There’s nothing quite like putting on your gloves, leather chaps and leather jacket as you prepare to ride through the winding roads and admire the beauty of the colorful leaves as they prepare to fall to the ground. As you head out on a relaxing motorcycle ride on a cool fall evening, it’s important to remember that the season is coming to a close and there may be new challenges on the roadway.
Most people assume that the end of September represents the end of motorcycling for the year and going back to life as usual, but they are missing out on what can be some of the best motorcycle riding periods of the year. Riding along the North Shore Scenic Byway on a brisk autumn morning is an incredible experience and oftentimes even therapeutic.
While the September through November months can still bring lifelong memories of taking motorcycle trips with family and friends, there are a few considerations to remember as you head out on your motorcycle. Here are 4 tips to keep your autumn motorcycle riding excursions safe and filled with fun:
1. Wear Weather-Appropriate Clothing
Autumn motorcycle riding, although very enjoyable, is not the same experience as summer riding. This is because the temperature, roadway and hours of sunlight are very different in the autumn months. While you may have been able to ride with a lighter leather jacket and chaps along with basic leather gloves, your motorcycle clothing will now change due to the changing seasons. Now, to protect yourself from the stinging coolness of fall, you will likely need a layer or two of thick long-sleeved shirts or sweaters followed by your cold-weather riding jacket.
Because of the coolness of the day, you might also have to trade in your light-duty hand gloves for a pair of well-insulated gloves made from heat-absorbing materials like Gore-tex. The last thing you want during your evening ride is to have your fingers get too cold and lose your firm grip on the bike handles. Also, consider wearing a neck gaiter to protect your neck, face and rest of your upper body by blocking the wind flow from going into your jacket.
Remember, if it feels like sweatshirt weather outside, then it will most likely feel like it is freezing when you get on your bike to go motorcycling in autumn. Also, you never know when a surprise rain storm will show up, so it’s important to not forget to pack your rain suit!
2. Watch Out For Wildlife
Studies have shown that you are more likely to have a collision with an animal in autumn than any other season, a large percentage of the yearly animal collisions occur between September and November. This is because animals are more active in these periods because of the mating season, dispersing from certain areas or running away from predators. Not paying attention while operating your Harley-Davidson motorcycle could lead to a severe accident as you never know when a deer, bear, raccoon, or other animal is going to run out of the tree grove and across the roadway.
It’s important to remember to wear your protective gear during this season especially as you have an increased risk of running into a deer or turkey. These animals tend to be active near roadways, so it’s important to closely monitor the roads during the autumn season. Extra caution should be taken if you are riding through a wooded area as animals could appear from anywhere. Because of the increased danger of running into wildlife while on the road, make sure that your tires and brakes are well serviced and lubricated, in case you need to make an emergency stop at high speed.
While autumn motorcycle riding brings increased dangers, it can also make for great sightseeing of animals. Whether you’re driving carefully on the road and you see a turkey along the road and slow down or you see a number of deer in the distance and pull to the side of the road to get a better look, there are some incredible sights to take in during the fall months.
3. Ensure your motorcycle is running smoothly
As mentioned previously, it’s always advisable to run a full servicing of your motorcycle before longer trips or depending on how frequently you use it. If you’ve been riding your bike throughout the summer and still have intentions for motorcycling throughout the autumn months, you should ensure your tires are in good working order. If your treads are running thin (anything less than 2/32-inch-deep), consider changing them before your ride.
Fluids should be topped-off or changed entirely as you do not want blackened fluid quickly thickening in the cold weather as you ride. In the case of a liquid-cooled engine, ensure that your coolant is still good. Make sure that your headlights are also in good working order as you might end up in a thick mist, especially high up the hills where the atmosphere is much cooler. It’s important to remember that the days are shorter as well which means daylight runs out that much sooner.
Also incorporating a couple of heated gear items such as heated seats and hand grips would go a long way in making your autumn motorcycle ride more comfortable and enjoyable.
4. Beware Of Poor Road Surfaces
During autumn, the cold nights tend to leave a morning frost. This could be a big hazard as the road will either be frozen or wet, which severely reduces the road’s traction. While the entire road can experience this freeze, it’s common for shaded areas, like under thick tree coverings, to remain frozen or wet for a longer duration. Because of this, it’s important to be aware of places like this if you intend to take a morning cruise.
Wet leaves also tend to be almost as slippery as ice. They become hazardous during autumn because trees lose most of their leaves during this season. Although modern motorcycle tires come with a very good grip on the road, no matter what the condition is, you should consider avoiding those fallen leaves as much as possible to be on the safe side.
If you plan on taking a long ride, make sure your tires are in good shape and replace them before your ride if they’re not in good condition in order to avoid any possible incidents.
Autumn Motorcycle Riding with Zylstra Harley-Davidson
If you’re located in the greater Twin Cities, MN area, make sure to stop at our showroom in Elk River for all your tune-ups, servicing, and Harley-Davidson gear needs. We sell new and previously owned high-quality motorcycles, motorcycle riding gear and much more!
Stop in today to purchase all of your autumn motorcycle riding gear!