Whatever kind of bike you ride, and no matter what kind of riding you normally do, eventually the rain clouds are going to catch up to you. If you are new to riding, the proposition of riding in the rain may be somewhat intimidating for you. In the following video and article, we hope to give you some pointers for having a safe two wheeled journey through less than ideal weather conditions.
1) Relax! Being tense on the bike will only make you feel less in control. It is natural for a bike to wander a little and react to the road surfaces you ride over. Don’t become overly sensitive to how the bike reacts underneath you just because it’s raining. Your motorcycle naturally wants to stay upright on two wheels at speed, so relax, stay loose, and enjoy the ride!
2) Be Smooth! One of the primary reasons for loss of control on a bike is not being smooth. This is especially true in wet conditions, where traction is limited. Be smooth on the brakes and smooth rolling onto the throttle. It is a good idea to avoid abrupt inputs on the handlebars, too. When you have a jerky, sudden reaction to something, you are very quickly going to overwhelm the available traction that you have with your tires and the wet road. Once a skid is introduced, even if you are skilled enough to handle it, you are losing precious time while you recover. It is much better to smoothly apply your input, and build up to the level of input you need.
3) Practice! You won’t know how your bike will feel in the rain until you get out there and experience it for yourself. Find a less populated area and go for a ride. Big empty parking lots are a great place to practice some braking drills. Don’t be afraid to practice some panic stops, after all, you don’t want your very first panic stop ever to be the real thing!
4) Ride like you are invisible. You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s especially true during inclement weather. Drivers around you will have limited visibility due to fog, road spray, and rain, not to mention their own windows being covered in water. At the same time, you will have a harder time seeing out of your helmet then you would if it were dry. There are many anti-fog helmet products out there, including sprays and the increasingly popular pinlock insert. Of course wearing hi-viz motorcycle gear or a hi-viz rain suit can also go a long way towards having other drivers notice you.
5) Constantly scan the road surface. There are plenty of road hazards to be aware of in the dry, and when it has been raining, these hazards increase significantly. Things like painted lines, railroad crossings, and manhole covers all become treacherously slick when wet. Standing water can completely hide potholes, leaked oil or diesel fuel are also among some of the more hazardous things you can ride over. Always assume you have very little traction when the road is wet. I will occasionally even try a little extra acceleration or rear brake, just to see how much traction there actually is – only do this if you are comfortable with actually breaking traction though!
6) Slow down. When riding over anything with questionable traction, it is a good idea to slow down and keep the bike as upright as possible. It’s not a big deal to ride over railroad tracks or a manhole cover in a straight line, but take a corner at speed and hit something slick while leaned over – and you could be on the ground before you know what happened. Be mindful of brick surfaces as well, which are sometimes used for crosswalks at intersections where you may very well need to take a turn – they can be very slick when wet.
7) Wear good motorcycle gear. Good quality waterproof motorcycle gear is essential to staying comfortable when the rain comes down. Not only will good gear keep you warm and dry, it will also protect you if the worst happens and you come off your bike. Many items are listed as waterproof, such as waterproof motorcycle jackets, waterproof motorcycle boots, and waterproof motorcycle gloves. In our experience, it never hurts to add a motorcycle rain suit to any of the above, as it provides an initial layer of protection that will ultimately do a better job keeping you dry during a wet, rainy ride.
Check out Weekly Rides with Reuben #33, to see what it’s really like!
We hope you found these pointers helpful. If you have a story to relate about riding in the rain, or any additional tips for our readers, feel free to join the discussion in the comment section below!