Wet weather motorcycle riding

Tips For Riding in Bad Weather

The first thing people think when the bad weather arrives, is "This sucks" but, it doesn't have to.

Obviously we aren't talking about snow and ice here, but riding in the wet, can be more educational than riding in the dry.

It depends on your point of view, if the glass is half empty, or half full, as to whether riding in bad weather can be fun or not. It also depends on your resistance to the cold though!. The first thing, wrap up well, make sure you have good waterproofs, good, warm gloves, and good, waterproof boots. The second thing, make sure you have a decent crash helmet, that doesn't mist up easily, if you don't, you could always get a foggy mask, a neck warmer, pulled up over the mouth can also help.

Now that you are warm, and waterproof, get the bike out!. There are hidden and not so hidden hazards when riding in the wet. Things to look out for, include :-

  1. Diesel. Often seen as a smeary rainbow type effect, especially prominent at roundabouts, at traffic lights, and corners.

  2. Wet manhole covers. These aren't too bad unless you happen to be lent right over, and you are opening the throttle. beware that they will be very slippy, but don't weave or swerve around them, as that can upset the bike more.

  3. White lines. When they are wet, they are very slippery, and can cause you to lose the front or back end of your bike.

One of the things to remember when riding in the wet, is that your tyres won't get up to temperature anywhere near as fast, as when riding in the dry. So, be extra smooth and cautious for the first 15-20 minutes. The key to riding in the wet, is to be smooth, be gentle with the throttle, the clutch and the brakes, smooth really is the keyword here, easy and gentle with everything, allow extra time for your breaking, use slightly more rear brake, and then the front brake, it will amaze you how much smoother your slowing down is, and it helps stabilise the bike.

Changing down gears - as per dry riding, but more important in the wet, be sure to match the gear with the speed you are doing, allow the revs to drop, (with the clutch out!) before changing down. This will ensure that the back wheel doesn't lock up, and cause you to slide, and in conjunction with smooth use of the rear brake, and then the front brake, you can stop more smoothly.

Remember, the smoothness, and the extra braking distances required to stop, try to leave more time to do things, look further ahead, and be prepared to act earlier to any hazard that may present itself, and riding in the wet can be rewarding and educational, it will help you learn the limits of your bike, and will increase your reaction times, and the ability to look further ahead. This will translate to your dry riding.

Turning a motorcycle on such a slick surface demands an ultra-smooth approach. Getting on the brakes abruptly or making a sudden steering input could put you in a ditch, or worse. So you want to be slowed down before you go in there and keep the throttle neutral all the way through --and be ready for cars that might get unstuck and block the whole mess.

That smooth approach to speed and direction changes will serve you well on all wet roads. Initiate your turns a bit more gradually. Downshift smoothly, engaging the clutch a bit slower than usual, and avoid abrupt throttle changes. Get on the throttle progressively. Use a taller gear to reduce the forces reaching the rear tyre. Apply the brakes in such a way that the tyres are not loaded abruptly. Allow more space to stop or slow down so that you need less. And also make sure that drivers around you have time to react to your moves.

Next time that it's absolutely lashing down with rain, jump in your warm ,visible kit,  and go out, on purpose, with smoothness in mind, you can be amazed how much you learn

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