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Staying Safe on the Open Road

At Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles, we’re all about providing our customers in the Odessa area the motorcycles, dirt bikes, and off-road vehicles needed to enjoy life on or off the road. The summer months are prime time for riding, and we want to ensure that riders of all experience levels enjoy these days while staying safe. For all of your motorcycle, parts, and service needs, come to Ruhnke’s, and take the day by storm.

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Gearing Up for Summer Riding

Given the option, we’re fairly certain that most riders wouldn’t choose to go for a long, long ride in the oppressive summer heat. However, sometimes the Point B to your Point A is on the other side of a long stretch of highway that goes straight through the desert. The uneducated rider could be tempted to shed layers to combat the scorching heat, compromising their safety in the process. Let us submit to you that there is a better way, and with a little research and ponying up some cash, you can have appropriate riding attire that will keep you both safe and cool for the long haul.

Get the Right Gear

Unless your riding jacket is purely ornamental, most modern riding jackets come with zippered vents in the front and the back to facilitate airflow. With this simple feature, the combined elements of your forward momentum and the ventilation of your jacket can do wonders when it comes to keeping cool, or at least not becoming a sweaty mess. 

To achieve maximum cool, most riders recommend wearing a mesh jacket. Many mesh riding jackets feature large areas where airflow can whip right through, keeping you cool. You should be careful though — too much mesh creates a mighty mess in the event of a wreck. You don’t want mesh material to be on a part of your body that may come into contact with the road in the event of a crash because it’s basically like wearing nothing. 

You may also find that there are some options for riding pants that feature vents and mesh material as well. The same rule applies, however — mesh is great for airflow, but be careful not to go nuts with it, because your protection could be compromised. 

Another great piece of riding gear that you should keep stowed away for a sunny day is a “cool vest.” Contrary to how it sounds, this is not a vest that makes you look super cool. It’s a cool vest in the most literal sense of the word. These vests are designed to be soaked in and absorb water, wrung out to get rid of excess moisture, and then worn under a vented jacket. The moisture that is trapped inside the vest evaporates over time, resulting in a natural cooling effect. It’s the same reason that your body sweats — evaporating moisture causing cooling, and these vests keep this going for hours at a time. 

Most helmets nowadays are designed to admit some level of ventilation. Check with the manufacturer of your helmet to see how they accounted for ventilation before committing to a particular design. Some helmets let in so much air that it’s like riding into a leaf blower, while others are so stifling that it’s like riding in a fishbowl. Many times, the size of your head and the placement of the helmet can affect the level of ventilation you’re able to achieve, so consider that when helmet shopping as well. 

Choose the Right Ride

The windscreen on your bike can make or break your experience when you’re riding in the heat. If you live in a locale where it’s regularly very hot, having a big ol’ windscreen can put a damper on the effectiveness of your ventilated riding gear. Sure, the added protection from the wind can be great when you’re in a temperate or cool environment, but when you’re riding straight into the Devil’s breath, that windscreen will bypass any hope of cooling airflow.

It’s not practical to have a “summer bike” and a “winter bike” for most riders, so it’s helpful to consider your climate when you’re making a bike purchase. Choose a motorcycle that isn’t going to be a constant hindrance to your health and comfort when you ride it. 

Hydrate or Die

Excessive heat makes you sweat, and the more profusely you sweat, the faster you’re losing precious moisture. Perhaps the most vital defense you can have for yourself, even more than fancy ventilated jackets, is to stay hydrated. 

When you’re dehydrated, you can start experiencing negative symptoms that range from minor to severe and can be catastrophic while riding a motorcycle. You know you’re dehydrated when you have a dry mouth, a headache, or start experiencing high levels of fatigue or dizziness. It’s safe to say that you don’t want to be in a position where you’re sleepy and dizzy while careening down the highway — that’s a recipe for disaster. 

Pushing yourself to your limit and then chugging a gallon of water isn’t the best solution for this problem either. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, and you’ve waited too long to get a drink. Many riders recommend that, for extended rides through hot areas, you should invest in a wearable water bladder or backpack that you can wear over your jacket with a handy tube that stays clipped in place. This allows you to regularly sip as you ride, counteracting becoming dehydrated and avoiding the literal headache.  

It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway — caffeine drinks like soda and coffee, while they may help with staying alert, do very little to keep you hydrated. Water is the most important thing that you should be consuming to stay healthy and alert while riding.

