Riding In The Rain

Riding In The Rain

Posted by Mike Werner on Sep 19th 2016

Riding motorcycle can be dangerous at any time, but when it rains, the danger level increases. For the biker the danger is to keep control of the motorcycle when it becomes slippery and for the rest of the traffic, the danger towards the biker is that cars may hit a bike because the rain has made it difficult to see smaller objects on the road. You can already see the scenario with heavy rain and fogged up windows in a car.
The other thing not many bikers think about is the “comfort” level. When it rains and you do not have proper rainproof gear, you will become wet (and possibly cold), and that means your concentration levels will diminish.
Here are 15 tips to consider when riding in the rain:
1. Rain gear. Wear proper rain gear that repels rain and does not let it through. Gore-tex, leather or even plastic overcoats will do the trick (like in the photo below).

2. Fluorescent. Have high visibility rainproof clothes, even just a hi-viz yellow or orange stripe will increase the odds that a car or truck driver will see you during the rain. Here is an example:

NOTE: You need to ensure you have got the right raingear. Here is a video explaining to you the how and the why. Have a look:
3. Tires. Make sure your tires are adapted for riding in the wet. If you are riding a sportsbike and you have got slicks, don’t go out in the rain.
4. Watch The Road. Normally during dry weather, metal plates (like manhole covers) and white road line can be a bit slippery. But when it rains, they become an ice-skate rink. When you end up riding on, for example, a white line, try not to hit the brakes. This also apples when you are stopping and putting your feet down on the ground. If there is a white line or metal plate your feet might slip away.
5. Rail/Tram Lines. Like above, metal on the road is never a good sign, and when it rains it is worse. Tram or railway lines are very slippery. If you need to go over them make sure your bike is straight and not at an angle.

6. Puddles. If there is a puddle in front, avoid it. You never know how deep the puddle is. What if the puddle is there because there is a 2 feet deep pothole?
7. Rainbows. A rainbow is nice, but if the rainbow is on the water there is no pot of gold at the other side. It means that there is oil on the road and the road has become even slipperier.

8. First Rain. If there has been a dry spell and it just started raining, watch out. Dry roads that become wet will for the first few hours become even more slippery. Oil, gasoline and dirt come to the surface making the roads slippery. If at all possible, let it rain for an hour or two before heading out. This way there’s only water on the road. The rest has washed away.
9. Front versus Rear brakes. It’s a hot discussion topic on many forums, but hitting more than usual the rear brake than the front will result in a more stable bike. Hitting more the front brake can result in the front slipping away, a bit like braking on gravel. Pressing the rear more will result in the rear moving sideways, but that is easier to control. And if you need to hit the brakes, keep the front lined up straight.
10. Pump the Brakes. When you need to hit the brakes, do NOT pull it at full power, unless you are equipped with ABS (and even then it’s not advisable). Pump the brakes gently and avoid locking the wheels. Locked wheels will result in aquaplaning and you’ll not be able to control the bike after that.
11. Space. Stay way behind other vehicles on the road in front of you. If a car needs to hit the brakes in an emergency, you do not want to be close behind it. Keep your distance. If some car is too close behind, try to get it to back off by using gestures. Do NOT hit the brakes (brake test).
12. Relax. Keep your calm and take it easy. Don’t cramp or tense up. Keep cool, relax and ride gently.
13. Speed. There is a good reason even professional motorcycle racers slow down during the rain. Reduce your speed. In several countries in the world, the law makes you slow down during the rain. So do it naturally. Slow down 10 to 20% of your normal speed.
14. Helmet Visor. Spray a product like Rain-X on your visor to reduce the amount of water that stays on your visor. Or get gloves with built-in wipers. You need to make sure your vision is close to 100%.
15. Lighting. When you talk about rain, often it can mean lighting. If there is lighting, your danger level has just increased many folds. Head for cover, but not under a tree. Bridges are usually the safest.
So if you are caught in a rainstorm, or knowingly go out in one, just relax. As a final tip, if you live in an area where there is rain, keep light rain gear stashed away in a saddlebag or other storage area.
And remember, after any rain is always sunshine.