Tips for Riding Motorcycles in the Rain

Tips for Riding Motorcycles in the Rain

April showers may bring May flowers, but they also put a frown on a lot of rider’s faces.  For most, riding in the rain isn’t that enjoyable and some of you may just skip riding all together until the sun comes back out.  It’s been a long winter, though, and riding time can be a scarce commodity if the rain puts you out of commission.  But fear not, with the right gear, attitude and skills, riding in the rain can be just as enjoyable.

Waterproof Gear

Getting caught in a downpour is never fun, but if you have the right waterproof motorcycle gear, you can continue to ride comfortably and dry (for the most part).  When riding in the rain, it’s important to stay focused on your actions.  If you are constantly fighting to stay dry and warm, your mind is going to wander and you’ll begin to stress more.  Choose the right gear and you’ll be singing in the rain (fortunately your exhaust will muffle that).

If you plan on riding in the rain often, finding gear that is waterproof and breathable is extremely important.  Wearing rain suits that don’t breathe is like wearing a sauna suit.  Your perspiration can’t escape and you might end up just as drenched as if you had no suit at all.  Those kind of rain suits are good quick fixes if you happen to get caught, but waterproof breathable is the way to go.  Products made from Gore-Tex® and similar breathable fabrics have openings that are smaller than water droplets but are big enough for vapor (evaporated sweat) to escape.

Make sure your gloves and boots are waterproof as well.  You can even get boot covers if you don’t want to invest in a new pair of waterproof boots.  It’s also a bonus if your gloves have the little squeegee to clear your helmet’s face shield.

Helmets do tend to fog in rainy conditions.  This can be solved if you have a Pinlock® shield system on your helmet.  The added shield on the inside will create a dual pane effect to eliminate the fogging.  You will also want to keep your helmet vented to the max to let the moisture escape.  Sometimes cracking the shield just a bit can go a long ways.

Avoid Shiny Surfaces

Shiny surfaces are dangerous enough on your bike when it’s dry out, but it’s a whole other story when they become wet.  Anything metal, like railroad tracks and manholes should be avoided when it’s raining.  In addition, anything painted on the road can be very slick as well.  Tiny glass beads are usually added to these painted surfaces to give them a rough texture for grip, but after a while, they wear off and the slippery paint is exposed once again.  Riding on wet road paint can be like trying to ride on ice.

If you do have to cross these surfaces, lower your speed and straighten your bars.  When you hit them straight, you greatly lower the risk of sliding out.

Let the Rain Clean the Road

The pores in roads are giant oil and debris collectors when it is dry out.  Once it rains, all of the oil and debris is brought to the surface again to make for some very slippery patches.  The rain will eventually wash it away, usually about a half hour depending on how hard it is raining. That time can be used for a pit stop, but if you need or want to continue riding, you should extra caution when it first begins to rain.

Choose Your Path Wisely

Unless you are riding a brand new, perfectly built road, water will begin pool up in many areas.  Of course, hitting puddles is not ideal and there are ways to minimize your chances of hitting them.  Most roads are built with a crown in the center.  In other words, the road will slope off to each side of the center.  When you ride near the center of the road, you are not only guarding your lane, but you are also riding in the highest point.

On older and heavily used roads, ruts can be grooved in to where the cars and trucks drive the most.  Those ruts tend to develop puddles of water faster than other areas of the road.  If you have the road to yourself, you can ride near the crown or in the middle of the ruts.  Conversely, when there is other traffic ahead of you, the cars can actually push the water out and even act as a squeegee to get that nasty oil and debris off faster.  Where you ride all depends on how much rain has fallen.

Be Smooth with Your Controls

Any mistakes that you make while riding are greatly exaggerated when the roads are wet and you have less traction.  That means that you need to be on top of your game when using any and all of your controls.  Be smooth when you roll on and off the throttle.  Let that clutch out easy and be smooth on the brakes.  Your body positioning is more critical when it is wet, too.

You may find that riding in the rain will actually make you a better rider.  By learning to control your bike with minimal traction, you will have even more confidence in your abilities on dry surfaces.  Just don’t let your ego get too big and push the limits too far.

So there you have it.  If you follow these tips, riding in the rain can not only be successful, but fun as well.  After all, that’s what it’s all about anyways, isn’t it?

What are your tips for riding in the rain and wet conditions?

Ryan

11 comments

Good tips, but i have a few to add.
Give yourself extra time and distance when stopping in wet conditions, as well as be extra vigilant in scanning cross traffic; cages and their operators come in all size’s. Many drivers of cages have issues seeing motorcycles in the best of conditions, add rain to the mix, we become invisible to those who are older or inattentive, so as always, ride defensively, as if those on four wheels are actively trying to kill your ass.
Don’t trust fellow travelers to see you AT ALL, figure they don’t see you in their mirrors and ride accordingly (i’ve had drivers right next to me, who for whatever reason did not see or hear me and come into my lane.)

Just adding to wild and crazy,,last week alone in beautiful weather,,4 days in a row cars beside me come right into my lane!!..Didn’t even see,,or hear me!..Had to speed up on two occasions to avoid being hit!!..

All good tips. lately i’ve had cars come over the middle lane at me. Three times in the past 500 miles. Has anyone else experienced this?

It says to ride in between the tire tracks of cars and trucks, but this is the spot that most oil is dropped, it is safer to ride on the outsides of these tracks.

Like they said, it depends on how much it has rained. After an hour of rain, I’d much rather ride in the middle of the ruts than on the edge where there is more likely to be road hazards. You are also less likely to be seen when riding on the edge of the lane.

Note: Be careful of the crown in the middle of your lane, water may puddle in the ruts, but the dark color of that crown comes from being saturated with petroleum products and us VERY slick when wet!

I don’t know who wrote this article, but riding on the crown in Florida will get you killed in the rain. If you ever see how dark the crown is, it’s because it is collecting oils and debris, ride in the same path as the car tires. Don’t believe me, ask Mike Narganes who was a Motor instructor and trainer for over 20 years.

Just thought it might be beneficial to add a couple of recommendations as an off-road competitor in the Black Jack Enduro circuit for years. Like previously mentioned use rainX on your windshield but also use it on your glasses / goggles its a very nice product & the rain will blow off those surfaces. Use anti-fog spray on the interior of your glasses / goggles spray it on let it dry for a minute & buff off. Also when the rain is expected, or coming down I keep a golf towel (small) clipped to the inside of my vest, jacket etc. & tucked inside my jacket where I can pull it out to wipe my face, glasses & even windshield if required. Be safe and most importantly just pull off the road in a safe location to wait it out but never on the shoulder as motorcycles become a magnet when sitting on the shoulder.

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