MAKE SURE YOUR BIKE IS GOOD TO GO WITH RUHNKE’S

In the end, you really should be riding in the summer heat with a load of common sense. If you know it’s going to be hotter than the sun during a particular ride, get an early start and maybe find a nice place to stop for a bit during the hottest part of the day. Before you head out, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend that you ensure all of the components of your bike are in proper working order. If you need a fix or a part replaced, your team at Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles has you covered. Contact us before your summer ride!

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9 Safety Checks Before Your Summer Ride

You shouldn’t wait until you’re in motion to recall all of the ways that you should be taking safety into account on your motorcycle. Let’s start off with six basic things you should run through a mental checklist before you set out:

Make Sure You’re Riding the Right Bike

This might sound like a no-brainer, but the fact of the matter is that many bikers out there are riding a make or model of bike that they have no business riding. It’s very important to ride something that suits you, rather than just choosing a bike based on looks. Do you see many NBA players driving around in Mini Coopers? What about sweet little grandmas driving a Hummer? Being able to safely control your motorcycle is not something you should take lightly, and if your bike isn’t right for you, it’s time to make a switch. Here are some things to consider to determine if your bike is right for you:

  • Overall bike power
  • Bike weight
  • Power-to-weight ratio
  • Your personal comfort level
  • Wear a Full-Face Helmet

You should always ride with a full-face coverage helmet, including a face shield or some form of adequate eye protection. You may be tempted to skip wearing your helmet if you’re just going out for a short errand, but let us remind you — a large percentage of accidents that involve motorcycles occur at slow speeds in-town. Even going 20 mph can do some serious damage to an unprotected head when it hits… well, anything really. It’s also worth mentioning that almost a fifth of all motorcycle helmet impacts occur on the chin of the helmet, so it is actually important to don the full-face helmet. You’ll be thanking us when you have a messed up helmet but an intact jaw.

Protective Gear is a Must

The human body is just simply not equipped to handle an impact on roadways, especially at higher speeds. With that reality in mind, it’s important to always wear protective gear. This includes riding boots that cover your ankles, a protective jacket that is abrasion-resistant, long pants or jeans, gloves, and as mentioned earlier, a full-face helmet. You may find yourself wondering if you’re ever going to actually need all of this protective gear — and ideally, you won’t — but you’ll be very grateful you made the investment in your safety should the worst happen when you’re out for a ride this summer. To combat the heat, there are also vented helmets and riding jackets available that still provide an adequate level of protection

Be Aware of the Weather

Before going on a longer ride, you should always double-check the weather along your route. The last thing you want to happen is to be caught in the middle of a severe thunderstorm while on your bike. Dangerous weather can impede your ability to ride safely, and put yourself and other motorists on the road at risk. If you see dangerous-looking clouds on the horizon, re-route and plan accordingly, or better yet, wait out the weather in a safe environment. 

Only Ride Sober

When riding a bike, hand-eye coordination is being used practically all the time. When your ability to operate a vehicle is impaired even a little bit by the consumption of alcohol or drugs, you are immediately raising your chances of being involved in a collision. It should also go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway — riding a motorcycle under the influence or while impaired is illegal

Be Well-Rested

Long hours on the open road, while exhilarating, can also be exhausting. As soon as you feel your mental capacity to ride beginning to flag, it’s important to call it quits for the day. Riding while overtired can be just as dangerous as riding under the influence, so it’s something that you need to take very seriously. Some ways to help yourself stay alert include remaining hydrated, getting plenty of sleep the night before a ride, and taking the time to stop for breaks when you need to, even if it’s just for a 15-minute power nap.

3 TIPS FOR WHEN IT’S TIME TO RIDE

So you’re all prepared and ready to get on your bike, right? Wrong! Before you take off, take just a few seconds to perform a quick safety check of the motorcycle itself.

Check Basic Motorcycle Status

Take a moment to ensure that your taillights are functioning, your tire pressure is where it needs to be according to your bike, and double-check that you’re topped up on all essential engine fluids. Doing this on a regular basis will reduce the chances of getting yourself into trouble with other motorists or with highway patrolmen.

