Riding in a strong crosswind on a motorcycle can be hazardous to your health if you are inexperienced, or just not mindful of the dangers. If a windy day gives you pause, maybe enough to even stay home, you can use some skills practice. Here are some things you can do to prepare before you find yourself dangerously dancing against the wind.
The Center of Gravity (CG) on a motorcycle is divided by the top half and the lower half in a line from the front to the back. In a strong wind objects like sleeping bags tied to your Sissy Bar and/or Mama sitting behind you are above the CG and will affect you greatly, while heavier items you put in saddlebags like tools will help hold you to the road because it is below the CG.
Motorcycles all handle a little different in a strong wind, be it a smaller CC bike that will get tossed around like straw because of the lack of weight, or your big ‘ol Harley Hogs and Gold Wings that can own a windy day with little problem because they are heavy and have equipment to help control the side winds effect like the adjustable air vents on the fairing. Close the adjustable air vent on the side the wind is coming from and open the other side, these air vents act like ailerons do on a plane and will help alleviate the side push of the wind.
Riding posture is important. Try this; Sit slightly forward in your chair, feet flat on the floor and hold your arms straight out and locked. Now pretend you have your handlebars in your grip and turn left and then right, notice how your shoulders, back, stomach, and neck do all the work. Now bend your arms and turn left and right, feel the strength and better control you have. Wind doesn’t treat a stiff rider very well, loosen up, but remember to maintain a slight ‘knees squeeze in a breeze’ as you let the bike wander slightly underneath you using all three lane positions if needed.
We all know about counter steering correct? Push right go right. Never is this needed more than when a big wind is pushing on your shoulder. When the wind pushes from the left, you push back even harder on the left grip, when the wind pushes you from the right, you respond with pressure and push on the right grip. This will lean your scooter into the wind and keep you in a straight line, but now do you know how much of that sidewall you can use safely? Practice doing circles in a parking lot to find your safe lean limits, and do quick transitions like a 12 foot cone weave to be ready for that gust of big wind hiding just past that row of trees, you will be glad you did. By knowing the rules of high wind traveling like how to lean and how far you can lean, relaxing and how much to relax, fighting against the wind will be a safe adventure you can win.
ALR Road Captain, AL Omaha Post 1