Don’t be dazzled by the colors—follow these fall season riding tips

Motorcycle on a two-lane highway on an autumn day
October 17, 2017

Autumn is one of the best times to ride and experience the splendor of nature. There’s no better way to see the fall foliage than via a motorcycle ride through fields and forests. 

On a bike, you’re immersed in the ever-changing panorama of foliage colors—unobstructed by a car’s roof and its pillars. Even a convertible places a frame in your line of vision. On a motorcycle, you glide visually unrestricted through the majesty of the trees.

Fall foliage season is very symbolic for us riders. It’s a yearly mile marker in our riding season. The swelter of late summer is gone, transformed into the delightful daytime warmth and cool nights of fall. The trees tell us that temperatures are about to fall, as the leaves flutter to the ground. 

And those fallen leaves look pretty on the ground. Who doesn’t remember the childhood joy of playing or hiding in leaves? Oh, those beautiful leaves are so pretty on the trees and yet so sneaky when on the ground.

Slip and fall—but that’s not all

Wet leaves on the road can be as slippery as an oil slick. Watch for them, especially in corners. Cornering uses a good measure of your tire’s available traction. Wet leaves can suddenly take away the remaining traction and lead to a fall.

Use caution when braking on wet leaves, as well. Wet leaves between a tire under braking loads and the road surface can cause the tire to lose traction and skid. Even with anti-lock brakes, caution is a good strategy.

Wet leaves are also a hazard under your boots when stopping or maneuvering in a parking lot. 

Fallen leaves, even when dry, present hazards. They can cover the paint lane markings on the road, concealing the lane size and turn directions. This is particularly dangerous at night when sight distance is shorter.

Leaves piled along the side of the road can cover surface hazards like: 

  • Open sewer grates

  • Curbs

  • Roadside rain gullies

  • Debris

Piles of fallen leaves can conceal many surface hazards at intersections, including:

  • Low-profile concrete dividers used for traffic calming

  • Large, slippery preformed thermoplastic lane direction arrows and crosswalk markers

  • Oil and antifreeze spills

  • Broken glass and debris from previous fender benders

Also, be sure to never park your motorcycle near piles of dry leaves. Hot exhaust pipes can cause a fire. Motorcycles that have catalytic converters are at an increased risk due to higher temperatures.

And, please don’t ride through piles of leaves. Remember, a youngster could be playing in them!

Till next time, enjoy the foliage and beware the fallen leaves. Ride safe!

Related links:

Riding in the autumn also means dealing with earlier sunsets. Check out our safety tips for motorcycle riding at night.

Planning a group ride to enjoy the fall colors? Make sure you and your riding buddies can communicate effectively with our guide to motorcycle hand signals.

The general information in this blog is for informational or entertainment purposes only. View our blog disclaimer.

*Data accuracy is subject to this article's publication date.

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