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What is hydroplaning and how do I avoid it on a motorcycle?

Here’s how to avoid turning your bike into a surfboard.

What is hydroplaning and how do I avoid it on a motorcycle?

Riding in the wet can be a divisive activity. Some riders are confident enough in their skills and bikes, so wet surfaces are no longer a problem. On the other hand, many motorcyclists will avoid rain-drenched or otherwise wet roads. 

These riders want to protect their sportbikes, naked bikes, touring bikes, and other motorcycles. That's understandable. Still, even if you rarely ride on wet roads, it's worth learning about something called hydroplaning. If you ever find yourself in less than desirable riding conditions, this could save your life.

What is hydroplaning?

Riding on wet road

Hydroplaning, also known as aquaplaning, is a phenomenon of uncontrollable sliding on a wet surface. Hydroplaning happens when the tires lose their grip on the road. This loss of traction forces the vehicle to ride on top of a thin water level. It can happen at any time. From light drizzles to heavy downpours, hydroplaning is something that should not be taken lightly.

How to avoid hydroplaning on a motorcycle

Delivery rider on wet road

Avoiding a hydroplaning situation involves several key points. Traction is among the most crucial ones. Note that tires, especially motorcycle tires, are built to withstand and quickly get rid of water. While these tires do the job and work well, they are not impervious to aquaplaning. Also, your riding skills will play a big part in whether you can come out of a hydroplaning incident unscathed. So, when faced with wet road conditions, keep these tips in mind.

The first thing to keep in check is tire pressure. We've covered how bike tires are wicked little things that can take a lot of punishment. Your tires can't reach their full potential if they're not inflated properly. Some riders deflate their tires slightly in preparation for riding in the wet, and this can indeed help.

When you decrease tire pressure, you conversely increase the tire's contact patch on the road. That can help with maintaining traction in wet riding conditions. How much pressure to release depends on your particular bike and tires, so you may have to do some research to know what's best.

Second, when riding in the wet, you have to be extra cautious. There are more risks in these situations, so consider riding slowly if you're not in any type of hurry. This careful and deliberate riding style can carry you through water without a scratch and help you avoid hydroplaning.

If you're riding through deeper waters, don't panic. Your instincts and quick reflexes can make all the difference. When navigating a flood, avoid staying in one spot for too long. Stay vigilant and avoid areas where the water gets too deep. That will give you the best chance to maintain traction and get to where you're going safely.


Hydroplaning can be a dangerous situation, especially on a motorcycle. Traction is crucial to how bikes stay planted on the road. When traction is reduced, such as when hydroplaning, it may cause you to lose control of and even crash your bike. No rider wants anything to do with an accident.

That said, perhaps the best way to avoid hydroplaning is to avoid riding in the wet altogether. However, we understand that sometimes riders have no choice but to brave wet road conditions. If you absolutely must do it, remember our tips and ride safely.

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