On-Bike Safety Checklist

When you first sat on your motorcycle, you experimented with every facet of how it is set up for riding. Periodically, you should do this again. Here are some of the most common things to think about adjusting:

  • Check the suspension
  • Adjust mirrors
  • Seating configuration
  • Check clutch and brake levers

Ride Defensively

As nice as it would be to never have to worry about how visible you are on a motorcycle, that just isn’t the reality on the road. You always need to ride like you are invisible to other motorists. In all reality, because of the size of most motorcycles, you are invisible, since it’s easy to find yourself in another driver’s blind spot. Do your best to anticipate the actions of others on the highway, and always assume that drivers cannot see you

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FOR ALL OF YOUR SUMMER MOTORCYCLE NEEDS, TRUST RUHNKE’S XTREME CYCLES

We hope that this crash course in summer motorcycle safety has you excited to hit the highway! If there is anything you need to enhance your motorcycle experience this season, you can trust the experts at Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles. Contact us today with any questions you may have, and to browse our inventory of motorcycles, trailers, off-road equipment, and much more!

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How to Stay Cool This Summer

Clear summer skies can be the opportune time to fire up the bike and go for a long ride. Those sunny days can be deceptive, however, as rising temperatures can take their toll on your body, putting you at risk for injury or worse. With that in mind, here are 8 tips that we at Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles have put together to keep you riding with your head held high, even in the middle of August.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER (ALL THE TIME)

If you’re riding and you start feeling thirsty, guess what — you’re already dehydrated. The best way to avoid dehydration and the side effects that go along with it is to drink water in smaller amounts regularly. There are some fantastic products available at your local motorcycle store, such as water-storing backpacks that feature a tube-like straw that you can fasten to your coat for easy access. Remember, dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, and that’s not a condition you want to find yourself in while you’re trying to ride a motorcycle down the highway

SKIP THE CAFFEINE 

While the scientific aspects of the effects of caffeine on your hydration levels are often debated, it’s generally accepted that consuming a lot of the drug in coffee or sodas can leave you feeling thirstier than if you’d just been faithful with drinking lots of water. The boost to your alertness levels after drinking caffeine may help for a while, but in the long run, drinking water is going to help keep your body in a much healthier state than soda or coffee ever could. It should also be obvious, but whatever you do, don’t drink alcohol before or during a ride. Even consuming too much alcohol when the day is done can leave you dehydrated and hungover the next day, starting off on the wrong foot

AIR OUT

When your body sweats, it’s trying to cool itself through the natural effect of evaporation. Your body is able to take the fullest advantage of this natural process when you allow for adequate ventilation. There are great riding jackets, pants, and helmet options available with vents to facilitate airflow. You’ll be thanking yourself when you don’t feel like a wrapped up Christmas ham in the summer sun

RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO
WEAR LESS

When it’s a scorcher, your first reaction may be to decrease the amount of protective gear you wear — we cannot recommend this! Your safety should be your first priority. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t stay cool and also be fully covered. Once again, we’ll point you towards nicely meshed, full-coverage protective wear

USE THE SCIENCE OF EVAPORATION

You can use modern apparel to enhance your body’s natural cooling system. Evaporative articles of clothing, like cooling vests and cooling neck-wraps, are often filled with water-absorbing materials that super-charge the positive effects of sweating (staying cool) without getting drenched.

PLAN ACCORDINGLY

If you’re looking at the weather forecast and you know that where you’re riding is supposed to be like an oven between noon and 5 pm, do yourself a favor and get an early start. Avoid riding during the hottest part of the day by doing some sight-seeing, catching a movie, or just taking an extended afternoon siesta.

DON’T PUSH YOURSELF TOO HARD

When it’s a billion degrees in the shade, there’s no shame in taking breaks more often during your ride. If you haven’t invested in a hydrating water pack, frequent stops and breaks will allow you to get some much-need hydration and give your body a chance to relax, get some blood flowing, and stretch. Additionally, use some common sense! Listen to what your body is telling you, and if that means that a big, tough guy like you needs to take a day off, take a day off. Find a watering hole, see some local sites, expand your knowledge of regional ice cream parlors. That’s a much better solution than getting heat exhaustion.

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Ruhnke’s Xtreme Cycles is Your Summer Riding Resource

We’ve enjoyed countless hours and endless days riding together on the roads across America, so we understand the spirit of and the joy of the journey. Ruhnke’s is committed to providing you with all of the motorcycles, parts, and services that you need to travel safely and in style. For over a decade, we’ve served Odessa and the surrounding community in Texas with quality rides for both the highway and the unmarked path. Before you set out on your summer cruise, make sure your cycle is in tip-top condition by contacting us today! See you out on the road.

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