Autumn is a wonderful time to be on a motorcycle. While the long hours of sunshine make summer the peak riding season, autumn has a special appeal. Perhaps the allure is due to the fall foliage or fewer hours of daylight, making riding more precious. Maybe it’s because we know deep down now is the time to gather as many rides as we can before the dark days of winter arrive. One thing is for sure—the autumn weather is a nice reprise from the dog days of summer.
However, riding in cooler weather means a little more preparation should be done to your motorcycle before you hit the road. The following are four things to keep in mind.
A 10-degree drop in ambient temperature can reduce tire pressure by 2 percent. If the last time you checked the tire pressure before a ride was on a 70-degree morning, on a 40-degree morning, your tires could be underinflated by 6 percent. On an unseasonably warm fall morning, the pressure you set on a previously cold morning could now be too high. Large variations from recommended tire inflation guidelines can adversely affect handling, safety, and tire wear. Checking tire inflation before every ride is important, especially when the temperatures vary widely like they do in the fall.
If you run higher viscosity oil in the summer, now is the time to change it. Viscosity is the expressed measure of how resistant oil is to flowing and shearing. Proper viscosity oil is critical to reducing engine wear and maintaining good fuel economy. As the temperature rises in your motorcycle’s engine, the oil viscosity lowers, thus higher viscosity oil handles high heat better. Conversely as temperatures fall, oil viscosity increases. High viscosity and low temperatures can result in harder starting and provide less than optimum lubrication. Even if your motorcycle uses the same multi-grade oil all year, heading toward winter and possible storage is another good reason to change the oil.
As the weather gets cooler and nighttime temperatures drop into the 30s and 40s, starting your motorcycle will require more battery power. If you use accessories such as heated handgrips or electric riding gear, less current is going toward charging the battery. Even the best battery will not last forever. If your battery is more than a few years old, have it tested to avoid a surprise failure.
Leather jackets that may have been too hot in the middle of summer feel just right in the fall. But just wearing a warm jacket will not prepare you for the wide change in temperature that occurs on the average fall day. A 40-degree difference from high to low temperatures, before you add in the wind chill factor from riding, requires a different amount of riding gear. Dressing in layers and packing some of your winter gear will keep you ready for the sudden weather changes that come with the season.
Enjoy the rides of this ever-changing season by being prepared. Till next time, ride safe!