Rain is tricky, you can be the most experienced rider and still be caught off guard by a damp road. You may never plan to ride in wet conditions, but the weather is unpredictable. You don’t have to resort to Uber when the sky turns grey, and I know making that dreaded call to your wife, husband, or good buddy that will give you hell isn’t preferred. Before you feel stranded, turn a plastic bag into a rain poncho, or assume an umbrella alone can save the day, we have some tips from the road to share with you.
When the rain first starts, don’t test your limits, the road is at its most dangerous point. When you mix oil, dirt, and grease together on the asphalt, where you assume you will find traction, the road will feel like ice. Slow down, give yourself more space between you and vehicle in front of you, and keep a slower pace.
Puddles might look fun to ride through, but that small puddle could end up being much bigger than you expect. Focus on what is in front of you, look where you want to go, and remember that motorcycles do not swim, avoid the puddles.
Naturally, you’ll find yourself hovering over your brakes more than usual. If you have ever wanted to try to ride like an American Flat Track racer, now is your time to shine. Your front brake may be a safety blanket to you, but I promise you, in wet conditions, your rear brake is your friend. It is much easier to control a slide from your rear tire than it is your front tire, but regardless, go easy.
We understand Valentino Rossi can make rain riding look like a Sunday stroll with his speed and brake control, but realize, that’s not just his talent. Being a safe, confident, and skilled rider in any condition also requires trusting your equipment. Your control on a damp road will only be as good as your tires. Consider when choosing tires that handle well in wet weather – tread rubber (compound) and tread pattern. We have a great resource available for you on this topic.
Don’t overlook the importance of keeping yourself sheltered from the elements, nobody enjoys an uncomfortable ride. Having the proper riding apparel is equally as important as having the proper tires for your motorcycle. Typically you’ll see that rain gear preference depends on the kind of riding you do. Short distance motorcycle riders often want something that is economical, compact and keeps the water out from points A to B. Where longer distance riders often choose the gear that provides better waterproofing and is durable. Compactness is a consideration, but it is not usually at the top of the list. Remember, even short distance riders commuting to work, school, or even just enjoy a stroll around town at any point could end up sitting in a downpour during a traffic jam.
The hi-vis colors may not be your favorite, we know that it’s not easy to match anything with neon orange, green, or yellow. In the heavy rain or on the stormy nights, being seen should be everyone’s top priority, especially when you consider the drivers that have a hard time seeing us in the first place, let alone when visibility is diminished.
Helmet or no helmet, waterproof gloves or your everyday go-to pair, making sure your face and eyes are shielded and your hands are warm and dry is much more important than you think. Having to break in another pair of gloves is never fun, but I would rather break in new gloves than have wet and cold hands that could potentially cause me to lose my grip on my controls. Full face helmets are not for everybody, but when the weather takes a turn, it can become your best friend. Keeping your vision clear, your face dry, and your eyes protected is the key to having a safe ride through the storm.
A cold and wet start to the fall season is not ideal, but that does not mean you have to roll your bike into the garage early this year. Trust your equipment, invest in your gear, make your comfort a priority, and keep enjoying the ride in the safest way you can.