Midwestern bikers look forward to spring and summer all year, anxious to pull their motorcycles out of winter storage and head out on the open road under sunny skies for the first time in months. Often, in their rush to enjoy the season, many bikers take shortcuts that compromise their safety. Bikers face so many hazards on the road—from careless motorists to poor road conditions—that taking more risks by not being prepared for summer riding is unnecessary and potentially deadly.
Summer Riding Should Not Be Careless Riding
When temperatures begin to climb after a cold Kansas City winter, it may be tempting to experience the rush of warm air on your skin as you work out the winter rust and dust. But just as riding without proper safety gear is unsafe in cooler weather, it is just as dangerous in the warm air of summer. In fact, the right gear is even more important because of the risk of overheating and becoming dehydrated in high temperatures. Investing in safety gear that is specifically designed for coping with the heat will be well worth it in the long run.
Don’t Ride Without This Safety Gear
Every conscientious rider knows that he should always wear a helmet and a jacket designed for safety, but many bikers do not know that these essential items are also available in materials and designs meant for warm weather. Before the season begins, look for summer gear such as the following:
- A mesh jacket. A traditional leather or Kevlar motorcycle jacket will be too hot for summer riding. A mesh jacket is made from protective material, but is fully vented to keep you cool. Experienced riders recommend wearing a cooling vest—designed to be soaked in water and wrung out before wearing—or a wet t-shirt under the mesh jacket for added cooling benefits.
- A fully vented helmet. Even though helmets are not required for adult riders in Kansas and Missouri, it is always a good idea to wear one. In warm weather, opt for a vented full-face helmet. A racing style helmet is a good option as it has large vents and lots of air flow.
- Long pants. Yes, we know it’s hot and you wear shorts 24/7 in the summer, but exposing your legs to asphalt and gravel in the event of an accident is a bad idea. Pack a pair of shorts in your saddle bag and wear light-colored jeans or mesh pants instead. Not only will they protect your skin if you crash, but they will protect you from sunburn and flying debris.
- Gloves and boots. Bare hands and feet are extremely vulnerable to the elements. Protect them with vented gloves and boots. These accessories will protect you if you crash and they will also make handling hot hand grips and foot pegs easier.
The proper gear is half the battle, but you will want to take further precautions to protect yourself in the heat of summer.
Preparation Is the Key to Safety
Before you head out for a ride on a hot sunny day, take these precautions to stay safe:
- Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before you leave and always bring water with you, even if you’re only planning on a short ride. One helpful tip is to freeze a bottle of water and throw it in your saddle bag. When you’re ready for a drink, it will be melted but still nice and cold.
- Wear sunscreen. Even if you feel completely covered, wear sunscreen on any exposed skin, including under any mesh clothing, as sun can get through the mesh and burn your skin.
- Bring extra oil. If your bike overheats on a long ride, you will be grateful you have extra motor oil with you.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If you begin to feel faint, dizzy, or fatigued or suddenly break into a heavy sweat, pull over and cool down by taking off your helmet and jacket and drinking plenty of water.
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