6 tricks and tips: How to ride a motorcycle in the rain
by Miha Ernstschneider STS
Especially on hot summer days, when we hit the roads and go for longer trips, it can happen quite often that a summer storm catches you on the way. If the storm is not too severe, it can actually be quite fun to ride a motorcycle despite the bad weather, of course, with a proper motorcycle waterproof gear. But there are some very important facts you need to take into account.
- See and be seen
When it begins to rain, the visibility decreases a lot so make sure you will be able to see clearly and you will be seen. Anti fog visors or Pinlock anti-fog insert lenses are a must have for your motorcycle helmet for a ride in such conditions. It will prevent your helmet visor to fog up and you will be able to see clearly. Make sure you use your motorcycle turn signals to indicate your intentions and where possible, indicate also with your hand signals. While waiting at the red light, make sure you stay on your brakes so the motorcycle brake light will warn the drivers behind you and allow them to see you sooner and better. If you are wearing reflective motorcycle gear it can only help you to be seen in good and bad weather and to have a back off module or smart brake light installed, it will increase your capacity for communicating with other vehicles in traffic while braking with the engine or downshifting.
- Take it easy
After a longer period of dry weather, the first 10-15 minutes of rain are the worst when it comes to road conditions. A lot of dust and dirt has gathered on the road and before the rain washes it all away, it makes the road very slippery. Take extra caution since the combination of water and dirt makes the surface very slippery and it may cause you problems with tire traction and braking. Brake and accelerate smoothly and do not exaggerate while cornering, loosen up your body and do only one thing at a time.
- Rainbows on the road won’t bring you any luck
You must have seen a rainbow on the asphalt before, especially while it is raining or just after the rain has stopped. Even it may look nice, all the colours of the rainbow on the road instead of different shades of grey, those spots are the worst for the motorcycle rider. The reason the rainbow patches form on the road is in the rain mixing with the oil that dripped from different vehicles and that combination makes the road very slippery. Also, take extra caution on intersections – on spots where vehicles are stopping on the intersections, oily patches are much more common than elsewhere on the road and they might be hard to see in raining conditions.
- Beware of road markings, manhole covers, railway crossings
Every time the riding surface changes you need to adapt your motorcycle ride to those specific conditions. While raining or just after the rain, when the roads are still wet, road markings, manhole covers and railway crossings are as slippery as ice. Those surfaces differ a lot from asphalt and the rainwater makes it only worse. My advice is to slow down significantly before you go over those surfaces and do it in an upright riding position and minimise the lean angle to the extent the situation allows. Do not brake or accelerate on those surfaces and take extra caution.
- Avoid puddles on the road – it may seem as a lot of fun but it could end a disaster
Everybody hides a child within himself and on some occasions, the child wants to get out. Seeing a puddle on the road might be one of these occasions and even if it may seem that splashing might be a lot of fun, it can end in everything else but fun. You can never be sure what hides beneath the puddle so the best advice would be to avoid it completely. If you can’t avoid it, don’t make sudden moves, don’t brake hard and don’t even think about accelerating (aquaplaning), try to keep your motorcycle in an upright position and cross it with extra care.
- Find a line with less surface water
If you are following another vehicle, you will notice that there is less water in the tire tracks of the vehicles in front of you. Tires push the water away for a brief moment which allows you more traction but still be very careful and keep enough distance from the vehicle in front of you if you would need to brake quickly. Even if the water is pushed away, the road is still slippery. Always find the driest line.
Motorcycle safety is very important every day but take special care on wet surfaces during or just after the rain. Ride safe!