It goes without saying, but tires are important. Looking after them is one thing, but keeping them from slipping on the road is another. These rings of rubber that wrap around your wheels keep you and your bike firmly planted on the ground.
However, given bad riding conditions, habits, or a mix of both, you can sometimes lose traction, which is precious considering that only about the surface area of a credit card is in contact with the road at all times.
Check your tires
First and foremost, it is most important to make sure that your tires are in good condition. Do not go out on a ride and risk your life if you have a tire that is severely worn. If it is underinflated, make sure that you can get it to a gas station, or make sure you have a pump on hand to bring it back up to normal air pressure.
On top of that, you want to keep the air in, so make sure to inspect for punctures and leaks before you go out on a ride. If you do spot a puncture, be sure to plug it up with a tire patch or plug kit, or get new tires. If you’re running tubed tires, be sure to replace the tube once it goes bad.
It also helps to get a grippier set of rubber so choose your own tires carefully. Make sure that you will be getting the best possible match to your motorcycle by getting the right size and getting the right brand and model of tire to go with your riding style. For most people, a good set of all-road tires will be optimal, just make sure to get the right size and a trustworthy brand. Typically sportbikes and standard motorcycles will come with a set of road tires. Things get a bit trickier with off-road tires. These types will perform worse on asphalt, but better on dirt. You’ll typically find these types of tires on dual-sport, or adventure motorcycles.
Road surfaces can be imperfect, but you can choose where to ride on anyway. Keep a clear head when you ride and watch the road. Remember, you only have about a credit card-sized patch of rubber in contact with the road, so make sure that you are making the most out of it all the time.
Ride carefully on uneven road surfaces, especially those with bumps and potholes. Be on the lookout for speed humps because the last thing you want is to lose all of your traction because you’re in the air.
Also, keep away from other hazardous road surfaces like mud or loose gravel. These surfaces will definitely cause your tire to slip if you’re going a little too fast. Beware of oil slicks or animal dung because once run over, you may experience one heck of a slide.
Keep traction and ABS on
For the motorcycles with these two safety features, keep them on and don’t turn them off. If you want to keep the traction of your bike in check while accelerating or while braking, these systems must be armed while you’re riding just in case you need to make an emergency stop or you accidentally twist the throttle a little too eagerly.
These systems will detect wheel slippage and a loss of traction regardless of the road surface. As long as a wheel or tire is slipping, the systems on your motorcycle can possibly save you from a crash.
Roll along smoothly
Especially in more powerful motorcycles, do not jerk the throttle and do not make sudden inputs. Make sure that you use a soft touch on your accelerator all the time. Practice this while the bike is parked. Roll on the throttle smoothly and consistently so you don’t pop the front wheel up or do a little burnout with your back tire.
The same can be said for the brakes. Do not abruptly pull the front or stomp on the rear brake lever as doing so will cause your wheels to lock up. While on a ride, if you do sense that there will be danger incoming or if you believe that you will need to slow down, make sure that you pre-load the lever or at least cover the brake levers so you can anticipate the obstruction on the road. Whenever you’re making an emergency stop, make sure that you’re engaging both front and rear brakes for maximum stopping power. While you can use the front brake only, it certainly helps to have two wheels sharing the braking load.
Anticipate and ride safe
The key to keeping your traction is to ride within your limits and within the limits of your motorcycle. Consider all the conditions during your ride and look far ahead so you can anticipate any danger that may come your way.
See, losing traction in most instances may be because a rider gets a little overzealous with the accelerator in less than ideal circumstances, or it can be brought about by an emergency situation. Either way, always anticipate and be aware of your surroundings, and you should keep both wheels in touch with the road.