The rainy season is here and shows no signs of letting up anytime soon. However, just because it's raining doesn't mean you can't ride. Long-distance touring is particularly fun in rainy weather, provided that it doesn't rain so hard that it's not safe to hit the road. The cool weather and wet roads dial the pace down, allowing you to enjoy the sights and sounds of riding.
Nevertheless, riding in the rain takes its toll on both man and machine. It requires heightened awareness and faster reflexes, and it also puts more strain on our bikes, especially in the mechanical and electrical components. That said, let's look at a few things to keep in mind if you plan on going on long rides in the rain.
Indeed, rain gear is a must for a rainy ride. It's not just about staying dry but also about staying warm. Temperatures can drop rapidly during a rainy ride, and windchill plays a significant role. Waterlogged clothes can make you cold, which can accelerate fatigue. Pay particular attention to keeping your hands dry as they control the throttle, brakes, and clutch. Additionally, ensure your feet stay warm, as they operate the shifter and rear brake. Keeping your torso warm is also crucial, as you need to move your body effectively while cornering on your motorcycle. Staying warm and dry contributes significantly to making your rainy ride enjoyable.
Weatherproof your ride
Wet and rainy weather can have a significant impact on bikes. Most bikes don't handle prolonged water exposure well, leading to potential issues with sensitive electronics, loss of lubrication to moving parts, and accelerated wear and tear on the paint. Weatherproofing your bike is a wise approach to keep it safe in the rain. Ensure that the electrical system has no exposed wires, and keep your chain well lubricated. It's a good idea to carry a small bottle of chain lube on longer rides. Applying ceramic coating or PPF (paint protection film) on your bike's painted surfaces can offer protection against the abrasion of road grime, mud, dust, and sand. These measures will help extend the life and performance of your bike during rainy rides.
Check your tires
It's crucial to ensure your tires are designed for rainy conditions. This means avoiding racing slicks or hypersport tires. Sport-touring tires are ideal as they offer good wet grip due to higher silica content and are designed for all-weather use. Check that your tires are not worn out and are far away from the wear indicators. Additionally, make sure the tire pressures are within the recommended specifications. Double-check the production date of your tires to ensure they are not expired, as expired rubber loses its elasticity and, consequently, its ability to grip the road and evacuate water effectively. Keeping your tires in good condition is vital for a safe and enjoyable ride in the rain.
Check your brakes
In rainy conditions, brakes may respond more slowly due to the water layer forming between the rotor and pads, which needs to be overcome before slowing down effectively. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure your brakes are in good shape. Check your brake fluid and make sure it is topped up and in good condition. Inspect your brake rotors for any cracks, pitting, or deformation. Also, check the brake pads to see if they are evenly worn and still have enough life left in them. Proper maintenance of your brakes is essential for your safety and control, especially during rainy rides.
Last but most certainly not least, riding in the rain demands mental preparedness and a strong desire for adventure. Always think ahead, whether on the highway or twisty roads, by looking far ahead to calculate your moves and anticipate obstacles and hazards. Allocate longer braking distance and be gentle with the accelerator to maintain control in wet conditions. Keep in mind that even bikes with advanced traction control systems may not fully prevent wheel spin in rainy weather. Plan your stops strategically to rest, rehydrate, and occasionally inspect your bike. Staying mentally focused and prepared will ensure a safer and more enjoyable rainy ride.