by Liz Jansen
While many would disagree, riding in the rain can be enjoyable, fun and safe. I love it! As long as I’m prepared
Having said that, wet weather riding carries unique hazards. It’s more important than ever that your bike – including tires and suspension — are in good working condition.
We all know that roads are slickest when it first starts to rain, especially if it hasn’t rained in a while, so take extra precaution then.
10 tips on riding in the rain
- Watch for painted lines, manhole covers, streetcar tracks, oil, fuel. Painted lines and metal grating can become very slippery when wet. Oil products are recognizable by the rainbow hue on wet pavement. Avoid all of them as they can cause you to lose traction.
- Reduce your speed. You will want more time and distance to stop or react to obstacles. Slowing down buys you reaction time.
- Stay smooth. While it’s always important, smooth moves are even more critical in the rain. Slow down on your rate of acceleration. Be smooth, progressive but still firm when using brakes. The key is not to do anything suddenly.
- Stay relaxed. Motorcycles can handle the rain, it’s how you control them that makes the difference. A relaxed body position is less likely to result in a reactive or quick impulsive moves, which can affect traction. It also keeps you more alert as you can focus on the road rather than worry about the rain.
- Avoid standing water. While motorcycle tires are less likely than car tires to hydroplane, much depends on the width and tread design. Standing water can also hide potholes and debris so when given a choice, stay away from it.
- Wear good rain gear. Anything distracting is a safety hazard – including water dripping down your back or front – or getting soaked through. Raindrops can feel like pellets hitting your unprotected face so at least wear a face shield. On full-face helmets, make sure the visor closes securely and the helmet is well-vented to prevent fogging. See 10 Qualities to Look for in Motorcycle Rain Gear
- Watch for gravel and sand. This hazard can appear unexpectedly, particularly in rural areas where heavy rain can wash it over the road.
- Leave plenty of space around you. Get away from tailgaters. Leaving extra distance is more important on wet pavement so protect your space. Tap your rear brake in advance of your normal braking distance to alert traffic behind you.
- Wear high-viz clothing. Drivers don’t notice riders at the best of times, let alone when rain or fog reduce visibility, and they’re not expecting to see you out there. Anything you can do to make yourself more visible, with bright colors and especially reflective strips make you more noticeable.
- Ride with confidence, looking well ahead to where you want to go. Always an essential skill, correct eye control is even more important in the rain. Riding gingerly scares your and makes others around you nervous. Appropriate use of the throttle helps maintain traction.
Stay home every time rain is forecast, and you’ll miss a lot of riding. If you do any traveling at all, you’re bound to run into rain at some time. Embrace it! It’s all part of the experience. But get used to it gradually. If you’re afraid to be out there, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
Like learning any new skill, practice in a low-key environment, before putting yourself out in heavy traffic. Follow the tips above and you’ll find out how much fun it can be!