As a veteran bike rider and motorcycle adviser, it is common safety knowledge and routine practice that I get ready for the unusual that often accompanies each season of the year. Whether I ride in the winter, summer, autumn, or spring, I need not be reminded of the precaution against challenges that often arise when motorcycling in the rain.
It is not only the veterans that should prepare for odd times; beginner riders must also be guided accordingly and appropriately. But how much information do you have to guide you on how to ride a motorcycle in the rain, for instance? How do you even get to know when you’re not properly informed? How do you get the right information when you don’t get to the right source?
Coming in contact with me through this post affords you the best chance to equip yourself with all the safety tips you need to know about riding a motorcycle in the rain. Water is a friend at all times for riders; sometimes, it can be a source of frustration; but it all depends on your handling of bad weather when you’re on the saddle of your two-wheel vehicles.
For a safe motorcycle ride in the rain, follow my simple tips and guide here. Do not hesitate to intercept our discussion with questions if you have any as we progress. The rule of thumb while riding in the rain is that you must slow down.
What’s more, you’ve got to be smooth while you relax your body on the bike. Don’t forget that rain blurs your vision while riding in it. Remember that using paint, metal, tar snakes, or cat’s-eye reflectors on the road is as bad as driving a faulty motorcycle. All of these reflectors all become a lot more slippery in the rain. I bet you the worst is metal. Did you know that apart from being an offense, driving a bike without good safety gear is suicidal? If you don’t or pretend not to, now you have the information. I can’t remember riding without putting my helmet, gloves, and jacket on.
I have just laid bare some common dos you must obey and don’ts you must avoid. That’s not all. Let’s flip to the other side of our conversation. Anyways, do you have any questions at this point before I move on?
Before Riding in the Rain
This is one important question you must not broach over. Pay attention to every detail of the information I am going to be sharing with you in this section of our conversation. This is for your safety and the safety of those who use the road with you.
Now, let me ask you:
How Good is My Motorcycle?
You remember the farmer who sets out in the morning and gets to the farm only to remember that the hoe he goes to farm with had been damaged a day before. What message does that send to you? Carelessness. Forgetfulness. Negligence. Before you even plan your trip, you must ensure your bike is in order and in good condition. One, rain doesn’t tell you it will fall. Even if the National Weather Service has given a bit of weather advice for travelers, you must also ensure that rainfall can defy science at times.
To forestall or prepare for the unexpected, try to do the first things first. Hence, before you leave, inspect your motorcycle and see if there are any parts in need of replacements. Without prejudice to others, there are parts of your bike that could really jeopardize your trip in the rain. These ones must get careful attention. Among these parts are:
Your tires are analogous to your attitude at the workplace. While every other thing is good to yield results, your attitude moves you on and keeps your job for you. Does that make any sense? This is the role your tires play as well. Are they the right tires recommended for your bike? How well treaded are they? How much pressure is inside? Over or under pressured tires aren’t good for you. Inspect your tires for wear and tear and make sure they are in good shape before you step out.
Your bike’s brakes work the same way your understanding of office politics works. When you know that the office, more than anything else, is a political setting and how dangerous it can be to be too rigid or flexible, you’ll know when to talk and when not to; when to work late and when not to.
In the same way, if you understand the danger of not having a good brake system, then you’ll know that the brakes are the first thing to attend to. Your brakes need to be adequately padded. The wear and tear of the front and rear brake pads must be known.
Oil & Brake Fluid Leaking
I always tell people that there is a lot wrong if your motorcycle harbors leakages. The oil and brake fluid must be adequate, and any leakage would simply reduce the quantity that your motorcycle needs. Here’s what might shock you: when any part of your bike leaks, the oil may get mixed with the water, and that is a recipe for a serious collision. This is because the road becomes slippery and unsafe for riding.
Proper Riding Gear
The role of motorcycle safety gear cannot be overemphasized. Do wear suitable waterproof clothing, riding boots and gloves, plastic bags, and helmets. All of this helps you have a safe ride and keeps you from adverse riding conditions where wet weather always subjects riders.
What Should You Beware Of?
Great question! Wet rides come with irony. Even though they appear perfectly clean and smooth to ride on, wet roads can cause dangerous situations; they consist of grease oils and other slippery residuals on the surface, making them something to be cautious, wary, and suspicious about.
