One of our subscribers was worried about riding in the rain, so we ended up buying some pizza and donuts headed to the Fat Flash for his worldly wisdom.
Riding in the rain is fun, and a little preparation and know how should make it extremely safe as well.
Imagine this, it’s nice and sunny and you decide it is a perfect day to take your motorcycle out for a beautiful ride and then the heaven’s open up. Next thing you know your visor is misiting up, you’re soaked through and through, you’re cold and wet and you can’t see very well. Don’t worry… relax, slow down and take a deep breath, after all it’s only water.
Let’s get things clear, most motorcycle gear is not water proof and if you are going to be riding in the rain for a long time, you’re going to get wet eventually and it is going to make you very very wet and very cold pretty quickly. So forget buying all that expensive rain gear, instead spend a very nominal amount on rain liners that can be worn over your regular gear, these usually can be packed into a bag the size of small book and are pretty easy to put on over your regular gear. You will only need this if you plan on riding in the rain for extended periods.
Now, that helmet of yours, throw away those dark and iridium visors. They look cool and really help on those hot summer days but on a rainy day, all they are going to do is hamper your vision. Buy a clear visor and snap it on to your helmet. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about that misiting. No matter how expensive your helmet, it is going to mist. That’s just how visors work when there is moisture in the air. So one option is investing in a helmet that allows for an anti-fog insert like Pinlock to be fixed to the visor. The investment is worth it but if it is something you cannot afford, keeping the visor open a few millimetres, usually helps clear the mist while keeping the rain out but we would not recommend doing it on a long trip.
While we are still on the subject of helmets, remember to keep your visors clean at all times.
The first things that are usually going to get wet and cold are your hands and palms and you need them to stay warm so that they can keep controlling your motorcycle. The first option is investing in gear that has Gore-tex or a similar breathable waterproof membrane or you can just be cheap and buy a pair of disposable surgical gloves and wear them over your regular gloves. Works like a charm and doesn’t hamper your controls.
The biggest question is boots, while you do have waterproof boots wearing them over long periods is eventually going to cause you to get wet with water stuck in them. Rain is a sneaky thing and it will find its way through any opening it can find. Our recommendation is to wear woollen socks instead of cotton, they will keep you warm even if they get wet and you will get wet.
Remember when we were talking about reduced visibility, that goes for other road users as well, they will have difficulty spotting you and that spray your rear tire gives off, doesn’t make it any easier for the people behind you. Wear a high-viz jacket over your gear to help people spot you easily. We would also recommend running with your headlight switched on during the rain.
Ok now that we have that out of the way, ask yourself “What happens when it rains?” Obvious answer- Everything gets wet. And when everything is wet, everything becomes more treacherous.
Seemingly mundane stuff like manhole covers and lane markings can become nightmares for most riders. The rain makes them slick and you will have reduced grip no matter how good you claim your tires are. With rain, comes puddles and take it from us, stay away from them. Until and unless you have absolutely no choice. Puddles hide potholes and open manholes and you would not want to hit either while riding.
With reduced grip levels, you will not be able to accelerate as hard or brake as hard and you will need to start braking way earlier than you usually would. Remember to ride defensively assume, assume that you’re invisible to every other road user and ride accordingly.
The best thing to do while riding in the rain is to slow down, no, serious slow down, like way down. This not only helps address the iffy grip we were talking about but will also give you that extra buffer to help assess the situation around you and take evasive action if necessary.
Keeping your throttle and braking smooth will help prevent your rear from sliding out or your front from locking up. This is something we were taught in the Yamaha Race clinic, Low gear- High Revs – Little Slide, High gear- Low Revs- Big slide. Keeping your motorcycle at higher revs seems like a recipe for disaster but the truth is when you’re in the higher revs, you need less throttle action to get that extra power so you end up with a smoother throttle control and fewer slides.
Remember to keep distance from the vehicles around you and ride at a pace you’re comfortable with. Ride hard and ride safe