Rain. The cease of fun on a motorcycle
Sometimes, you might check the sky from the window and take a decision based on the different shades of gray. But what if you are already on the road and you simply have no choice? Before getting to our tips we should talk about the variables of this equation: You+(Motorcycle x Tires) = Grip. Or something similar (Disclosure: I’m not a mathematician)
Understanding the surface
The tarmac condition changes a lot when it’s wet. You’re probably conscious about that. But what might surprise you is the fact that it continues to change when it’s already wet. To give you an example, there is a huge difference between light spray rain and heavy rain. Between warm weather and cold temperature. And when it rains for a longer period of time you should keep in mind that the quantity of water on the road is increasing and that means the grip conditions are constantly changing.
Understanding your motorcycle
Hard suspensions are precise but in slippery conditions, they don’t give enough time to the tires to adapt. That’s why an Adventure bike on wet feels better to ride than a sports bike. The Geometry of the chassis and the weight distribution is also crucial. Sports bike have more load in the front which is not ideal in the rain. They also develop grip from hard acceleration and hard braking. Again an adventure bike will give you more confidence. But all this has to go through a pretty important variable. The tires.
It is obvious that the motorcycle you ride and the tires it fits have a tremendous impact on the grip. You can have the best suspensions and the best setup but if you have the wrong tires it’s not going to work. All your riding modes, electronic controls, chassis, fork, rear shock, everything will go through the tires. If they’re not suitable for the rain everything will feel wrong.
Use the right gear
What you wear shouldn’t just be safe, it should be waterproof and warm too. Take an overall with you, you might look like a trash bag with a helmet but don’t worry because when it rains everybody is just looking where they’re going unless there is a girl in a summer dress without an umbrella. In case you’re on a long ride in the rain you should be aware of heat dissipation. It means that your body will slowly cool down and when you will notice it, you will be so cold that a short pause won’t help.
Top 5 tips to ride in the rain
#1 Smoothness is the key
If you quickly flick the bike in the corner, you will lose grip. Same for hard braking and fast accelerating. Poor grip conditions don’t like sudden movements.
Do this: A good throttle control is important for your traction. Apply the brakes and gas gently and give the time to the suspensions to adapt and work properly.
#2 Keep the distance
Since you can’t brake hard or quickly dodge something in front of you, you should be aware of your surroundings. This is your vital space. Think about the mistakes of others. If you don’t scan the space around you, you won’t have room for corrections.
Do this: keep the distance from other vehicles according to speed and common sense.
#3 Visibility is an issue
Not only the rain in front of you, the drops on your visor, and the spray of dirt and water from other vehicles will limit your visibility. There is another important factor that can limit your sight to almost zero. A steamed visor.
Do this: Choose your helmet and visor carefully. Style is important but looking where you’re going is even more.
#4 Know the limit your bike and tires
On a wet road, the riding quality and grip of your motorcycle change a lot. On dry, a sports bike with semi-slick tires can carry more lean angle than a touring bike with touring tires. But in the rain, it might be the opposite.
Do this: Be careful when you lean the bike. Do it gradually to avoid bad surprises and unexpected reactions.
#5 A slide on wet is different
The loss of grip is not like on a dry road. You’re less likely to get a notice and a slide on wet is difficult to recover.
Improving your riding skills in the rain requires time and a lot of care. Since there are many variables that mix the result, be suspicious. Don’t assume the bike will behave the same under the rain.
# Bonus track Aquaplaning
Aquaplaning happens when the water per second coming from the front is more than the tire tread can go through. When you come at this point, the tire rides on the water losing the contact with the ground. Now you’re most likely to experience a tank slapper. If you’re lucky enough to keep the bike upright, this is the most important thing to do: nothing. Let the bike run, just moderate the speed but don’t shut the throttle in any case.
Ride with care.
By Cjp24 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Credits