A lot happens on the road when you ride in the rain and you should expect them and take steps to avoid as many of them as you can so you can navigate to your destination safely.
You’re not unfamiliar with the fact that lightning accompanies the rain. When that happens, the best thing to do is to get off the road immediately. While it is customary that lightning most times may only seek out tall objects, but electric current goes straight into the ground, and any wet object may be prey to it.
You know that once it rains, everything is wet, including yourself. Your tires don’t absolutely insulate you from the dangerous effect of electricity that travels along the ground. Never risk riding when there is lightning.
Usually when there is rain and in wet conditions generally, the opportunity to apply brake reduces when you compare to a dry riding condition. What you should do when you’re on a wet ride is to increase the braking distance.
Meanwhile, a lighter application should be done to the front brakes. However, compensation should be given to the reduced application of the front brake by topping more stopping distance. Still, on that note, you need to ensure that cornering has to be slow and steady. The best riding position during wet conditions is vertical. This is to ensure that the tires have the best contact patch and can whisk away most of the water through the treads in your tires.
You can call this blurred vision. What you need to beware of is that when you ride in the rain, your visibility of short and long-distant objects and obstacles reduces. You’ll not even be able to see the road ahead of you. The road surface may look plain and unobstructed but in reality, they may not; they present many challenges.
There is a way out anyways. To avoid being deceived or falling into oily and slippery roads, try to wear your reflective high visibility gear. This gear can come as a bright-colored item; what is important is that it must always be worn in the rain. Even in dismal conditions, this gear could be the only saving safety element. This is because the gear is built with features that can help you discern obstacles. Other vehicles use wipers that move across their windshields.
You should also know that other road users are in the same potentially precarious situations as you. They also have their vision blurred and can be affected by the greasy rides while riding. They also go through an increased braking system and in that case, there is a high chance that someone blurred by rain could spin across the road into you. For that, I would say ride defensively, not offensively.
Hydroplaning occurs when water prevents your bike tires from having direct contact with the road. In that case, chances are that your vehicle tires just make a surface ride on the road, preventing them from getting enough traction. You can also avoid hydroplaning by also avoiding certain portions of the road. Don’t ride on tar snakes, rainbow-hued puddles, manhole covers, metal crossings, and painted lanes. They all contribute to reduced traction. It does not matter the sophistication of the tread of your tire.
Why Does it Get Slippery When Raining?
That’s a great way to start the discussion. Needless to say that you get wet once it rains, maybe as much as the ride too. I will bring back some of the lessons from our elementary science. During dry weather, oil, bitumen, rubber, and other substances build up to form residue on the road, and they remain there. However, as rain falls, some of these residues are brought back to the surface of the road and mixed with rainwater to form slick-like substance on the road, as though there were an oil spill. What you see is that the road becomes slippery and greasy, unable to hold your vehicle tires.
At that point, the road gets greasier, causing some grip issues (often called aquaplaning) for your tires, however perfectly made they are. What do I mean? That’s why you often hear that it’s most risky to ride and ride fast in a few hours after the first rain of the season.
7-Steps to Take when you’re Riding in the Rain
Here is a list of what I often do, that is my ‘quick and on-the-spot action’ each time I’m riding in the rain:
- Slow down
- Keep a further distance from the vehicle ahead of me
- Keep your calm; don’t panic.
- Avoid harsh braking or acceleration when the surfaces are slippery or greasy
- Maneuver gently as though I was riding in icy conditions.
- Gradually reduce acceleration and never slam the brake if I find myself in a skid.
- Wheel in the direction of a skid.
These are general considerations. What about the specific precautionary measures and proactive steps that must be taken before I even get to the road? These, for me, are more fundamental to a successful in-the-rain motorcycle ride.
If the 7 items above apply when you’re on the road, the list below applies to the specific actions that you must take before getting onto the ride.
1. Drive on well-treaded Roads
When you get to the road, what you will observe is that water on the road surface usually gets between your tires and the road. To avoid being affected by the water, you need to ensure that your tires get enough tread. Don’t get on the road with those slick tires. The tread on your scooter tires isn’t there for fun. They provide enough grip as well as remove any water from between the tire and the road. The thing is that the more tread your tire gets, the more water is able to effectively remove.
