November is nearly here, and that means nasty weather in a lot of places. Does that mean you should stop riding your motorcycle? We at AMERiders say No Way! You just have to do it right. Here are some Tips to Motorcycle Riding in the Rain Safely!
A full tank of gas, beautiful traffic free roads, your bike humming between your legs and no need to get anywhere. What a wonderful scenario.
Then it starts to rain. Crap. What do you?
Motorcycle Riding in the Rain Safely is easy!
It is understandable why many people don’t ride in the rain for safety reasons. The static coefficient of friction between rubber and dry asphalt is about 0.9. Rubber and wet asphalt? Well, it is 0.25. What does this mean? Well, it means that you have a little more than 1/4 of the grip you would have normally. Does this mean you drive at 1/4 of the speed? No. What it means is that you have to be much, MUCH more careful.
What happens when there is
-Too much front brake? Front wheel locks up, you lose control of the bike, under-steers and you go down
-Too much rear brake? Back wheel locks, back end slides out, spins around and you go down
-Too much lean and you will low side. Tires simply don’t have the grip to hold onto that slick surface.
-Too much gas in a corner will cause the back wheel to spin. Backend slides out, and you go down.
Okay, we will give you enough of the don’t so and give you the. “What SHOULD you do ?”
The biggest trick to riding in the rain is to be smooth. Any sudden movements will almost always break traction and thus, bring you and the bike down. This isn’t the time to try your best Valentino Rossi impressions, its time for you to make it to your destination safely and in one piece. Another trick to riding safely (and not just in the rain) is to learn to recognize where you have traction and where you don’t.
In the dry, the main things you have to watch out for are steel manhole covers and railway tracks (especially in urban environments with streetcars).In the wet, the list extends to this:
These are EVERYWHERE and are unsafe for motorcyclists, particularly if you’re turning right or left and crossing the lines at an angle. Slow down try to make the turn as straight up as possible. Lane markings, crosswalk the diamonds in the HOV lane. all of these are now evil, slippery things that want nothing more than to bring you down.
Any painted line is a hazard to Riding in the Rain Safely. Until the DOT addresses the issue and comes up with a tackier texture you’re the one in control of your destiny.
Many commercial and residential parking areas are paved with very slick concrete surfaces. Your wet entry into the local mall or condo complex can put you on the ground in a second. Again, ride slow and straight up and don’t let the concrete bite you.
Manhole covers are enemy number one and railroad tracks rank a close second. Making a turn over the surface of them sets you up for trouble. Avoid such, or keep the bike straight up and cross over it slowly.
Railroad tracks have a way of popping up on you just after a turn and you may still be into a lean when you reach them. Look for the crossing signs ahead of time, slow down and stay straight up when crossing.
Grated bridge crossings and metal plates are a nasty encounter in the rain. Look at where you want to ride, take it slow and don’t try any quick maneuvering, particularly a lane change.
Puddles/Potholes…It only takes once to know how this one feels. You cruise through a puddle and after it’s too late you realize you just went into a pothole that wants to suck you into the underworld more painfully than Satan himself scrambling to meet Fridays quota. Avoid puddles if you can. Use caution and predict the possibility ahead of time. Recovery from this rude awakening is not always easy. Pull over and take a few minutes of rest if you need to gather your wits, and to recover from that nasty jolt.
It’s everywhere and very elusive. Those little red and blue rainbows on the ground mean danger. Ride slow and straighten up Because they can be a definate danger to keep you from Riding in the Rain Safely.
Its fall and leaves will be on the road. Ever slip on a patch of damp leaves on the sidewalk? Imagine what that same slip can do to you on a motorcycle. Avoid them as much as possible, and be SUPER careful if you have to ride through them
These little guys are bad enough in the dry, leading your wheels astray and messing with your lines, but in the wet, they are even worse than painted lines. They are very slick and the inconsistent nature of them means that if you aren’t paying attention and decide to brake at the wrong moment, you and your bike are going to have a very rapid introduction to that particular patch of ground. So pay attention to them that way you can continue to keep Riding in the Rain Safely.
