When To Say No To Riding

Six clues to judge when it’s best to not ride

riding in the rain
Factors that can lead to trouble.Motorcyclist Archives

America is a big, sprawling place, vast enough that no one can cover all of it in a lifetime. It is easy to be thirsty, to want to ride every inch from the blue stone shores of Maine to the wide expanses of Nevada. But sometimes it's best to leave those miles unridden. Everyone has different thresholds for when it's too hot, too cold, or too wet to ride. The same goes for state of mind, your health, and your level of conditioning. When do these variables form enough of a distraction to merit leaving the bike in the garage? When does exposure to riding conditions make the risk greater than the reward? Here's where we might draw the line.

Nasty Weather

Riding in rain is no big deal if you slow down and are adequately prepared. A forecast of torrential downpours or gale-force winds, however, should have you rethinking your ride or reaching for the car keys.

Extreme Heat

Temperatures reaching triple digits can lead to hyperthermia, especially if your skin is exposed to the sun and hot wind. Vented gear and a hydration pack can help, but there's no shame in bagging a ride until the evening when temps have become more manageable.

Chill Factor

Riding in 50 degrees Fahrenheit doesn't sound too bad, but there's a reason cold comes at you so hard on a bike: windchill. Add 65 mph of hair-waving breeze through your gear and exposed parts of you will feel like they're riding through 39-degree weather. The longer you're exposed, the greater the likelihood of hypothermia. Bottom line, if you're going to ride in the cold, dress the part.

State of Mind

Moto therapy can do wonders for a person’s mood, but swinging a leg over the saddle when you’re irate can skew otherwise good judgment. Pent-up anger, disappointment, or frustration can be enough of a distraction to delay decisions and fuel foolish behavior.


Sometimes your body just isn’t up to the task of operating a motorcycle. This is often the case when you’re really tired, recovering from illness or injury, or when other medical issues arise. Keep your key pocketed if recovery includes strong meds.

High Risk, Low Reward

It’s easier to accept the risk of riding a motorcycle when the reward outweighs the risk. If your commute is a perilous nightmare, then you may want to reserve your two-wheeled outings to the weekends. Sometimes quality trumps quantity.