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Riding a motorcycle is all fun and sweet until the weather changes. Think of it: windy and gusty weather knocks you sideways towards the traffic in the next lane. Or it makes it challenging to keep your bike in line. Even worse, the motorcycle moves in ways not predictable.
While the windy weather may be unavoidable, the bike ride is all easily controlled. For those times when you are already out riding, some tactics make a difference.
Yes, you can ride a motorcycle safely in the tailwinds, crosswinds, headwinds, or any other conditions. We have tips, suggestions, and tactics for staying safe if you find yourself out on a ride in windy and gusty conditions. However, do not purposefully go out on a ride if you know the weather will be bad-rain, wind, or both.
Important Points to Remember When Riding Motorcycle in the Wind
Riding in the wind adds tons of extra challenges to stay safe and arrive on time. Your bike type and body position have a huge effect on your ability to ride in the wind. Other factors matter, too, including the weather, where you ride, and the weather. Here are 12 specific things to keep in mind when riding in windy conditions.
1. Wear the Proper Gear and Protective Eyewear
Before you embark on a bike ride, understand the importance of safe riding gear, from a motorcycle-approved helmet to boots, pants, and jacket. You must wear proper equipment when riding, not just for a windy ride but also for any adverse weather condition. Get protective boots, pants, and a jacket made of thick material to combat wind chill. Your helmet should fit (never loose) and not impair hearing or vision.
That is, a helmet made of fiberglass or a plastic blend-lighter but better at absorbing impact. For a windy or gusty bike ride, wear protective eyewear such as a helmet with a shield, a pair of goggles, or shatterproof glasses. Eye protection should be clean and unscratched-tinted lenses for sun riding and clear for night riding. Wear disposable foam plugs or earplugs to protect your ears from the wind.
Wearing proper riding gear reduces the risk of a bike accident while protecting you from bugs, debris, motorcycle heat, and even distracting weather. Hand gloves prevent injury or your hands or fingers freezing due to wind, which is crucial in maintaining control of the bike. For boots, get rubber soles close-toed shoes to protect your ankles and ensure your feet do not slip. However, make sure every gear is visible to another motorist for extra caution.
2. Check the Forecast
It is understood. Unless it is necessary, don't get on a motorcycle with an adverse weather condition expected. Instead, check the day's weather forecast. For a projected windy day, find what direction the wind is coming from and speed. How strong is the wind? Will there be light showers or rain?
With a reliable weather forecast, you can gauge how challenging the ride can be and be prepared enough. If you must ride on a windy day, pick a route less likely to have stronger wind or heavy traffic. Nevertheless, remember a windy ride is perilous. Without much riding experience, choose to stay at home and ride another day. Even for pro riders, a windy ride may not be worth the risk.
3. Secure Loose Items
Anything loose on your bike increases the risk of catching in the wind and throwing you off-road. From the tank, saddlebags to clothing, add a frontal area that wind catches on. Saddlebags add extra space with the headwind, increasing drag as air moves around the motorcycle.
In addition, the same effect with a crosswind as it hits your form on either side is risky. With loose items, the wind will have more impact on you and your bike. Just leave the bags behind; they are not always helpful in the wind ride.
Be cautious of adding larger bags on a windy ride. Moreover, be prepared to control the bike with the best windy ride tactics. Ensure everything on the motorcycle is zipped, closed, and fastened. Remember, the wind speed has a way of unfastening your cargo; hence secure everything tight to avoid any flap in the wind. That is, whether it's external or from riding.
4. Use a Firm and Relaxed Grip
How are your motorcycle riding abilities? Newbies in the bike game need to avoid windy and extreme conditions. However, if you have to ride, use a firm, relaxed grip. Push the steering to hold your path of travel. Remember, white-knuckling doesn't help any situation on the bike. When a gust of wind comes your way, it's essential to get back on track right away. Keep a firm but simple method. That is a simple push-steering method.
A left wind pushes toward the right, pushing the steer on the left handlebar so you can adjust the ride in the wind without overcorrecting. If that turns out difficult, apply a constant pressure on the left bar to counter the crosswind effect from the left.
Most importantly, learn how to be safe and take motorcycle classes that will improve your riding skills.
