Be it a shower or deluge, rain can be your worst nightmare when on a motorcycle if you’re not properly prepared. During the spring and winter months, precipitation is unpredictable, and if you are in a rainy state, expect to get caught at least one shower while riding your bike. Rather than avoiding rainy days altogether, learn to ride your motorcycle in the rain.
Before The Ride
For maximum safety, inspect your bike to make sure it’s ready to tackle a ride in the rain.
• Fluids: Check your motorcycle to make sure there’s no brake fluid or oil leakage. While oil leaks aren’t very dangerous in dry conditions, when oil mixes with water, the road becomes a slick and dangerous course.
• Brakes: Make sure the brake pads have enough material left to help you with prompt stops in wet conditions.
• Tires: Check that your tires have enough tread to push water away and grip the road. You also want to ensure they have enough air pressure. Under or over-inflated tires react differently in water, but both are potentially dangerous.
In order to keep you and your bike safe, you should have the correct riding gear and attire ready to go. You can choose between water-resistant and waterproof items. Water-resistant will shed water, but after a period of time, water will begin to permeate the material. Waterproof, on the other hand, will never allow for water to absorb into the material, unless you get completely submerged in water.
• Water-resistant or Waterproof Gear: Jackets and one piece suits should be zipped up tightly when riding in the rain to prevent water from seeping. Zippers should have a flap that covers the edges to protect the interstices. Cuffs on the jacket or coat need to be long enough to reach your gloves.
• Riding Boots and Gloves: More effective deterrents against complete saturation of your clothes. Both boots and gloves need to be tight enough to prevent water from dripping through. No one likes cold, wet socks.
• Helmets and Goggles: For the best protection, get a full-faced helmet. If you have a ½ or ¾ face helmet, get a pair of goggles. Pair the goggles with a waterproof balaclava that can shed water away from your face.
• Miscellaneous: If you have a saddlebag or storage unit, consider keeping a change of dry clothes with you. Also, keep plastic bags with you to keep valuables dry if you happen to get caught in a sudden rainstorm. Dry bags or waterproof backpacks can also help.
Be Cautious Of Road Conditions
Wet roads are dangerous for motorcyclists and other vehicle drivers, regardless of how prepared you may be. Even when the roads appear clean, they could be slick from oil. Here are some things to consider when traveling by motorcycle in the rain:
The first hour of rainfall is the most dangerous, because oils absorbed into the asphalt rise to the surface. During this time, it’s best to pullover at a rest stop about wait for about an hour. Once the rain has washed the road of oil and debris, you can head out again. Remember that this also means an increased braking distance.
Sometimes, the fog or mist is too dense, or the rain is falling so hard you or other drivers can’t see. You can make yourself more visible to the traffic around you by wearing high visibility clothing and reflective patches.
Hydroplaning occurs when water prevents the tire from making contact with the road. Reduce the risk of hydroplaning by avoiding painted lines, manhole covers, iridescent patches on the road and puddles (oil), tar snakes, metal crossing, and other places with reduced traction.
Also, you should reduce your speed when approaching puddles you can’t maneuver around. Start slowing down, squeeze the clutch, then coast through the puddle. If you’re going too fast, it’s better to maintain that velocity rather than slowing down abruptly, as this will reduce friction could cause fishtailing.
Decrease the risk of hydroplaning further with all-weather tires.
Stay aware of lightning, hail, ice, sleet, and other conditions that could transpire in a rainstorm. High winds can cause debris to fall into the road, and you might not see it due to decreased visibility. If it starts lightning, pull over.
Not every day is going to be perfect riding weather. Planning ahead and being prepared goes a long way when dealing with rainy conditions. Not only will you stay dry, but you will arrive at your destination safely.
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