2. Stay up-right on the Bike
Ideally, your riding position on the bike should always be upright. More importantly, when riding in wet conditions and you have to go through deeper water, make sure you sit upright. The sitting position must also be smooth and steady. Once you keep your vision high, your inputs smooth, and your momentum steady, then you’re are in steady and full control in the case of any slip or skid.
3. Apply Throttle & Brake Gently
Riding in the rain can be very tricky. That is why you need to learn the rudiments of riding in the first place before coming to the major motorcycle ride. When you’re riding in the rain, applying the brake or throttle can be a dangerous thing to do. In fact, both the brake and the throttle can be your arch enemies.
If you notice a drop in the traction level caused by the rain, be less aggressive with your actions. Applying the throttle or the brake should be a little more gentle, slowly, and gradually.
4. Don’t Step on Fast Moving Water
This is a no brainer! As much as you can, avoid riding on fast-moving water. I remember my first experience back in 2017. I was riding along the Possum Kingdom Lake Ride in Texas, and suddenly there was this pool of water from the stream that had just broken its banks and flowing across the road. I quickly altered my route to avoid it. It is not safe to attempt to ride through running water. If you do, you may not be alive to tell the story.
5. Hydroplaning has Rules
If you see yourself hydroplaning, it is not time to give in to the temptation of trudging your feet on the brakes. No. Although motorcycles are less likely to hydroplane because of their narrower tires which can wedge their way out of puddles, it is not inconceivable that they hydroplane. Applying brakes that way can be disastrous and make things worse. Instead, the best thing to do is to apply steady, strong pressure on the foot pegs. Make your grip relaxed on the bars. In that way, you’ll see yourself ease out of the throttle as you slow down to regain the throttle.
6. Ride Progress Reduced Traction
Whether you ride in the rain or in the dry weather, one thing is common: traction levels decrease as the journey progresses. I hope this disclaims the myth among some riders that traction increases when you’re on a nice, clean, level road surface. It’s not true. The less traction reduces, the less you’re able to apply brake, accelerate or turn with nearly as much speed or force.
7. Slow Speed
This is a must-do when you’re riding in the rain. Slowing down, squeezing the clutch, coasting through puddles as much as possible are safety measures you must take to avoid collision and accident when riding in the rain. It has to be said, riding in the rain is one of the riskiest and most dangerous things to do as a rider. When you now drive at higher speeds, you put yourself in extreme risk conditions. Try as much as possible to maintain reasonable speed and avoid abrupt changes of the gear.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I ride my sport-bike or scooter in the rain? Regardless of the style of motorcycle you have, the best advice I will give you is never to ride a bike in the rain. Maybe unless your life depends on it, make riding a two wheeler in the rain your last option. What you should do if your trip had started before the rain is to pull over under a shelter, while you allow the rain to subside before starting the journey again. Make sure your sports bike or scooter is parked on a level dry surface. Also ensure that its exhaust is dried of water.
What happens if my motorcycles get wet? I will say it for the umpteen times, moisture is not good on the shell of your bike.it can destroy. More so, if your scooter model comes with metals that are known to corrode or rust easily, or ones made of low quality chrome plating. It is often advisable to cover your motorcycle when not in use to avoid damage.
How fast can I go in the rain? Ideally, what should guide our riding during rainy conditions is the hydroplaning speed. The fundamental question a rider should ask himself when riding in wet conditions should be about the speed at which hydroplaning is possible. The basic hydroplaning speed (MPH) is 54 MPH. it is not advisable or safe to go above this threshold. Remind yourself every time you’re speeding at 60MPH that you’re taking a great risk.
Now you can see why some of the steel plates and manhole covers you find on major motorcycle rides can be dangerous if you attempt to match them. Be prepared for any eventuality if ride on them. Look ahead, ride smoothly, and don’t panic.
Riding is one of the most interesting activities you can ever think of engaging in. On the other hand, it remains a dangerous path when the rider does not take precautions before stepping out to ride. The rainy season presents the rider with the most daunting challenges and moments. But for a rider who knows his onions, there is no need to nurse any fear. You’ll always be on top of your game on the road only if you understand what to do and how to do it, and promptly too.
Always remember my recommendation: The safety of other road users is your safety. So, always consider them first each time you have to take any action, whether major or minor. Keep your dipped headlights on so you can see other road users, and so they can see you, too. I wish you a safe trip each time you get on your saddle. I love your life, but you should love it more. Stay here with me for the next post.