Motorcycles are relatively light vehicles, and that lends to fast acceleration and easy handling. But it can also make the bike and its rider vulnerable to high winds. Ask any biker who has crossed a bridge during a storm, and they’ll tell you that your small size can suddenly feel very exposed!
Whether facing a steady wind or gusts from nature or other vehicles on the road, here are some tips to keep yourself safe and steady.
- Plan: Always check the weather conditions, radar, and wind chill charts before you set out and again at rest stops. If there are wind or weather advisories, consider changing plans.
- Gear up: Always wear the proper gear, and in a strong wind, good eye protection and a quality, aerodynamic helmet can add to your comfort and safety. Wind, of course, can also make conditions feel colder—be sure to wear comfortable layers.
- Stay calm: Take deep breaths and relax your shoulders and your grip. Stay focused on the road ahead and most hazards will pass. Don’t make sharp turns or brake suddenly.
- Look ahead: Watching trees or flags sway in the distance can help you prepare for gusts headed your way. Looking in the distance can also alert you to potential road hazards like limbs or other debris. Steele yourself when approaching a large truck.
- Tuck: There’s a reason why racers make themselves small and aerodynamic. When the wind is added to your forward speed, you can feel pushed back or lifted off of your seat. Keep your eyes up and ahead, but tuck your body down close to the tank, with knees hugging the sides, to lower your profile and reduce your resistance.
- Lean in: Just the slightest lean into a heavy gust can help you feel more stable. Keep your hands light on the bars, not gripping too hard, and lean ever so slightly into the wind. Be sure to correct your lane position if needed when the gust lets up.
- Stick out a knee: In a crosswind, try pointing your knee in the direction of the wind to produce a “sail” that will pull you slightly to the left to counteract the effect of the crosswind.
- Steady throttle: Increases or decreases in speed can add to your instability. Slow to a safe speed when you encounter the wind, then try to hold steady. If you’re riding directly into a headwind, adjust your throttle to counteract the blowback.
- Stand up: This may sound counterintuitive and the opposite of tucking, but depending on the direction of the wind, standing slightly on the pegs to lower your center of gravity may add the needed stability. With practice, you may be able to both lift off of your seat as well as tuck to break the wind.
- Take a break! The best tip may be to take a break to wait it out. Park on the side of a building away from the wind for protection and let the hazard pass. Drink water, stretch, and take a rest if you’ve been fighting the wind, which can really fatigue you.
Riding always comes with risks, but learning and training can help keep you safe. So can the right insurance. Be sure to keep yourself protected with Progressive.