There are plenty of beautiful, scenic and exciting routes out there to take your motorcycle for a spin – but when it comes to motorcycle safety, it’s best to remember that a two-wheeled vehicle will always be more unstable on certain road surfaces.
It’s always necessary to scan and check the road ahead, as there are a number of frequent road surface issues that can potentially put any rider at risk. Recognising these surfaces is essential for any motorcyclist, whether you’re new to the roads or a veteran rider, and it could help prevent the worst from happening.
Potholes And Degradation
Road degradation is unfortunately an all too common issue encountered by road users, a particular problem being potholes.
Potholes are caused by a small failure on the road surface, which gradually is made worse due to vehicles, frosty weather, and running water causing sections around the hole to become dislodged. They can play havoc with motorcycle suspension, damaging components due to the sudden suspension change of hitting one – they can also interfere with braking performance and cause tyres to burst.
There are many other issues with surfaces as a result of degradation, including cracking that can lead to poor grip on the tarmac, worn and loose areas that can cause skidding, along with the forming of corrugations and ruts. The latter can force wheels to tramline along the edges, making the bike unexpectedly change direction.
One of the worst road surfaces to tackle on a motorcycle is gravel, which often kills any grip whilst riding.
Gravel roads can often be highly unpredictable, kicking up dust and loose stones at the rider. The banks that form the edges of the road can also be troublesome, as gravel roads are crowned higher for water runoff. This can cause a vehicle to slowly slide into the banks, and for riders not paying enough attention, a fall is likely to happen.
Bikes will often behave unpredictably on gravel, easily causing a crash – most riders will follow tracks left by other vehicles as these will have fewer loose stones. However, when wet these tracks can become slick and just as tricky to navigate.
Vegetation And Weather Effects
During the autumn months, many trees drop leaves onto the roads, and when they become wet from frequent downpours, they can form a slippery mush on the tarmac. Also many plants will shed leaves at this time of year, that will also decay into slimy piles – all making it very difficult for a motorcyclist.
Sections of the road that have been covered for a while will be shaded from the sun, and therefore be prevented from drying out – leaving them constantly wet from rainy weather.
During cold weather, black ice can form on surfaces, caused by falling drizzle in freezing temperatures. This type of ice is hard to spot and can often result in accidents for unwary riders.
Debris And Spillages
Due to many environmental factors, or even other accidents, the roads can often be littered with potentially hazardous debris and liquids.
Items can fall from large vehicles, mud and vegetation will be dragged up from agricultural machinery – rocks, and other detritus can be washed up or blown into areas by storms.
Spillages can occur from the likes of lorries, or farming vehicles, causing slippery surfaces – as well as other road accidents leaving fluids, broken glass and plastic behind, creating hazards and damaging the road.
Road Covers And Repairs
Roadworks can seem like they’re everywhere and on going repairs can often leave more risks on the road surface.
Temporary holes may be covered by large steel plates, that are often covered in skid-resistant material, but not always – they can be slippery when wet. Manhole covers also suffer from the same problem after persistent rainfall.
Recently filled service trenches can cause bumps, and sometimes settle, creating channels where water will remain as a puddle.
These are just a few examples of the potentially hazardous surfaces to look out for when riding the roads. So make sure to stay vigilant and safe – so you can enjoy your motorcycle journey without the danger.
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