Fun in the sun: Top tips for riding your motorbike in a heatwave
When the sun comes out it’s more tempting than ever to get the bike out of the garage and rack-up some miles.
Riding in hot weather is great but you and your bike need to be prepared. This is especially important if you haven’t had your pride and joy out for a while.
- Related: Best summer motorbike kit
Here’s MCN’s hot weather riding checklist to make sure you get the most from the summer.
Top tips for riding in a heatwave
- Tinted sun visors
- Inspect your tyres
- Check your fluids
- Wear the right gear
- Park in the shade
- Plan your journey
- Wear sun cream
Your tyres go through a lot whatever the weather but when the temperatures soar, your rubber can really suffer. When the tarmac gets hot, so do your tyres, which makes it crucial that your tyres have the correct pressures.
If you don’t have a pressure gauge at home just pop round to your local fuel station and use their compressor.
Also, check for general wear and tear or damage on the tread, especially since the warmer conditions might encourage a more spirited ride.
Always make sure your fluid levels are correct before setting off. Your bike will have a specific process for checking the oil level so whip out the manual if you don’t already know how.
The brake and clutch fluid levels can usually be checked easily by looking at the indicator lines on the reservoirs. Also check the coolant level in your radiator (if you have one of course).
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- Repairing your motorbike on the move
- How to ride your motorbike off road
- How to ride a motorbike in rain
Your components get a particularly tough time in the heat and you want to make sure they all keep working, especially on a longer ride.
If you’ve not got any summer gear it’s probably time to invest. Riding in cold weather gear when it’s hot will mean you get very uncomfortable. You’ll be way more uncomfortable if you give in to temptation and ditch the heavy jacket in favour of a T-shirt then chuck it down the road.
Proper summer gear will keep you cool without compromising on safety; shorter-cuffed summer gloves can still have PU knuckle protection and thick pads on the palm, riding jeans offer a much cooler ride than leathers (although they won’t do the same job of protection). Vented, textile jackets are much breezier than leathers and can still have elbow, shoulder and back protection at the very least.
Your bike’s seat, plastics and paint will suffer if you leave it in the sun too long, as will any hoses on display.
An impromptu blast around the countryside is one thing, but if you’re planning something longer you should make sure you plan where you’re going and take plenty of breaks for water.
If you’re likely to be spending long spells away from civilisation, you will need to carry your own. Being dehydrated will affect your ability to concentrate and that’s not a good thing on a motorbike.
At the risk of sounding like your parent/grandparent/godparent, make sure you put some protection on any exposed areas. Backs of necks, wrists if you’re wearing short gloves, and your face are typical hot spots.
While tinted visors appear to have died a death alongside the popularity of sports bikes in recent years, they’re still around and you need to know the law.
You can find out what MCN’s resident lawyer Andrew Campbell advises on our tinted visor article over on the insurance advice section on MCN Compare.