It’s September, the clocks have gone back and the evenings are getting darker. If you’re a new rider, riding in less than perfect conditions can be a bit daunting, but don’t be put off. Riding in autumn just takes a slightly different attitude and a few tips to make the drop in temperature and the darker evenings more fun.
Here’s our quick guide to riding through autumn and making the most of riding when the weather starts getting a bit cooler.
Check and readjust your tyre pressures
Okay, so we should do that every ride but the truth is that most of us don’t. The drop in outside temperature, and therefore the coldness of the air in your tyres means you could be surprised how low your tyre pressures are a summer’s fun. Always check your tyre pressures from cold according to the manufacturer's settings. That means check them before you ride off, not at the petrol station after a couple of miles when they will have some heat in the tyre. And it goes without saying, if you're tyres are bald then get them replaced or it will cost you more money in the long run.
Wearing the right kit may sound obvious but you'll be amazed how many new riders we see without the right kit on. Layer up, get a neck warmer, wear some good winter gloves and make sure any exposed skin is covered up. Being cold causes a lack of concentration which can lead to crashes.
Give your tyres more time to warm-up
Tyre technology and heat-up time has improved hugely in the last ten years, but tyres still need some care. To grip properly, tyres require heat and the colder the road surface, the longer it takes for them to start gripping properly. The golden rule is take your time and don’t go rushing into bends until you’re sure they’re warm. In autumn and winter, at least five mile under your belt is a rough rule.
Watch out for leaves
Summer may have only just disappeared but already the trees are dropping leaves. Just leave an extra margin for error when you approach the next bend, just in case the Oak Tree has left you a few extra surprises on the apex ready to take out your front tyre.
Adjust your headlight beam.
Dazzling on-coming car drivers, or even worse, having a dip beam that’s just in front of your front wheel only adds to the extra drama your brain doesn’t need when you’re riding at night and it only takes a few minutes with the screwdrivers.
Animals go crazy in winter
Dark evenings mean greater risk of animals running across your path on back roads as they get confused by car and bike lights. Trust me, hitting a deer is one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had on a bike even though thankfully I survived. Foxes and badgers are normally solitary, but if you see a deer run out, slow down rapidly and be prepared for a few more to follow.
Pack some spare bulbs
A headlight or tail light bulb blowing on a July evening is one thing, if it goes on your way home in late September you’re going to know about it. Leaving them wrapped up in a sock or a spare helmet bag under the seat means they’re always with you.
Replace your visor
Those scratches on your visor might be annoying in the day time, but at night they could leave you looking through the biking equivalent of a kaleidoscope. If you’re visor’s scratched then buy a new one! Scratched visors confusing riders are one of the biggest risks of riding at night, and for less than £50 even for the most expensive helmet brands, you’ll be seeing clearly again.
We realise this is just the start, if you’ve got any more tips for new riders? Let us know by adding your tips to the comments below.