Q

What should I do if I hit a patch of black ice while out on my motorcycle?

A

Black ice is a serious winter hazard, especially for motorcyclists. It develops when the roads are wet and the temperature of the pavement is below freezing, often at night or in the early morning. Black ice is nearly impossible to see until you are sliding across the top of it.

Imagine that you are riding down Genoa Street in Cherry Valley and hit a patch of black ice. The following tips will help to keep you safe:

  • Remain calm, steering straight ahead while your bike passes over the ice. If possible, do not accelerate, turn, or brake until you reach dry pavement.
  • Depending on conditions, it may make sense to ease your way to the shoulder where fresh snow, sand, dirt, and road debris may provide some traction.
  • If you have to turn, remain as upright as possible. Leaning into a turn requires lateral traction—something you do not have when road conditions are icy.
  • If you have to brake, use your rear brakes so that your front wheel will continue rolling and connecting with the pavement.

You may also wish to mount a studded tire in front to maximize steering traction when it is icy outside. While it does not help much in deep snow, it provides a great deal of traction on ice or hard-pack snow.

Always check the weather forecast before you ride and be sure to follow the tips listed above if you hit a patch of black ice on your bike this winter.

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