What type of motorcycle is better for riding in windy weather conditions?
One of the great debates about riding in the wind is what type of motorcycle will ride the best in those conditions. What would you choose if you had the option to choose from more than one motorcycle type (or perhaps you happen to have a fleet in your garage)? Heavier or lighter? Shorter or taller? Minimal or full fairing? All those options factors into how the motorcycle rides in a windy situation.
Compare a touring bike with a large fairing, saddlebags, and larger highway-capable engine to a standard with a small front fairing and smaller engine. The wind is less likely to push a touring motorcycle around due to its weight. A standard motorcycle would be able to escape the path of the wind more than a taller motorcycle. A motorcycle with a full fairing may channel the wind around the rider with more than a little or no fairing option. So is there one motorcycle that would work better than others? No, not necessarily.
Riding techniques for windy conditions
Wind can come from all directions, and your motorcycle can help alleviate the effects of the wind pushing your motorcycle around the road. Another significant advantage you have while riding is your body positioning. It can counteract the wind’s force on you and your motorcycle, making it less hazardous on a windy day.
Let’s take a look at different scenarios and determine how to ride safely in each:
Riding in a crosswind (the wind comes from the left or right side)
Crosswinds will dramatically affect your riding as they can quickly push you off the road or into another traffic lane with a strong gust. Your frontal area can affect how much the wind can push you. Think of yourself as a sail, and the larger area you have for the wind to contact, the more you will feel its effect.
The best way to handle crosswinds is to loosen your body up (think about relaxing your grip, knees, etc.), and don’t panic when you feel the wind moving your body. Ride behind the windscreen as best as possible. You can also stick a knee out in the direction the crosswind comes from to catch the oncoming wind flowing around the motorcycle. For example, stick your left knee out if the crosswinds come from the left. It produces a sail that will pull your body (and motorcycle) to the left and counteracts the effect of the crosswinds. The same can be said for a crosswind coming from the right. Over time you will learn to judge how far to stick your knee out to counteract the crosswinds.
Beyond sticking your knee out, you can lean the motorcycle in the direction of the crosswind to counteract the effects. It will require a slight pressure on the handlebars in the crosswind direction, but it will have a similar effect to sticking your knee out.
You can also try to counterweight in the direction of the crosswind. For example, with a crosswind coming from the left, you could adjust your sitting position to that side of the seat, which will move your body weight slightly to that side. Apply these three methods to help counteract the crosswind for safer riding!
Riding in a headwind (the wind is coming towards your motorcycle from the front)
Headwinds are a little easier to deal with on a motorcycle than crosswinds. Therefore, they can be less dangerous when riding a motorcycle. The key to minimizing the headwind risk is reducing the frontal area that the wind can push against. It’s best to ride low behind the windscreen and front fairing and tuck your arms and legs close to the motorcycle. Be as streamlined as possible and reduce the friction of the wind against your body. A headwind will slow you down, so be cautious that it doesn’t compromise your safety. If it slows your riding down enough to inhibit smooth traffic flow, you may want to take a break or choose a different route to avoid impeding traffic.
Riding in a tailwind (the wind comes behind your motorcycle)
Tailwinds may be the easiest of the three to ride in as they don’t usually push you around like a crosswind or slow you down as a headwind does. Tailwinds will come from behind the motorcycle and cause you to ride faster than you intend. They are great for gas mileage but require extra stopping distance since they push you forward. You will want to ride in a similar position to a headwind, low and tucked in. Be careful that they don’t cause you to ride too fast for traffic or road conditions, and stay within your comfort zone.
Tips for riding your motorcycle in windy conditions
The wind isn’t the only thing to consider concerning safety while riding. Other factors can aid your ability to ride in the wind or make it more dangerous to ride on a windy day. These are other considerations to be aware of: