As a motorcycle rider, weather is always a determining factor. Just because it is hot outside doesn’t mean you can’t take a fun, but safe ride. There are precautions that need to be taken when the heat and humidity are extreme. Rider fatigue due to dehydration or heat exhaustion can lead to a fatal ride. Being prepared is the best way to ride safe when the forecast says it’s going to be a hot day.
Remember when the temperature is high and the sun is beating down on your motorcycle the surface is going to be hot to the touch. Make sure to park your bike in the shade and if that is not possible, cover the seat and handlebars to ensure they will be cool enough to touch. Chrome and dark painted metals absorb heat, so always be cautious.
Some people like to shed clothing when it is hot, but this isn’t a good idea when riding. Riding in shorts, sandals and a tank top is very unsafe. Clothing offers another layer of protection in the event of an accident. It is possible to stay cool even while covered up. A great alternative to a leather jacket is a man-made textile jacket. It offers much more ventilation than leather, but still offers protection against a fall. Riding jackets and pants are also offered in an air mesh Kevlar. This vents much better than traditional denim and leather. Helmets with front and rear vents also allow great airflow to cool the rider’s head. There is also great technology in riding gear with cooling vests. These slip under your riding jacket. They are filled with water and as the vest heats up water is released and cools the body down. There are even some companies that offer a battery operated fan to mount inside a helmet.
No matter what preparations are taken, the rider will sweat. Sitting at a stop light or in traffic, the air flow will be minimal causing the rider to sweat. This is a good thing, because your body sweats to cool itself down. Once the motorcycle is moving, the airflow will cool the body down. Being covered will help combat the sun as well as create a reverse wind chill effect. The air will pull the heat from the moisture on your body as you ride along. Fabrics like cotton reverse this effect because they absorb the moisture. Wetting your clothes can even help as it will create the effect of sweating.
Staying hydrated is very important. Dehydration will lead to fatigue and it will only be downhill from there. If a rider stops sweating, this usually indicates dehydration. Stop periodically to have a drink or wear a camelback type water bag to drink water will riding. Wear sunglasses or use a dark visor to reduce glare from the sun. This can also cause fatigue.
Road conditions are also different in extreme heat as asphalt begins to soften. Tar sealants will become slippery when riding across. Edges in roads in a potholes begin to crumble more because the asphalt may loosen due to the heat. When parking a motorcycle on asphalt in the sun make sure to use a kickstand pad or piece of wood to increase the surface area of your kickstand. You don’t want to come back to a motorcycle lying on its side because it sank into the street.
Practice safe riding techniques and protect yourself from the sun. A rider can still enjoy a summer ride with a little exercise in caution. Stay cool and ride safe!