Riding a motorcycle in the rain is something you will eventually encounter and have to come to terms with as a motorcycle rider. There aren’t too many people that see rain out the window and say “Awesome! it’s raining, lets go riding”. I recall, riding from Sydney to Phillip Island with a group of friends and it rained 80% of our ride down. In all fairness, rain is nothing but water and so long as 1) it’s not raining very hard 2) it’s not falling horizontally (strong wind), and 3) you have the correct weather proof gear, then the ride will be fine.
Here are some tips for riding a motorcycle in the rain.
Inspect your tyres
Your tyres will be doing most of the leg work when riding in the rain. Good wet weather tyres will have deep grooves in the tread that work to efficiently channel the water off the tyre and in return give good traction to the road. If the tyre tread pattern is starting to look slick (Shallow grooves) then best to replace them before deciding to ride in the rain.
Wet weather gear
If your motorcycle has a storage compartment, then fill it with a set of “Wets” – otherwise called wet weather gear. This is one of the most important tips for riding a motorcycle in the rain because nothing is more uncomfortable than water AND wind seeping into your clothes. It’s a distraction you don’t want to deal with when your concentration should be at its most. When buying rain gear, look out for Gor-Tex or equivalent. It needs to be able to breath but still not allow water to creep in.
When it hasn’t rained for weeks
If it hasn’t rained for consecutive days, you’ll find that this is when the road surface will be at its worst. When rain first starts after many days of dry weather, the build up of oil and dirt will be at its most and create very slippery riding conditions. Those pretty colours that look like rainbows in the tarmac is actually oil! You’ll want to avoid those at you and your bikes cost. Wait at least an hour for the rain to wash away the oil and dirt before riding.
Go easy on the front brake
Compensate your braking with more rear brake. Too much front brake in an emergency situation can cause the front wheel to slide which is difficult to save for even the most skilful rider. If you see an incident ahead, flash your rear brake light by gently taping your brake a few times. This will alert those vehicles behind you that something has happened up ahead.
Keep your distance to the vehicle in front of you and stay in their mirrors
Give yourself more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Braking distances are much longer in the rain. Position your bike so that you are offset to the vehicle in front. You’ll want to make sure that they can see your bright shining headlights in their mirrors.
Stay off the white lines
Those white pedestrian crossing lines are notorious for sending riders down the road in the wet. Ride between them and not over them when possible. If you can’t avoid those slippery white markings, at least be sure that you turn the bike AFTER both wheels have passed the white markings.
Watch out for puddles
Yes, it can be fun riding through one, but since the water hides the surface you just don’t know what you are riding into. Can the puddle in fact be a 3 feet deep hole? Do you want to find out the hard way?
Throttle control dry or wet, even more in the wet
You need to be very smooth on the throttle when riding a motorcycle in the rain. This is particularly important when you are exiting a turn and you are carrying some lean angle. Too much throttle and the rear wheel can easily step out in the wet because the rear tyre under hard acceleration will very quickly loose traction on the wet surface. Ease on the throttle smoothly and decrease the lean angle of the bike so that the best part of the tyre is being used, rather than the slicker edge of the tyre.