, reducing your speed by 5 to 10 MPH can be very helpful.  Also, if you are wearing a half-helmet, there are items available that can cover your face to take the impact of the water drops.  This won’t always keep you dry, but it will eliminate the pain associated with it.  Finally, if it is a shower, then riding isn’t a bad thing; however, when you are threatened with thunderstorms or heavy downpours and/or lightening, you should pull over and try to wait out the storm.  At the least, stop under a bridge and take a quick break to allow the heaviest part of the rain to pass by you.  If it appears as though the rain is traveling in your direction, give it some time before you get back on the road.  Your destination will still be there, even if you get there a little late.

These are some of the tips I’ve learned over the years while riding and, more recently, by watching videos and taking classes.  Understanding where your hazards are can lower your chances of having to deal with a bad situation.  For instance, the paint or “stickers” they use to identify lane separations and crosswalks are slippery when wet, so avoid stopping or turning on them.  Bridge seams are also slippery when wet, but may be harder to avoid in turns.  Just be prepared for a slight slide to the opposite side of the turn when you cross them.

To point out, my confidence in riding has improved, and I’m not as fearful of riding in potentially bad weather.  I’m not saying if it is raining or if rain is in the forecast that I’m going to pull out the bike.  I still say if the weather forecasters, in their infinite wisdom, say there is a 30% chance of rain or less, then I will ride; and if I have to deal with rain, then I am comfortable enough to know what to do.  Usually a percentage higher than 30 will keep BB in the garage for another day.  While in riding season, I don’t want to keep her parked because just about everyday is questionable when it comes to rain.

Ultimately, each rider must make the decision to ride or not to ride in the rain.  However, being prepared is the most important element of riding; also, know your skills and limitations, and always remember to T-CLOCS (T-CLOCS_Inspection_Checklist_2012) your bike.  

Keep the rubber side down and happy riding.