5. Position Yourself and Leave Plenty of Wiggle Room
On a windy day, lane positioning is quite important. Leave more space between yourself and other vehicles on the road. Moreover, your bike will need more room to wobble. When riding on a multi-lane, the traffic may force you to one side of the lane. Hence, ride in a particular lane avoiding other vehicles.
More wiggle room and lane positioning counteract crosswinds, as you stay safe around other traffic. To be safer, ride in the center of the lane.
6. Choose The Safest Lane
While there is nothing like the best or safest lane to ride in, if possible, stay in the center lane. The lane you choose depends on the wind strength and direction, other traffic, and the road. For a two-lane highway, choose the middle or left. You may choose one side of the lane on a multi-lane and ride in a particular lane to stay away from danger. Even if the wind seems to come from one direction, choose the center lane. The wind may hit bigger obstacles like hills, trucks, or an overpass, reflected in different directions.
Incoming traffic on a two-lane road may push to the right as they pass. Thus the left or middle lane gives you room to the right as needed. However, it's easy to avoid slipping into another lane or bumpy shoulder when you stay in the center.
7. Watch Your Mirrors
The wind will move your bike mirrors. In addition, you and the bike will naturally lean into the force of the wind. That is, to correct the position and stay straight. The rearview mirrors twist with the current as well. Even if the wind doesn't reposition your mirrors, the shift off your bike seat makes it difficult to use the mirrors as they won't be in the right spot.
Stay alert on the road by adjusting your mirrors to suit the wind effects. In addition, direct sight review to compensate for the wind effects. Finally, always keep a check on your mirrors, and you are surrounded too in a windy ride. This will help you keep track of the happenings on the road for your safety.
8. Focus Around Wind Blocks
As you ride on a windy day, large trucks, hills, and mountains will tend to block the wind for a while. While this phenomenon shields you against the wind, it creates strong wind tunnels that hit you hard past the obstacle. More so, when you ride out from behind them. Moving obstacles such as tracks and trailers can push a lot of wind around them. The wind ether sucks the bike in towards them or pushes you away and into another lane,
Enormous buildings and landmarks can give you a rush of air as you ride out alongside or behind them. Be prepared for the ride past or out of the wind block and back to the wind again. Stay calm and focus through these areas.
9. Avoid Carrying Bags or Cargo
Heavy baggage isn't helpful in the wind. Leave the bags behind on a windy ride. Saddlebags, backpacks, and other baggage create more surface area for the wind to push you around, destabilizing the bike. Besides, the bike will move around more in the wind.
If you must carry bags, secure them or use small baggage. You can also secure them tightly, so they won't flap in the wind, whether it's external or from driving.
10. Don't Panic
When an unexpected gust of wind hits your bike, basic instinct may kick, and you find yourself panicking. Some riders FEAR they'll be lifted and swept off the road into the ditch. Don't just shut the throttle sharply or use an emergency brake. It would help if you kept a steady throttle to stabilize the bike.
Pro rider's advice on slightly accelerating into the wind if the road allows that option. Hence, steer into the wind. Another approach is to push gently on the right-hand bar if the gust is coming from the left. The approach counter steers the bike. However, if you are on the left-hand side of the road and the bike leans over, doing this would lift. Moreover, the approach will have the same effect in crosswinds.
The motorcycle is solid on the ground as long as the rider remains calm and in control. Many mishaps are because of rider panic – hence don't surrender the control to the wind. Not panicking helps keep track of the surroundings, which boosts your survival rate with side winds a lot. Hence, as much about what feels good for you as what works.
11. Avoid Fatigue
A windy motorcycle ride involves fighting to stay in a particular lane and counteracting different types of winds, riding slower than expected, and continually bending your riding locus can wear you out fast. Riding in the wind will lead to fatigue much quicker than normal weather conditions. This is because the extra energy you will use tires you and muscle fatigue in your body. The wind will also strain your mind as you determine how to ride.
The best remedy for this is to take a break when you feel sore or tired. Stop for some time to relax and let your hands and legs take a break. Moreover, a break helps with mental and physically relaxing your mind and body.
12. Sober Riding
Riding a bike under the influence is horrible, more so on a windy day. The experience could be deadly to you and any road user. If you consider the reflexes, it will take to ride a bike and the vulnerability involved, you can get on it drunk or high.
Motorcycle Riding Techniques for Windy Conditions
Here are some techniques to use when riding in the wind:
Riding in Tailwind
The tailwind force comes from behind the bike. While trail wind is one of the easiest conditions to handle on a motorcycle, you must know how to ride one safely.
