We’ve all had those horrible rides when you are miles from home and the weather takes a turn for the worse, forcing you to ride home wet, cold, and miserable—not to mention at an increased risk of an accident. But riding in the rain or cold doesn’t always have to be a bad experience. With some preparation, the right attitude, and knowledge of what to look for and expect, it can be much less frustrating and sometimes even enjoyable.
The right attitude, knowledge, and preparation are all it takes to shed some light on that rainy ride.Kevin Wing
Wear Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear
Perhaps the most important part of riding in the rain or cold is wearing the appropriate gear. If you can stay warm and dry, that will go a long way to reducing the misery and keeping you more alert for danger. Waterproof, insulated pants and jacket, or a rainsuit, are the obvious musts, but also consider insulated gloves and boots that will keep your extremities nice and cozy.
Layer up with undergarments in colder weather, and for extreme cold, you might have to resort to electric accessories, such as a heated vest or grips. Up top, use a balaclava or neck warmer to stop the wind from getting to your neck and the rain from dripping off your helmet into your jacket. It’s also important to use some type of fog-free visor for clear vision. The end goal of all this gear is that you want to be comfortable, warm, and dry. Numb fingers will prevent you from working the controls properly, and there’s nothing like a wet crotch to distract you from your riding. In dodgy weather, you need full control and all your focus on the task at hand.
Ride Your Motorcycle As Smoothly As Possible
The key to staying upright in slippery conditions is being smooth with your control inputs: Gentle on the throttle, the brakes, and steering. With reduced traction you won’t be able to brake, accelerate, or lean to the extent you would on smooth, dry pavement (though you may be surprised at just how hard you can accelerate or especially brake), but more importantly those inputs need to be made in small, gentle increments so as not to unsettle the chassis. This means braking earlier than usual, for example, with a steady application and less outright lever pull as usual. In turn, this means looking even farther ahead than normal for potential dangers and being ready to act.
Ride On As Much Dry Pavement As You Can
Just as racers hunt for a dry line to optimize traction on a wet track, you should watch for the same. Riding on the street does present some different variables, however. Watch out for sealer, manhole covers, leaves, painted lines, and other slippery objects. Areas under trees tend to collect debris as well as stay wet longer than open areas. Note that cars generally drip oil on the center of each lane, making it more slippery than the edges, especially in the initial rainfall before the oil gets washed away. And car tires will dry the edges of each lane well before the center, making the edges of the lane even more attractive. Again, it’s a matter of keeping your gaze a bit farther ahead than normal and being on the lookout for those areas that offer the most grip.
Intersections pose even more of a threat than usual in the rain for a variety of reasons. Drivers are even less likely to see you because of their reduced vision, and the pavement is often even more treacherous because intersections are full of painted lines and oil collected from idling cars. Approach each intersection with reduced speed, leaving plenty of room should you need to stop. Increase the gap between yourself and the cars in front, and if you do have to stop at the intersection, keep an eye on your mirrors for a vehicle that may not be able to stop. All this heightened concentration can also make you tense and sap your energy in a hurry, but, again, try to stay relaxed with light and smooth control inputs, focusing on your riding and what’s going on around you.
With experience, you will learn more about what to look for and become better able to cope with the various situations presented by rain and cold conditions, and this will make you more inclined to take your bike rather than the car when it comes time to leave the house. If you are warm, dry, and comfortable on your bike, there’s no reason that a ride in the rain or cold needs to be any less enjoyable than one in the summer.
By Andrew Trevitt https://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/grim-climate-forecasts-point-to-shrivelling-rivers-in-northern-nsw-20210618-p5829d.html