Eventually every motorcycle rider is going to end up riding in the rain. I’ve had lots of people look at me in horror when they see me going to my motorcycle in the rain. They ask, “won’t your motorcycle slip and fall in the rain?” Of course, the answer is, “no.” With a few precautions riding in the rain is no big deal; here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t panic – This is the most important thing to remember. If you are nervous you’ll be distracted and unable to give your full concentration to riding. Take a deep breath and remember people ride in the rain every day.
Take it easy – This probably goes without saying: ride more conservatively in the rain. Give yourself extra room between you and the car in front of you so you don’t have to stop short. Be cautious in the corners, try to keep the bike fairly upright.
Watch for slippery stuff – Contrary to what some people think the pavement itself is not slippery. Think about when you go out walking in the rain. Do your sneakers slip on the road? There are some things that will be slippery. Metal manhole covers and sewer grates are slippery. Newer painted lines in the road can be slippery, especially the ones with reflective paint. This doesn’t mean you should avoid them at all costs, just take it easy when driving on them and be cautious making turns on lines. Any kind of stone or brick, like a brick crosswalk or cobblestone street, will be slick. Oil and other liquids that have spilled on the road will also be quite slippery. This is really the time to avoid the center of the lane near intersections where cars often leak oil. In the fall, wet leaves are another hazard to avoid.
Puddles – Be cautious of large puddles as you never know what kind of pothole, gravel patch or other debris is hidden beneath the surface. You also should avoid stopping in the middle of a large puddle – cross the whole puddle at once and at a decent speed.
Dress appropriately – Of course, you should always wear proper gear when riding a motorcycle but there are some extra things to keep in mind when it is raining. Because visibility is poor when it is raining, wearing “high viz” colors can help you be seen. You might consider keeping a small high viz vest in your saddle bags.
You also want to try and wear something waterproof. Being soaking wet and cold can be really lousy and distracting when you are trying to pay attention to the road. Some motorcycle coats and pants come with zip in rain liners. There are also lots of motorcycle specific rain suits out there including Frog Toggs, which are both waterproof and breathable. (Get one of the bright colors like yellow!)
Finally, you should be prepared for the visor of your helmet to fog up. There are a few remedies for this on the market. Some of the nicer helmets offer pin lock visors which create a layer of air between the visor and pin lock piece so fog can’t build up. There are also various wipes and polishes on the market that help keep fog away to varying degrees. A cheap solution that also works for some people is to clean your visor with a bit of dish soap – juts be sure to clean it all off!
Your engine will steam – This is normal. The very hot engine is getting wet and creating steam. The first time you see it this will probably startle you. Just remember steam is normal and it’s not smoke. If it were smoke you would smell it.
All these tips should help you with riding in the rain and being relaxed. Of course, you need to use your own best judgment before riding in bad weather. If you are feeling too nervous or uncomfortable don’t get on the bike. Also, be realistic about the weather. Riding in a light shower is different then riding in torrential rains or thunderstorms.
What are your experiences riding in the rain?