Summertime means the start of motorcycle season for many service members. Whether you use your bike to commute, are planning an epic road trip, or completing a PCS via motorcycle, it’s always wise to be mindful of safety and preparation before hitting the road.
According to the U.S. Navy’s statistics, around 10-12 percent of active duty service members own or plan to own a motorcycle. Summertime also means a spike in service member deaths and injuries that are a direct result of motorcycle accidents. Most fatalities occur when the rider has no safety training, so have no doubt, it’s well worth your time!
A recent story in the Air Force Times points out that classes and helmets and base-required reflective vests can’t always protect against unavoidable, random acts that can affect the surface and quality of the road. Animals, potholes, and other distractions can catch even experienced riders off guard.
All this said, riding a motorcycle is extremely exciting and can make or break otherwise mundane summer plans. After you’re through with your safety course, confidant on your bike, completed your maintenance checklist, and are as prepared as you possibly can be, it’s time to hit the road. Here are a few tips to help you get your bike in shape for summer riding:
Riding in Hot Weather
Unless you’re lucky enough to live in one of the regions of the world that has near constant fantastic weather, you’re probably dealing with at least a little heat this summer.
- Be smart about your route: According to an article on About.com,a majority of bike owners ride mainly for pleasure, so you may have some flexibility in route choice. Pick shady country roads, and avoid scenarios that force you to stop and sit for long periods of time: like road work and lots of stop lights. Another expert tip: if you ride an air-cooled bike and you’ll be sitting for a long time, it’s a good idea to switch off the engine.
- Don’t Forget your cell phone, water and/or a sports drink with electrolytes, and even if it’s hot, don’t skip the safety gear. Yes, a jacket and long pants and boots can be obnoxiously hot, but your skin is more important.
Get your bike ready for summer:
RoadRunner states that motorcycles that have been sitting for months need maintenance before you hop back on for summer riding. If you can do it yourself, be sure to do a thorough check. Or, if you’re not 100 percent confidant in your mechanic skills, bring it to a professional for a second pair of eyes. Here are a few tips from their list to get you started:
- Start with your bike’s particular owner’s manual
- Look for any signs of leakage
- Check steering head bearings for looseness or binding.
- Clean the battery terminals
- If your gas smells like “old varnish,” the fuel may need to be drained and replaced.
- Check the oil level and note the color of the oil, as old, dirty oil leaves sludge and deposits in the engine.
- Inspect tires for cracks, wear and damage
- Check your maintenance records and schedule to determine if the motorcycle is due for a major service
Hit the road! Happy riding and be safe!