Putting your bike away for the winter can be a hard pill to swallow. But when the temperatures peak and Ohio gives you a bluebird day, you may get a window to hit the streets again. Just make sure you’re taking advantage in the right way.

Over 80% of all motorcycle wrecks end in injury or death. While there are steps you can take to help you stay safe among the other drivers on the road, harsher weather, colder temps and hazardous conditions can quickly compound the risks.

Weathering winter

A little extra preparation can help you enjoy parts of the calendar that others may consider off-limits:

  • Poor conditions: Just like you should be more cautious during heavy rains, winter can present challenges along your ride. Whipping wind, ice patches and snowdrifts can all quickly make your trip more dangerous, even when the sun is shining. Being alert is always important on a motorcycle, but colder times merit extra attention.
  • Layer up: Dropping temperatures and biting winds can cut through inadequate clothing. This can leave your hands unresponsive, and your brain sluggish and distracted. Get your face gear, winter layers and spare socks ready to go so you’re always set to act quickly.
  • Ideal equipment: You’ll want to get your motorcycle just as ready as you are. Put your windscreen back on, install a heated seat and splurge on warming grips and handguards. You’ll also want to make sure your bike is ready to run in the colder weather, with steps like installing a beefier battery, making sure your hoses and seals aren’t cracking and all your fluids are ready to handle the temperature drop.
  • Other drivers: 42% of fatal crashes happen with issues like a car turning across the path of a bike, or when a bike is overtaking in the passing lane. Cars recognizing motorcycles may be a common enough problem when bikes are considered in-season, but riding in the cold may have even fewer motorists on the lookout. You’ll want to exercise even more caution than usual when others may not be looking out for you. Conditions affect slowing and stopping times and visibility may be diminished.

Winter riding may take a little extra preparation, but keeping safe and secure could require a bit of extra effort. Be ready for the unique challenges of winter riding, and you could squeeze a few more months of riding out of the year.