Ride like the Wind – Tips for Riding in a Crosswind
I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 10 years now. I’ve read all kinds of tips for how to be a better and safer rider. Recently, I realized that in all these years there is one thing I’ve seen with my riding as a problem but never actually looked for a solution.
This past October, on a warm day in the northeast, I decided to take a beach ride on a scenic piece of road that skirts the Atlantic Ocean on one side and a bay on the other. To get there, you have to travel over a high bridge. I’ve never been a fan of riding bridges, but when you add a strong crosswind to the equation, it’s not my favorite way to spend a few minutes.
On the way home I hit the mother of all crosswinds at the peak of the bridge. I did my usual drill, grip the heck out of the grips (wrong), slow down my speed (wrong again!).
So this doesn’t freak me again in the future and to help you, I have done some research. Here are the results to safe riding in a crosswind.
While my inclination has been always to slow down, the opposite is actually true. It’s all about the engineering of your bike, and it’s called gyroscopic force. In calm winds, you can usually take your hands off the handlebars for a moment and maintain a straight line. The gyroscopic force of the wheels is what makes your bike want to stay on a straight line. In a crosswind, this force can be your friend. To bring the full benefit of the motorcycles gyroscopic force you should maintain a decent speed and not slow down too much. Hang in there at around 55mph on a highway and stability will remain high.
Don’t hang on for your dear life
I mentioned the old death grip. It might make you feel better, but it only hurts. If the crosswind is moving your upper body, a tight grip or stiff arming can effect in a negative way the movement you need for your proper steering.
Reduce your footprint
Finally, something I have done right! In the wind if you crouch down or use your windshield to reduce as much as your body profile as possible you will cut the bike's center of gravity, making you and the bike more aerodynamic.
Use your pegs
When you sit upright weighting the peg on the side that the bike is facing the wind will cause it turn toward that direction. This will counter the force of the wind that is trying to turn it the opposite direction.
Don’t forget to take your luggage and other necessary things along with you.
Hope these tips have been helpful. I’m ready for a good crosswind!!