The rainy season could potentially spell disaster for two-wheeled commuters. Freshly-precipitated asphalt tends to be very slick due to the fact that rainwater brings all the oil, gunk, and soot to the surface. A sudden downpour also greatly affects visibility and could catch an unprepared rider off guard. Not to mention the danger of stopping under an overpass in the middle of speeding traffic poses to safety. When it comes to riding a motorcycle in the rain, preparedness is key. Here are a few tips to prepare you and help keep you safe while riding damp.
The temptation to forego key pieces of safety gear for the sake of comfort, especially during a downpour, is very strong. Wearing slippers instead of closed shoes, and shorts instead of pants in avoidance of the hassle of having to deal with these items being drenched seems like the more convenient option. However, given the fact that the road surface provides less traction, and the lowered visibility makes predicting hazards more challenging, the chances of you getting into a mishap are far greater in the rain. That means you are more likely to low side a corner, overshoot a turn, ram into another vehicle, or simply lose control of your motorcycle. That being said, you’d definitely want to be more geared up given that significant differential in odds.
Visibility is paramount
When it rains, visibility is hampered significantly both for you, and the motorists around you. As a rider, it is your responsibility to ensure that you can see and be seen. Given that most sensible riders would wear a helmet whenever they ride a motorcycle, it helps to put a layer of hydrophobic wax on the face shield or to purchase a pin-lock visor for your helmet if available.
Putting a layer of hydrophobic wax on the visor prevents water droplets from remaining on your visor, blocking your vision. Instead, it allows these water particles to simply slide off, keeping your vision clear. A pin-lock visor, on the other hand, prevents your visor from fogging up by providing a thin air pocket between the warmer inside of the helmet, and the colder outside. It is also important to keep yourself visible to other motorists. Make sure your jacket or vest has reflective areas or patches, and avoid wearing matte and drab-colored gear. Consider also installing a set of auxiliary lights onto your motorcycle.
Keep your bike in tip top shape
Keeping your motorcycle rubber side down should be our top priority, especially during the rainy season. Lots of mechanical gremlins reveal themselves in wet weather. Being complacent by allowing dirt and mud to build up on your bike, and not cleaning it for days, or even weeks only makes things worse.
Make sure that the vital fluids essential for your bike’s smooth operation are kept in check. Oil, coolant, and brake fluid, as well as brake pads and tire tread, should always be above optimum. It’s bad enough to have a bike break down on you in dry weather, it’s exponentially worse for a bike to break down on you in a torrential downpour. Of course, regardless of the weather, it’s an absolute necessity to ensure your steed is in good shape as well.
Waterproof your luggage
Having your wallet or phone damaged by rain is the last thing you’d want to happen while riding your motorcycle. Having a few differently-sized Ziploc bags in your backpack or storage compartment could come as a godsend in times of need. Of course, investing in a high quality waterproof motorcycle-specific bag would be the ideal route. Packing a full change of clothes could also be beneficial, especially given the fact that waterproof gear, despite keeping you dry from rainwater, will make you sweat buckets underneath.
As is the case in all weather conditions, anticipation is key. A seasoned motorcyclist has the ability to accurately predict what will happen seconds before it actually does. The wet road surface slightly decreases our tires’ ability to turn and stop the bike, as such having a heightened sense of anticipation is a must in wet-weather conditions.
Thinking ahead also includes the foresight in planning your routes and what you bring for the day. It may seem clear and sunny when you wake up in the morning, but end up raining torrents in the evening when you’re about to head home. Check your phone’s built-in weather app before leaving the house so you can decide whether or not to pack extra clothes, or wear your waterproof gear throughout the day. Stay clear of flood-prone roads and puddles on the road. And lastly, if the weather is just too unruly for you to manage, or if you feel your skills are not yet at the level needed in order to safely commandeer your motorcycle in stormy weather, swallow your pride and take four wheels to work instead.
Riding a motorcycle in rainy weather need not be a hassle. In fact, riding in the rain is arguably one of the best ways to gain experience in total motorcycle control, as the thresholds for everything are a lot lower. Grip and braking performance are lower, not to mention visibility and temperatures as well. All it takes is practice, good foresight, and a strong sense of adventure.