This article was written to ENCOURAGE motorcyclists to get out there in the rain!
Like any experienced
lover motorcycle rider, you should know that being too aggressive is often a quick way to getting a black eye or a broken arm, instead the best results are usually achieved from being smooth and gentle. The best lovers riders, will take their time. Always ensure that things are are warmed up properly (your tyres), especially in ‘wet’ and slippery conditions.
Yes, there is definitely a time and place to be a fast passionate
lover rider, where you can be really vigorous (with the throttle) and aggressive (on the brakes). This is often when you take a special trip away from home. (What I’m obviously saying is that Track Day performances, belong on the track – where you have the proper protection, no traffic coming the other direction, gravel traps for when you don’t judge that corner just right and you’ll have a full race suit on.)
‘Feathering’ the Throttle.
Be gentle on the throttle: rain reduces the friction coefficient you have to work with between your tyres and the road. Your aim is to apply your acceleration force GENTLY, keep the force you apply as you accelerate, progressively even, consistent and smooth (a higher ‘shock’ force is generated if you ‘snap’ the throttle quickly open – the tyre can break loose by exceeding the available grip and your wheel will spin). If you spin the rear tyre, just try not to panic, remember you are a smooth and gentle rider. If you are lucky enough to be still upright, try to ‘ride it out’ , let your machine come back to a straight line, then GENTLY come back off the gas, no sharp corrective turning, no sharp braking.
The only real way to prepare for the feeling of the rear ‘letting go’ or ‘stepping out/spinning up’ is to get some experience of it actually happening! Book yourself into an advanced rider course, or take a blast on a dirt bike and purposefully get that tail slipping around. Consider enrolling in a stunt program and get some rolling burnout hooliganism under your belt, in the name of safety! Remember you want to be as familiar with this drifting ‘feeling’ so that when it happens unexpectedly, you will be better placed with some muscle memory to know naturally what to do.
If you have traction control settings or rider modes, please use them! You are not going to impress anyone in the hospital emergency room by letting them know that you have balls SO large, that you NEVER use rain mode.
A Gentleman never ‘grabs’ (the brakes)!
Even those of you with ABS please do apply the following techniques. You have ABS as a final protective measure, it is designed to help prevent lock-up in those situations where at the last minute you have had to hit the brakes hard, unexpectedly. (Yes track riders will be pushing up against the limits of ABS, but we’re talking reasonable (wet) road riding here.) The way you should be braking in rain..you guessed it.. ‘gentle and smooth’. Plan your braking even further ahead verus when riding on dry roads, consider the extra time you need to gently bring your machine to a stop. Imagine you have a glass of water balanced on your handle bars…you should be braking so smoothly and gently that you’re not going to spill a drop.
Respect Road markings.
A massive white arrow painted on the road – or a line in the middle of the road will both present you an area that is more slippery than that the rest of the asphalt. Your best option is to plan your line to avoid these markings (defensive riding) otherwise, imagine those markings are like an oil slick, or ice. This means basically no braking while on top of them, only mildest steering input, and the application of a flat/even throttle (or even rolling off the throttle).
Corner gently BUT deliberately.
Your bike’s geometry behaves essentially in the same way in the wet as it does it in the dry. Drive through corners in the same even and deliberate way as you would in the dry; but aim to maximise your gentleness & smoothness as turn and transition. Plan your corner knowing it is best to have a decreased overall cornering speed versus what you would plan in dry conditions. As you are coming into the corner with gentle/smooth braking applied, plan a smooth gentle line through. As you reach the point where you are beginning to ‘roll on’ again, do so, but gently, this is loading your rear tyre evenly and still working weight onto the rear suspension which helps keep your bike settled and stable as you drive deliberately but gently out of the turn. No ‘coasting’ guys, you are asking for trouble.
What about Tire’s
The key is having a tire with a tread pattern made to slice through and disperse water, this helps avoid aquaplaning and will keep your rubber planted on the road! There are a number of fantastic all round touring tires than are not just good wet , but are fantastic for everyday use , touring, and a back road blast on the twists. We recommend The Michelin Pilot Road series, a fantastic wet tire and a great all rounder.
Tire pressure is a contentious issue, some riders will recommend a slight increase in PSI, others a slight decrease..we recommend that you keep your pressures in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines for the bike and the weight you riding with. On the streets, it’s not worth changing the tire pressures outside the manufacturer’s guidelines just to suit riding conditions.
Helmet considerations for the riding in the rain?
Firstly, if you can, get a pin-lock system onto your visor to prevent fogging, really does a fantastic job. We also found this fantastic device that attached to a finger on your glove – a mini wind-shield wiper blade!
Motorcycle Clothing for wet weather riding?
Firstly, protecting your body from rain and cold will make you feel much more comfortable on the bike, and as I’ve mentioned in my post about Cold Hands – being distraction is super important.
If it’s raining, you are even less visible – rain decreases visibility (not just for you but for all other road users) Swallow your pride guys, seek out rain gear that has reflective elements. Some of the best examples of wet we have found include: please follow the links to have a more detailed look, get yourself properly kitted out now.
Ride Smart, ride safe.