At first riding in wet weather seems a bit daunting. Truth is, it really isn’t that bad and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. Here are a few pointers to help you ride better in the rain.
- Trust your rubber! You have way more grip than you believe you do. Watch the following http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6-h2YZXnzo
for examples of how much traction your tires can get on wet roads.
The first few minutes of rain after a dry day will be a bit slippery but once all the dirt and oil has washed off, your bike should grip pretty well. Just knowing this fact can improve how well you ride in the rain, because otherwise you’re riding with fear that at any time you could slip and tear your pants at the bum, and no one wants that. Riding with fear or in panic mode is never good in any situation. It ruins how well you react to sketchy situations.
I have a theory that bodaboda guys ride very well in the mud simply because they are not afraid of it. That alone reduces the chances of things going wrong because you stay calm, let your bike do its work and leaves you with room to handle any curve balls thrown at you.
It goes without saying that your tires need to be in good condition if you want any form of grip.
- Stay dry and warm. Being wet and/or cold will take away your focus and dexterity. You won’t be able to handle your bike as well as you normally do.
- Be gentle with your brake and throttle inputs. Brake early and use both your brakes.
- Make sure you can see. Clean your visor, and only use a clean soft cloth when wiping it. Any rough or dirty cloth will scratch your visor and effects of these scratches on your visor will become very ‘clear’ when you have drops of water on the visor. There are various products you can apply on the outer side of your visor that make the droplets bead up and slide off very easily. These greatly improve your vision. Personally I’ve used “turtle wax rain repellent” which you can find at any motor boutique.
- Make sure others can see you. Both your head and tail lights should be on and visible. Wear a reflector as well or add reflective strips to your helmet and jacket or backpack. That being said, ride with the assumption that no one can see you. Stay on your side mirrors whenever you’re braking and generally just stay more alert because, as you’ll find out, drivers and pedestrians are usually less alert whenever it’s not sunny.
- Stay calm and avoid road rage.If you go over those points again, you’ll notice that they aren’t necessarily specific to riding in wet conditions. They are things you should be doing every time you are riding on the road. In other words, if you ride properly in dry conditions, you shouldn’t need to change anything when riding in wet conditions.
Some things to look out for with regards to your bike:
1. Rain will wash away the lubrication on your chain pretty fast. Make sure to wash if necessary and lubricate it regularly. Without doing this your chain will start to rust.
2. If your bike is parked outside and you’re not riding it for a long time, let’s say more than three days; cover it with a waterproof cover.
3. This is especially for carbureted bikes. If your bike gets rained on and when you go to ride it, it goes off immediately you touch the throttle; you have water in your carburetor. Luckily, pretty much all carburetors have an easy way to drain them. At the bottom of the carburetor should be a screw which when opened will empty the carburetor bowl of its contents, make sure to turn off the fuel tap before opening the screw. If this doesn’t remedy the issue then you have water in your fuel tank :(If someone cuts you off or does something that you didn’t like, let them be. Pick up from where you were and carry on with your ride. You can even turn it into a game, try and predict who’ll do something stupid on the road, and anytime you predict something correctly, reward yourself. Something like 5 minutes of extra sleep per correct prediction, your boss will understand. You’ll quickly find out that it’s not that hard to predict a lot of the dumb things drivers tend to do. For me, it’s helped me stay very alert on the road while I’m riding.
Riding in the rain can be fun and very safe but, all that being said, don’t force yourself to ride in conditions your gut tells you not to. You don’t have anything to prove to anyone so just stay safe and ride only when you’re comfortable doing so.