The tailwind will push the bike along, increasing its speed. It's beneficial for gas mileage, but the bike needs more stopping distance than normal.
To navigate tailwinds, tuck your body in to make yourself smaller. This position reduces your surface area, so the wind can't push against you as much. Watch incoming traffic speeds and other road conditions, and maintain the lowest speed limit.
Tailwind increases your bike speed, hence stay within your comfort zone. Slowing down when the speed gets out of control is highly recommended. You can even stop the ride until the wind subsides.
The tailwind often shifts to crosswinds or headwinds. Prepare for these conditions. too.
Unlike tailwinds, this wind comes from either side. Crosswind is the most difficult to navigate. The wind pushes the bike to the side.
How to Combat Crosswind
- Use your knees: the knee creates a sort of sail in the direction the wind is blowing. With that, the wind won't push the bike as hard, hence counteracting the conditions. The technique involves using the leg on the side the wind is coming from—right leg for right crosswinds and left for left.
- Shift weight slightly: you can counter the wind by shifting weight a bit to the side that the crosswind comes from. However, shift the weight with care not to disturb bike balance.
- Lean into it: lean the bike toward the direction the wind is coming to counter the push. Again, be very careful not to alter the bike and your balance and result in a fall.
As you ride in the crosswind, don't panic. Keep the body as loose and relaxed as possible but maintain your grip on the handlebars. However, if the wind seems too dangerous, take a break until the winds die down.
Headwinds are common for motorcycle riders. It comes from the front, and you experience some level of it as you ride anyway. In windy weather, you may experience more of a headwind than you would on a normal day. The technique to ride your bike in a headwind minimizes the area that the wind has to blow.
Moreover, ride low behind the windshield and keep your legs and arms close enough to your body and bike. Also, maintain high speed as the headwind slows you down. Headwind slows down traffic, which may create an unsafe situation for you. You will also spend more gas to keep up the speed.
Again, if the wind is too strong for the ride, wait it out.
Other Safety Considerations When Riding a Motorcycle in Windy Conditions
Let's find out more!
Take a Riding Course
Know how to ride in adverse weather conditions. The safety course is a fantastic method to keep safe on a bike ride. Also, find advice for experienced riders that you can use in unsafe conditions.
Always complete the safety course. The better prepares you're, the more fun you can have once you're out there riding in the wind
Install anti-lock brakes on your bike. The bike models come with standard anti-lock, and you can have yours installed with relatively strong ones.
The brakes help stop the bike fast and safely. They will come in handy on a windy ride, especially for newbies in bike riding.
Get an Inspection
Have a mechanic look over your motorcycle occasionally to make sure it's safe to ride. You can have it checked regularly or have a professional check it before you ride in the wind. In addition, you can walk around the bike and look for any potential issues before you embark on a windy weather ride.
Wind will come in any direction while riding a motorcycle. Crosswinds push the bike from side to side, and you can counteract that by using the above techniques. However, remember there is no bulletproof technique for windy riding days.
Leave that heavy baggage for your ride on a windy day. Large saddle or tank bags add a frontal area, making you larger for the wind to push. Also, watch out for larger obstacles that cause wind blocks. The wind pushing around them is much stronger and may cause an adverse impact.
Learn how to ride in the Crosswind, which is wind, comes from either side pushing you over. Also, find out the headwind and tailwind riding tactics above. Make sure you are also aware of the road and dress properly for the ride.
In case you ride in the wind a lot, find the best bike for the wind. That is a larger and heavier bike.
People Also Ask
Before we wrap up, let’s check out a few of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle riding in wind.
Can Wind Knock a Motorcycle Over While Riding?
Yes. Wind can knock over a bike while riding. Riders are very fearful of riding in the crosswind, more so within a wind block. Nevertheless, the combined weight of your body and bike is more than enough to keep you stable in any time of wind. Just be careful and use the right techniques to ride in the wind.
How Windy Is Too Windy To Ride a Motorcycle?
No wind is too much to ride a bike for a pro rider. However, winds between 20-30 mph are too much for most riders, especially for smaller and lightweight motorcycles. On average, 40mph is a sustainable wind ride, while 45 mph will gust you down even for heavier motorcycles.