Riding in Rainy Conditions

One of the most dangerous and tricky conditions you could encounter while riding is rainy conditions. It does a double whammy by making the roads really slippery and reducing visibility. This all might seem like the worst conditions to ride a motorcycle but it is actually the opposite. If done right, few things can feel as fun and as enjoyable as riding in the rain. There are a few things to keep in mind while doing so. While being fun, it can be incredibly dangerous too if you do not take the necessary precautions. Here is a set of guidelines that will help you ride in the rain without being in a position that endangers your life and your well-being.

 

The braking distance will increase:

Your braking distance depends on two things. The friction between the brake pads and the disk or drums and the friction between the road and the tires on your bike. Both reduce by huge amounts during a rain. This means that you will have to brake earlier than you would in the dry. This means that you need to change your normal instincts. The first time you ride in the rain, it is best to do so at a lower speed. This will give you a greater reaction time and will help you avoid lose grip. Once you ride a few times in the rain, you will get the hang of it and you can ride just as nonchalantly in the rain as you would in the dry.

 

The grip will reduce massively:

This is another very important aspect of riding in the rain that you have to keep in mind. The grip between the tires and the road is at its highest when it is dry and the tires are warm. This means that during a rain, the tire loses both these properties. The cold reduces the stickiness of the tire and the water reduces the coefficient of friction resulting in the tire being unable to stick to the road properly. This will cause the tire to slide around instead of rolling like it normally does which makes it incredibly difficult to control the motorcycle. Thankfully, modern tire manufacturers have added grooves on to the tires for this specific purpose. They allow the tire to still grip the roads a bit so that you have some semblance of control over the motorcycle.

 

The motorcycle might move around a bit:

The above mentioned reasons will mean that occasionally you will run into a situation where the motorcycle slides around a bit. The important thing to understand is that this isn’t the end of the world for you. In fact it is great fun to ride a bike that is sliding around a bit. The trick again is not to panic but to learn to steer the motorcycle. It is similar to a car and you have to steer into the slide but the difference is that this steering is not done by the handlebars but by your bodyweight. Gently lean away from the direction the motorcycle slides and the slide can be controlled. With time it will also become second nature to you and before long you will be riding like a pro even if the motorcycle steps out a bit.

 

Things to avoid:

To make life easier, here are a few things to avoid while riding in the rain. This will allow you to ride safely and enjoy the rain like you are supposed to instead of being terrified by it.

 

  • Riding without any protection: While you should always be wearing the right gear at all times, it becomes critical in the rain. A good set of riding boots is a necessity. Checkout the line-up at OpenRoadGirl.com for some really cool boots. Also wear proper gloves and jackets and the right type of helmet. Wear a good pair of goggles as the raindrops can feel like a million needles piercing your eyes when riding the motorcycle. Some helmets come with a good visor but make sure it does not fog up. A trick to avoid this is by keeping it slightly open so that there is no fog buildup on the inside.
  • Flowing water: Occasionally you will come across streams of water flowing either along the road or across it. It is best to navigate these streams at low speeds. Be ready to put your feet down and arrest any slide. Flowing water means that there is an extra force acting on the tires which can be devastating if you are pushing the motorcycle too hard. Even pro racers do not like flowing water but as long as you are riding at a low speed, they shouldn’t cause too much trouble. Spotting them also becomes easier if you aren’t riding too fast and you can slow your motorcycle down well before reaching the said stream.
  • Deep standing water: While a wet road can be fairly easy to ride on with the right tires, a road with standing water can be really tricky. Again the important thing to do is slow down as much as possible. If the water is clean and you can see the surface of the road then ride slowly through it but if it is murky water and you are unable to see the surface of the road then turn back or find a way around it. This is because the water could be hiding things you could trip over or potholes and cracks too dangerous to navigate safely.
  • Following traffic closely: This all ties down to the facts we mentioned earlier. The grip being low and the low visibility means that you might not have enough time to brake in an emergency and end up colliding with whoever is in front. Keep enough distance from the traffic ahead so that you can be confident of stopping in time. In the same vein, make yourself visible by using the lights on your motorcycle and avoid the blindspots of cars and other vehicles around you.

 

Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

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