The most dangerous time for a biker to be on the road is the first 10-20 minutes of a rainstorm. This is because the road is wet (duh) but all of the oils and dust and crap that gets washed off during the rain hasn’t had time to actually get washed off yet. So you have this layer of wet, oily, slimy…gunk on the road that just absolutely robs your tires of traction. It’s best to pull over (preferably somewhere with a roof) and wait for 15 to 20 minutes to let a majority of the gunk wash away.
As mentioned before, you have to change your riding for wet conditions. Around town, try to stay a gear or 2 higher than you normally would. The higher ratios of the other gears help reduce the amount of torque that is transferred to the back wheel.
Weirdly, on the highway, it is better to ride in a LOWER gear. “But wait, you just told me to ride in a high gear in town?” Yes, we did. That was in town. On the highway, you want to have more engine braking so you use your brakes less. Reasoning? Its far easier to accidentally lock up a back tire at 100km/h then at 30. So it is better to use engine braking. Also, riding in top gear – 1 @ cruising rpm really is how fast you should be riding in sub-par conditions.
For instance: on an SV650, a rider might normally cruise around at 5.5K rpm in 6th. When it starts to rain, they back down until they are at 5.5k RPM in 5th. If they need to drive with traffic, The rider would still stay in 5th. With the motor spinning that much higher, the rider knows that they are going a little too quickly for the conditions and that its time for them to either find a bridge to hide under, or pull off the highway and ride on slower roads. It may take them another 30 minutes to get home, but they will get home and don’t end up at the hospital.
The other big concern about Riding in the Rain Safely is visibility. Spray kicked up by the cars means you cant see them as well and MORE importantly, THEY don’t see you. Keep lots of extra space between you and the next guy. Avoid big-rigs like you avoid your mother-in-law, (just kidding mom we love you)
Remember to keep in mind what kinda of tires you have on your bike. A semi-slick sport-bike tire (like a Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa) is not going to be as good in the rain as something with a more aggressive tread pattern (like a Pirelli Sport Demon) This is just an example. We aren’t saying this is the tire to get. It’s just one that popped into our head. There are many more motorcycle tire manufacturers out there out on the market like Dunlop, Michelin, and Continental to name a few. These are important to Riding in the Rain Safely.
Pirelli Sport Demon
With a groove down the center, the Sport Demon displaces far more water and will have more grip with the bike straight up. The different compound in the Sport Demon will also work in your favor in the damp.
As always, remember to wear the right gear. Lots of people think that your jacket is the biggest thing you need worry about when Riding in the Rain Safely. While it is a big part, I would say its more important to get waterproof pants. Why? You can throw a poncho over/under your jacket to stay dry. But that water will roll down to your seat, and there are few things as uncomfortable as riding with a cold and damp butt. Gloves and shoes are big too. Numb limbs at the controls are never a good idea. Rain gear is better and can always be kept in a saddle bag Like the set below. This 1 Piece Rain Suit is easy to throw on and has reflectors as well.
The last thing we should mention is that you should expect to see steam. The front tire will kick water on your exhaust, or the rain will trickle down from up top. There may be times when you are riding in the rain and end up at a stop sign, that you will get a concerned motorist yelling at you: DUDE, YOUR BIKE IS ON FIRE! RUN AWAY FROM IT. After a quick explanation, they understand its just steam. The first time its funny. After the 7th, not so much.
Once you learn where the grip is, how to stay as visible as possible, get your riding smooth as silk, and get a more rain oriented tire, riding in the rain almost becomes fun! we enjoy doing it simply for the look people get on their faces when they see a bike toughing it out. A little damp, yes, But look at it this way: free bike wash!
~And as always….
~Live Free Ride Hard~
Let AMERiders give you Tips to Motorcycle Riding in the Rain Safely.
And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.