Riding in the Rain
Riding a motorcycle in the rain presents unique safety challenges.
Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain
How to Safely Ride in the Rain
If you ride long enough, you are likely going to encounter rainy weather conditions. It can be daunting, and safety should be your main priority. Riding in the rain presents a unique set of challenges, such as reduced visibility, slippery road surfaces, and decreased traction. However, Boundless Rider is going to explain how you can ride your motorcycle confidently and safely even in wet conditions. This article will help guide you through essential tips to ensure a secure and enjoyable riding experience when the skies have opened and started pouring rain!
Prepare Your Motorcycle
If you can’t avoid riding in the rain, before embarking on a rainy ride, ensure your motorcycle is in optimal riding condition:
- Check your tires: Verify that your tires have sufficient tread depth to provide adequate grip on wet surfaces. Bald tires and rain equal sliding. Maintain the recommended tire pressure for optimal traction.
- Inspect your brakes: Ensure your brakes are functioning correctly and the brake pads are in good condition. Wet conditions may require longer braking distances, so it’s crucial to have responsive brakes.
- Test your lights: Verify that your headlights, taillights, and turn signals are working properly. Visibility is reduced during rainfall, so having functioning lights is crucial for your safety and the visibility of other road users. Fog lights and auxiliary lights should be tested at this time as well.
Gear Up Appropriately
Wearing the right gear can significantly enhance your safety in rainy wet conditions:
- Helmet: Always wear a properly fitting helmet (full-face is highly recommended) to protect your head from impact and to maintain clear vision by preventing rain from obstructing your view. Anti-fogging lens or spray should be applied to any eyewear or screens.
- Riding suit: Invest in a high-quality, waterproof riding suit or rain gear that fits comfortably over your regular riding gear. A one-piece suit will keep any foul weather out. Ensure it has reflective elements for better visibility. If you are going to be traveling long distance, bringing one along for the journey may provide some peace of mind
- Gloves: Go for waterproof gloves that offer good grip even when wet. They should provide protection while allowing flexibility for easy control of the motorcycle’s controls.
- Boots: Wear waterproof, non-slip boots that cover your ankles for optimal protection against the rain and to maintain a firm footing while stopping or balancing the motorcycle. This is not the time to be riding in sandals, but really there is never a time when you should ride in sandals!
Change Your Riding TechniqueAdapting your riding technique to the wet conditions is crucial for a safe journey:
- Smooth and gentle inputs: Be gentle with the throttle, brakes, and steering. Apply throttle and brakes smoothly to avoid sudden skids or loss of traction. Gradual, controlled movements are key. If you were to crack the throttle, the back wheel may fish tail and you may lose control.
- Increase following distance: Increase the distance between your motorcycle and the vehicle in front of you to allow for longer braking distances. This extra space provides you with more time to react and maneuver safely.
- Choose the right lane position: Avoid riding in the center of the lane, as that’s where oil and debris tend to accumulate. Instead, position yourself slightly towards the tire tracks left by other vehicles, as they offer better traction. Being too close to the road’s edge is also dangerous as water and debris may pool there.
- Brake wisely: When braking in wet conditions, apply both brakes simultaneously, but with caution. Use more rear brake than front brake to prevent the front wheel from locking up. A front wheel lock up may cause the fork to turn and cause the motorcycle to tip.
- Stay visible: Turn on your headlights and make sure your high-visibility gear is visible to other motorists. Rain reduces visibility, so take extra precautions to be seen by using hand signals and giving clear indications of your intentions. Additional fog lights and auxiliary lights are never a bad idea if riding in poor weather.
Stay Aware of Road Conditions
Constantly monitor the road for potential hazards and adjust your riding accordingly:
- Puddles and standing water: Avoid large puddles and standing water as they may hide potholes or uneven road surfaces. Slow down when approaching wet patches and cross them carefully, maintaining a straight line. Avoid wet leaves as they are extremely slippery.
- Painted road markings and metal surfaces: Approach painted road markings, manhole covers, and metal surfaces with caution, as they can become extremely slippery in wet conditions. Stop before painted lines or to the side of them.
- Beware of oil and diesel spills: Rainwater causes oil and diesel spills to rise to the surface, making roads more slippery. Exercise caution when encountering such spills, especially in intersections or busy road sections where vehicles frequently stop or change lanes. A rainbow slick is a telltale sign of oil on a wet road.
Maintain VisibilityVisibility is crucial when riding in the rain, so take the following steps to ensure a clear line of sight:
- Use an anti-fog solution: Apply an anti-fog solution or use a Pinlock visor insert on your helmet visor to prevent fogging caused by the temperature and moisture difference between the inside and outside of the helmet. Pull over periodically if your visor or glasses need to be defogged or wiped.
- Keep your visor clean: Regularly clean your helmet visor to remove water droplets and debris that can obstruct your vision. Consider using a hydrophobic visor coating to repel water and improve visibility. There are coatings that can be applied to windscreens and windshields to repel water as well.
- Use your peripheral vision: Due to the limited visibility caused by rain, use your peripheral vision to detect objects and vehicles in your surroundings. Be extra cautious at intersections, blind spots, and while changing lanes. Observe your surroundings in your mirrors.
- Adjust your riding position: If rainwater is impairing your vision, adjust your riding position slightly to find a clear line of sight through your helmet visor. Tilt your head or adjust the visor angle to improve visibility.