Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain
Riding a motorcycle in the rain can be a daunting feat, but it doesn’t have to be! In this guide, we’ll equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to ride safely when adverse weather inevitably strikes.
Before we dive into any riding techniques, there’s one element that you need to get straight from the start – mindset.
The key to riding safely is making calm, collected decisions and applying progressive inputs to the motorcycle. If you’re fixated on crashing, your ability to make rational decisions will be greatly impaired. These will be replaced with frantic, last-minute choices that could ultimately lead to an accident.
Remember, confidence is everything!
Why Are People Afraid of Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain?
It doesn’t take a genius to know that riding in the wet reduces the overall amount of traction. This is caused by the rain creating a distinct layer between the road and your tyres.
This fact often leaves riders with little to no confidence in their tyre’s ability to grip the road.
It’s important to remember that fixating on this idea is often more detrimental than the actual conditions.
Assessing the road ahead of you in advance is a great way of reducing the need for last-minute inputs. While you can never rule out the dangers of road riding, planning ahead will buy you valuable decision-making time.
Keeping Your Visor Clean
This one should be pretty self-explanatory, but keeping your visor clean is essential for two main reasons:
- Rain has a nasty habit of clinging to dirty visors. Particularly those covered in bug splatters from last weekend’s backroad blast!
- The reduced visibility caused by the build-up of rain could tempt you into lifting your visor. This will undoubtedly cause it to steam up, further reducing visibility.
So, what’s the solution to all of this? A clean visor to begin with and a Pinlock insert to reduce the build-up of fog.
Hazards to Avoid
It goes without saying that you should be vigilant anytime you’re on two wheels, regardless of the weather. You should, however, be paying extra attention to hazards when riding in the wet!
Here are some important examples to look out for:
When it rains, oil that had previously seeped into the tarmac is displaced, causing it to rise to the surface. (This is what causes the rainbow-like patterns formed on the road after heavy rainfall.)
Patches of oil greatly reduce traction and should be avoided if at all possible. Thankfully, the colourful pattern that these patches produce makes them easily identifiable against the tarmac.
While puddles only tend to pose the risk of aquaplaning at higher speeds, the real danger often lies beneath. Puddles are incredibly adept at hiding manhole covers, road markings, and smooth road surfaces. All of which can be exceptionally slippery when wet.
We advise trying to avoid puddles altogether if possible. Otherwise, make sure to ride through them in a straight line and keep the bike as upright as possible.
Wet leaves are notoriously slippery and often pose a real threat to motorcyclists.
If unavoidable, make sure to keep the bike as upright as possible and apply steady throttle while riding over them.
As a general rule, we recommend doubling your braking distance in wet conditions to account for reduced traction and visibility.
The same technique recommended in dry conditions should also be applied when riding a motorcycle in the rain. Which technique are we referring to? Squeeze, don’t grab!
Grabbing a handful of brake in the wet could cause the tyres to lose traction, which is incredibly unsettling. We recommend applying a progressive squeeze rather than a sudden grab. This will allow the forks to gradually compress and safely bring you to a halt.
The braking force that can be applied without breaking traction varies from one motorcycle to the next. We recommend finding a quiet stretch of road and practising this technique until you become confident. Once you’ve mastered this, you’ll be incredibly surprised by how much braking force can be actually applied in the wet!
Using the rear brake in wet conditions is a controversial topic that many riders have a different opinion on. Some riders swear by primarily using the rear brake in the wet, but we don’t necessarily agree with this.
The rear brake will never provide the same braking force or feedback that the front lever does.
As a general rule, we recommend applying an 80/20 bias on the front brake in wet conditions.
Acceleration and Speed
Similar to braking, snatchy inputs to the throttle can cause the rear wheel to lose traction. This is something you don’t want in the rain, believe me!
Smooth, continuous throttle inputs are most certainly the way to go. This applies to both rolling the power on and off.
With that being said, reducing your overall speed in the wet is just as, if not more important.
At lower speeds, you’re asking less of your tyres, and sustaining traction is much easier. Keeping the speed down will also give you more time to think and make calm decisions.
Just as you would in the dry, set up your body position well before the corner. Remember to apply a steady amount of throttle while keeping away from the brakes.
The further you lean the bike over, the smaller the contact patch becomes between the road and your tyres. This is why you should always try to keep the motorcycle as upright as possible in the wet.
To compensate for the reduced lean angle, you can shift more of your weight towards the inside of the corner. This will allow you to keep a tight and steady line throughout while maintaining traction.
Tyres are Paramount
While tyres designed for use in adverse weather might not look the part, they certainly outperform their sport-focused counterparts in the wet.
The additional tread on touring/all-purpose tyres allow them to displace water more quickly and efficiently. This reduces the amount of water between your tyres and the road, which in turn increases traction.
Now that you’ve chosen the right rubber, keeping them properly inflated is just as important! If your tyre pressures are either too high or low, it won’t allow the tread to funnel out the water properly. If in doubt, check the manufacturer’s recommendation.
If you’re lucky enough to have a motorcycle equipped with traction control, ABS, riding modes, or potentially all three, we urge you to make use of them!
Where possible, turn the traction control up, the power down, and make sure that ABS is switched on.
Many of us take for granted just how far motorcycle technology has come in a few short years. At the end of the day, these electronic aids could be the difference between having a spill and keeping your pride firmly intact.
All things considered, riding a motorcycle in the rain isn’t particularly difficult; it simply presents different challenges. Just remember to keep the conditions in mind at all times and use your common sense!
If you enjoyed this article, please consider checking out the other topics we’ve covered over on our blog!