Sure, you've heard about the usual riding risks — bad weather, serpentine streets, and inattentive motorists. But for every well-worn peril that riders take to heart, there's also the lesser-known hazards of bugs and insects.
motorcycles and bugs: common types of insects bikers can face
Wind in your hair, sun on your shoulders … bugs in your mug? This isn't the fantasy you conjured when thinking about buying a motorcycle. But unfortunately, certain insects simply come with the territory:
- Lovebugs: attracted to the smell of exhaust
- Butterflies: attracted to yellow reflector lights on the highway
- Moths: attracted to headlights
- Bees/hornets/wasps: prone to nest in and around motorcycles
- Spiders: known to build webs inside motorcycle machinery and riding gear
how insects pose a threat to motorcycle riders
Bugs are everywhere on the open road. But in a car, tucked safely behind a vast windshield, you probably don't notice or care about an errant splatter. This isn't the case when you're on your chopper, exposed. If you've never ridden before, it's important to know about the nuisances you might be pestered with.
The aforementioned splatter of a fat horsefly or June bug on your helmet's face shield can take up major real estate in your field of vision. All it takes is one smashed bug to obscure important road signs, potholes, or other motorists from view.
Hard-shelled bugs colliding with any exposed areas of your face and neck at high speeds can also be an issue. While the sheer force will almost never be strong enough to cause serious or fatal injuries on its own (though it is remotely possible), it could hurt enough to distract you, potentially sending you into a dangerous situation.
Finally, there's the issue of creepy crawlers living on your bike. The nooks and crannies of your bike's machinery as well as the open space inside a dangling helmet make inviting nests. It's not unheard of for, say, a spider to start moving around inside your helmet, pant leg, or jacket sleeve during your ride — which, needless to say, takes nerves of steel to ignore.
how to prevent and defend against bug hazards
There's no air traffic controller in the bug world, no one guiding them to safe air space. So, sadly, it's impossible to prevent them from flying into your path. Your best defense is to wear a full-face helmet to keep insects out of your eyes and mouth.
Also, though it may sound obvious, always keep bugs in the back of your mind, especially when riding in forests, fields, swamps, or other areas with a high concentration of insects. By expecting bugs, you can remain cool and pull over if your vision is obscured or you hit a particularly heavy swarm.
When it comes to bugs that live on your bike, prevention is a little easier. Generally, it's just a matter of diligence. Even though it takes a little extra time, do a thorough sweep of your bike and helmet for webs and nests before each ride.
And once you've completed a ride, you should clean the motorcycle of dead insects — the remains of some, such as the lovebug (common in the southeastern U.S.), can wreck your bike's paint or even overheat the radiator if left for too long. It's smart to add some bug-removal spray and a microfiber cloth to your basic motorcycle kit, too.
ride safe, not scared
Brushing up on the dangers of bugs to motorcyclists isn't meant to cause undue alarm or discourage you from riding. The exact opposite — fact is, nothing can enhance your time on the open road like knowing you're prepared for whatever comes your way.
Of course, for the ultimate peace of mind, look no further than motorcycle insurance. Start a free quote to tailor coverage options to your riding lifestyle so you can take to the wind on your bike (no matter what's flying the opposite direction).
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