Autumn riding tips
Autumn has well and truly arrived and while this means bonfires and kicking your way through leaves, for bikers it also presents a whole host of new challenges.
Whether you’re a learner biker or an experienced rider, the shorter days and unpredictable weather mean riding conditions are less than perfect – but that doesn’t mean you should pack your bike away just yet, especially if you bear the following tips in mind.
1. Look out for leaves
Yes, autumn brings with it some of the prettiest seasonal changes but the beautiful orange leaves falling from the trees bring their own dangers.
When the streets are covered in leaves it’s hard to see potential hazards like potholes or puddles and if the leaves get wet, you’re in danger of losing traction and skidding.
Try to take familiar routes so that you know where hazards are and if the leaves are wet, make sure to ride slowly until you’re sure you’re clear of the danger.
2. Cold and icy roads
Falling leaves can be difficult to deal with while riding but the impact of ice on the road can be far more dangerous.
In winter we all know to expect an icy spell here and there, especially in the mornings, but autumn can be deceptive with its sunny spells and dry, crisp days.
As always, you should assess the conditions before hitting the road and if you do feel it’s safe enough to go out on your bike, ride with extreme caution in case of any black ice.
3. Loss of daylight
Visibility is obviously vital to any road user but as the days begin to get shorter, you’ll often have no choice but to ride in the dark.
Streetlights can help but it’s your responsibility to make sure you can be seen by other motorists – wearing a hi-vis vest or adding reflectors to your jacket are both easy ways of doing this.
Low sun also means that squinting can become a regular feature of autumn riding so make sure you have a tinted visor for the change in conditions.
4. What to wear?
The weather is perhaps more changeable in autumn than any other month, with cold, frosty mornings often giving way to warm, sunny days.
So if you’re up and out early, it can be hard knowing what to wear to keep you warm but not sweating by lunchtime.
As autumn draws closer to winter, make sure you have lots of layers that keep you warm but can be removed if you get too hot.
Underlayers below a t-shirt, a neck warmer or a pair of winter gloves are useful, as are waterproofs if the weather looks really changeable.
Remember, a cold biker is a distracted one and that’s the last thing you want to be while you’re on the road.
5. Check your tyres
Bike maintenance should always be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to riding safely and when autumn arrives there are other challenges to consider.
Despite vast improvements in tyre technology over the past few years, tyres still require heat to gain traction and grip properly and on a cold autumn morning, heat can be hard to find.
Make sure your tyres are properly warmed up before accelerating or braking hard, otherwise you’ll struggle to get grip.
Another option is to switch to winter tyres, which are designed and manufactured to cope with cold weather and reduced traction better than standard tyres.