Game Plan: Blustery Weather

Safety Tip of the Week
Wind: Not Always A Breaze

As promised, we have more safety tips about riding in windy conditions. This time, we’ll look at riding techniques that may help you defy the wind on those rare occasions when you must ride on blustery days. You’ll find that how you position your body is vital.

We’ll start with the easier situations. When the wind is coming from behind you or ahead of you, duck down and ride behind your windscreen. Pull your arms and legs in. The goal is to decrease wind resistance. In a headwind, you may have more control if you drop down a gear and smoothly accelerate into the wind. Obviously, you cannot continue to accelerate indefinitely. If the wind is slowing you down to the point that you’re impeding traffic, it’s time to get off the road. Take a break or choose a different roadway. In a tailwind, you might choose to trail your rear brake slightly. Remember to leave some extra stopping distance and be careful that the wind doesn’t push you past your comfort zone or cause you to go too fast for road or traffic conditions.

Crosswinds are more problematic. Try not to grip the handlebars too tightly. You’ll have better steering control if you move forward in the seat and lift your elbows so you’re riding motocross fashion. Try sticking out your knee in the direction from which the crosswind is coming. This seems to create a kind of sail that pushes your motorcycle into the wind and thereby counteracts it. It will take practice to learn to do this correctly. Putting a little pressure on the handlebars in the direction of the crosswind will cause your motorcycle to lean into the wind and have a similar effect. You can also use your body weight to counteract a crosswind. Shift your sitting position a bit in the direction from which the wind is coming.

A steady wind is trouble enough. Blustery winds with variable speeds are worse. Slow down and ride loose. Keep your elbows out. At any moment, you might find it necessary to accelerate, lean, and steer to keep your bike under control.

Even when the wind is steady, anything that blocks the wind can cause trouble. When you ride into the lee of a building, line of bushes or trees, even a semi traveling next to you, it will be the same as if the wind stopped; if you’re still leaning into the wind, you’ll tip farther. And when you pass that barrier against the wind, you’ll be hit again. Be wary!

On windy days, ride in the center of your lane. Give yourself room so the wind doesn’t blow you off the road or into traffic.