With the clocks turning back and the nights growing longer, the roads become more treacherous for bikers at this time of year. If you're taking to the roads on two wheels this winter, make sure that you stand out from your surroundings. We offer some practical tips on how you can make yourself more visible on your motorbike during the darker months.
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During the winter there is inevitably a higher chance of wet weather, snow and fog. As well as making you cold and wet and making riding conditions more dangerous, poor weather will also make it harder for other road users to spot you. Combine these conditions with longer, darker nights and the risk of a motorbike accident increases dramatically.
The best way to mitigate these risks is to make yourself as visible as possible to other road users. So what's the best way to do this?
There are a number of measures that you can take to increase your chances of being seen on the roads this winter.
Wearing brightly coloured outer-wear will help significantly. Hi-vis jackets, trousers and backpacks (if you wear one) will all help you to stand out against a grey and gloomy background. If you don't want to fork out on new motorbike clothing, you can opt to wear a hi-vis vest over your jacket instead – this will still go a long way to help you be seen.
As well as your clothing, don't forget that your bike can also help to increase your visibility. Brightly coloured motorbikes will be easier to spot than those in plain colours. While we're obviously not suggesting that you buy a new bike for the winter (or that you get the spray can out) it is something to consider if and when you're shopping for a new bike.
Making sure that you're reflective will really help you to be seen at night. Your bike clothing should have some reflective patches built in already – have a look at where these are and make sure that they're not obstructed by a bag, luggage rack or anything else. Remember, you want these reflective areas to be visible from all angles. Some clothing will have more reflective sections built in than others, so again this is something worth taking into account when you're shopping.
Your bike should also already have reflective sections on the bodywork. Have a look at where these are and think about whether it could be worth adding any more. If you do want to add more, you can purchase reflective strip or stickers for this purpose. This are straightforward to apply and aren't too expensive.
During the winter months, you should be more vigilant than ever when it comes to your bike lights. Before you set off on a journey, do a quick check to make sure that all the lights on your bike are working as they should be. Carry some spare bulbs with you – you don't want to find yourself stranded far from home with a blown bulb.
If you feel that your bike lights aren't as powerful as you'd like, there's always the option of fitting additional lights to the bike
itself or swapping out the bulbs in your existing lights with upgraded LED bulbs. Both of these options are reasonably inexpensive and easy to fit yourself.
Also, make sure that you give your lights a regular clean over the winter. They can become coated in a layer of mud, oil and other dirt that's kicked up from the road surface, which over time will make them shine less brightly. Wiping away this grime will take next to no time but could make a world of difference.