ThrottleX Blog

Riding a motorcycle in the rain: 10 tips

There are essentially two types of riders. No, I’m not talking about cruisers and sportbikes, I’m talking about those who love to ride and those who live to ride. For the latter, the need to be on a motorcycle isn’t limited to sunny summer days. And the truth is, riding a motorcycle in the rain can be enjoyable if you do it right. Here are 10 tips on to keep your rolling through the wet:

1) Learn to like coffee
Remember high school science? What are two things that don’t mix? Yep, oil and water. When the latter starts falling from the sky, seek shelter for a few minutes: hit up the nearest coffee shop or diner. Roads are slickest when it first starts to rain. After about 15 minutes a lot of the oil will wash away and your tires will be less likely to slip.

2) Wear the gear
Let’s not get into a helmet debate. I’m just saying this: ever been hit by hail at 60 mph? It hurts! Rain drops, too, can deliver a hefty sting. Getting beat up by Mother Nature is distracting and can negatively affect your riding. Even if you don’t wear them any other time, a helmet, gloves and durable clothing are invaluable in the elements. The same is true of rain-specific clothing. Especially rain pants. Water runs down gas tanks to the space between your legs. Believe me, that is not fun! Things only get worse as you ride on, because being wet will make you cold and distracted.

3) Be seen
Other road users are the biggest threat when riding a motorcycle in the rain. Drivers become confused or flustered by wet conditions. If you’re smart enough to wear rain gear, be smart enough to wear visible gear. Reflective strips, DayGlo, whatever. No, you will not look cool. But sometimes you have to put your ego aside. Your bike should be visible, too. Make sure your headlight/running lights are on and that you are using your signals well in advance of turns and lane changes.

4) See
Just as much as you want people to see you, you want to see them. Look as far ahead as you can, and constantly check your mirrors and blind spots. In England (where they know about riding in the rain) advanced riding instructors suggest doing mirror/blind spot checks every 8 seconds.

5) Do the thinking for everyone
The most useful piece of safety gear can be found in the space between your ears. Use it to anticipate how drivers around you will respond to given situations. Do not ride with an expectation of being seen or your actions being understood. Do not expect other road users to adhere to the rules. Don’t focus on what people should do but instead what they will do.

6) Take the middle ground
When it comes to lane position, many riders prefer the tire tracks of cars, thinking the lane’s middle section will have oil dripped from engines. Increasingly, this thinking is outdated. It may still be true at intersections but on longer stretches, the middle of a lane is often the best place to be. Modern cars and trucks simply don’t leak fluids like they did a few decades ago. And heat from engines helps dry that part of the road more quickly. Additionally, if a road has not been resurfaced in a while cars’ tires may have worn it down. This can mean tire tracks are slicker than the middle of a lane, that they are more inclined to hold pools of water, and they are more broken up.

7) Be steady
No pun intended: in the rain your riding should be fluid. Focus on keeping everything steady. Don’t make sudden lane changes and don’t get wrapped up trying to avoid slick surfaces like paint in the road or manhole covers. Modern tires provide better grip than the rubber our parents rode on, so it is often wiser to ride steadily over obstacles rather than veer wildly to miss them.

8) Be ready
In addition to keeping track of everything that’s around you and thinking about what those things might do, make sure you’re ready to respond. Part of this is mental, of course, but part of it is physical; be ready to act. If you are riding in busy traffic, cover your front brake. And I know some guys will argue with me on this, but when it’s raining your feet should never be up on highway pegs.

9) Be cool
Being angry will not make you dry. Your middle finger will not stop a car from hitting you. In the rain you’ll see a lot of people doing a lot of stupid things and it can be easy to lose your temper, but now is not the time. Keep looking, keep thinking, keep making good decisions and you’ll keep riding.

10) Ride Your Own Ride
This is the Golden Rule of motorcycling. No matter where you are, no matter who you’re with, no matter what the weather is like. Always ride within your abilities and comfort level. In the rain this becomes even more true. Don’t worry about what others are doing or would do. This is your ride. Make it safe, make it comfortable and enjoy it.

Posted by admin at 8:39 pm

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