April showers bring May flowers. Spring has officially sprung, which means motorcycle season has begun (no I didn’t mean for that to rhyme). The only bad thing about this time of year is that we will see a lot more wet weather – at least here in Canada. It’s inevitable that you will get caught in the rain, whether you’re out on the weekend riding for a couple of hours, or just running a quick errand on your bike. The local weatherman is becoming harder to trust nowadays, so you never really know when a rain cloud will pop up over your head and start pouring down on you.
Some people love riding in the rain. Personally, I don’t like it. I’m not scared to do so, I just prefer not to so I don’t bother. You should still develop wet riding skills no matter if you enjoy venturing out in the rain or not, because like I said before, you never know when you might get caught in some bad weather. You’re not going to do anything different than you would riding on a dry road. As long as you stay aware, relaxed and confident, you should be fine.
How to ride your motorcycle in the rain
Cover Up & Stay Visible
First things first, you want to keep yourself dry, which can be hard when riding in the rain. Even the most expensive rain suits will be put to the test in a heavy rain storm. You should still invest in some type of protection if you like to go on long motorcycle trips, because no one likes to get wet. Take advantage of a full-face helmet as well, because it will keep the rain drops from smacking against your face while cruising. Visibility is also key when riding in the rain. We already went over how to make your motorcycle more visible, but your rain suit should have the same effect. If you can find a reflective rain suit, all the better. Bright colours work well too as opposed to black or neutral colours. You want to be seen at all costs, as the decreased visibility in the rain is one of the main reasons for accidents.
No matter if the roads are wet or dry, you need to stay calm on your motorcycle, and not be tense or stiff. Sit down in your regular riding position, rest your hands on the bars like you normally would, and make sure your elbows, shoulders and neck are free to move around. Keeping yourself loose, is also important in dry conditions, but even more important in wet conditions. You don’t need to ride any slower in the rain, but you won’t be able to lean suddenly. Just make sure to keep your eyes peeled for painted lines, manhole covers, train-tracks, puddles and any other obstacles that may cause you to break traction. Take it easy on and off the throttle and brakes, but balance your grip. When you’re riding in the rain, aim to complete your turns before you accelerate. The more you ride in wet conditions, the more your confidence will grow.
Your brakes aren’t as responsive on the wet roads, so its extremely important to stop at a safe distance when it’s raining. Also take your speed into consideration. You want to be able to slow down at a dependable time when the roads are slick. Ride at a speed that your brakes can handle and always over-estimate the time it will take you to stop. An important tip is never apply only the front brakes because it will cause your front wheel to slip.If your rear wheel slips, you can control it, but once your front wheel starts skidding, you’re in trouble. If you can apply a braking ratio of 60% rear brake and 40% front brake, you will be fine. Make sure to squeeze and not grab your brakes, as sudden shocks of force can break traction.
In summary, the best way to stay safe while riding your motorcycle in the rain, is to experience it first hand. The more practice you get, the safer you will be. Next time it starts to drizzle, take your bike out for a quick spin and you will become a pro wet weather rider in no time.