Nov 13, 2008

Let It Rain - Riding Motorcycles When It's Wet

Let It Rain - Riding Motorcycles When It's Wet

When I first started riding motorcycles, rain clouds were my kryptonite. At the first sign of a dark cloud in the sky, my super-will to ride began to weaken and I raced home in search of a roof to hide under.

If I happened to get caught in the stuff - which was rare - I HATED it. Scared out of my wits with a death grip on the motorcycle's handlebars, I would swear from that point forward I would only ride on days of 0% humidity and no clouds in the sky.

Then, life happened. Time got more precious, a wife, family commitments, work responsibilities, etc, etc all began to eat into my riding time. So, to ride more, I had to take more chances and ride when weather conditions were less than ideal. Naturally, I got caught in the rain more, and you know what? I still hated it.

Then something clicked. Something happened, like in the movies when the ray of light from the sky shines down upon the main character and the choir sings in the background - except much less dramatic. I had been doing a lot more multi-day motorcycle trips which naturally means you are going to get caught in the rain more. Multi-day motorcycle trips also mean you have to bring more gear with you to accommodate a wide variety of climates. As I was building up my gear supply, I decided to purchase a rain suit.

This brings me to the first tip for riding motorcycles in the rain:

Tip #1 ? Buy the right gear

Frankly, if you read no more than this, I'd be happy. When I first got caught in the rain and I slipped that rain suit on, it was like a whole other world. I was (mostly) dry and even more important, comfortable! Meaning I spent more time concentrating on the road and riding the motorcycle versus thinking about how miserable it is in the rain.

Lot's of people I know (including me) are anti-gear. They either don't see the point, don't want to spend the money, think it looks funny, etc, etc. If you fall into this camp, I'm willing to bet you are spending a lot of time not enjoying riding motorcycles because you are uncomfortable in rain, cold, heat, whatever.

Get the right gear, and you'll find you can enjoy riding a lot more often. Personally, I now enjoy riding in the rain, it's just another thing for me to experience on my motorcycle.

Here's what you'll want to make sure you have on any particular outing/trip:
1. High quality rain suit (you get what you pay for, check out my article on one that fails miserably: Tourmaster Standard Rainsuit )
2. Waterproof boots that cover your ankles (so water doesn't seep in from above)
3. Waterproof gloves, preferably with one of those squeegees on the thumb to clean your visor with.

After you have the right gear, riding motorcycles in the rain is no longer uncomfortable or miserable. Riding in the rain becomes a simple exercise in common sense and knowledge of the conditions around you. That's what we'll focus on for the rest of the article.

Tip #2 ? The first 15 minutes after it starts raining are the slickest. Pull over and get some coffee.

This simple fact is because vehicles deposit oil, brake fluid, fuel, and lots of other crud on the road over time. When it rains, all of this crud that was built up on the road mixes with the water and sits on top just waiting for your two wheeled ride to hit it.

The best strategy to take? Pull over for gas, a coffee, whatever when it first starts to rain. Can't pull over? Just drive extra careful and slow during the start of any rain shower.

Tip #3 ? Avoid shiny-smooth surfaces.

What do I mean particularly? Most obvious is anything metal - train tracks, man hole covers, metal grates on bridges, etc. Less obvious is anything painted: lane lines, turn arrows, etc. I guarantee you that trying to stop on one of those giant painted turn arrows at an intersection is going to be much more difficult than plain old asphalt.

Tip #4 ? Slow Down!

Ok, so this one is pretty self explanatory but, for those of you that have been dropped on your head a few more times than rain, surfaces are slicker than usual - water acts as a lubricant. This means your brakes are less effective, which means its going to take much longer to stop when it's wet than when it's dry. Plus, when it boils down to it would you rather start fish tailing at 20 miles an hour or 40 miles an hour?
No rain suit is going to keep you dry from peeing on yourself.

Tip #5 ? Ride behind one of the rear wheels of the car in front of you

This has two benefits, first if the guy in front of you stops suddenly you will be able to swerve to a side and get a few more feet of braking distance (which you'll need).

The second benefit is, remember that watery sludge that we described above? The car's wheel in front of you basically acts like a plow pushing all of the water on the road out of the way for a brief period of time. Take advantage of that (slightly) dryer pavement!

Tip #6 ? Unsure about traction? Test it!

As it should be, traction is usually any rider's biggest concern in the rain. Surprisingly though, wet pavement can offer significantly more traction than some riders think. If you're concerned about traction, take a few seconds to test it.

While riding at a moderate speed on a straight, level surface, feel for how much traction you have with your rear wheel (not your front!) by trying to lock it up. You are not trying to do a 50 ft skid here, just a brief test to see how much traction you really have.

Tip #7 ? Use a full face helmet, or buy a detachable face shield.

Rain drop's hurt at 50 mph. In fact, you will think it's hailing. If you ride with an open face helmet you'll want to get something to protect your face. I always carry a bandanna and cover my face with it in the rain.

Don't get caught with nothing to cover up with, you will be pink in the face by the end of that ride (and I'm not speaking figuratively here).

Tip #8 ? The Rule of One Action

I know that you are a very complicated person, but in the rain, you need to be a very simple person. Specifically, in the rain, you should think about your tires and what I call the rule of "One Action." What do I mean by "One Action"?

In normal conditions, we put our tires through many different stresses (or actions):
? We accelerate while turning. (two actions)
? We downshift while coming into a turn. (two actions)
? Shifting weight while turning and accelerating (three actions)
? Etc.

In the rain, you should focus on only putting your tires through one action at a time.

In other words, accelerate (one action) after you make a turn (one action). Downshift (one action) before you start to turn (one action). Etc. Don't combine actions on your tires together in the rain. Less tension on your tires in the rain is going to result in better traction.

I'm sure there are more great tips out there for riding motorcycles in the rain, these are the main ones I follow while riding when it's wet out.

To say the least, rain is no longer my kryptonite after taking these tips to heart!

I hope that you'll find that riding in the rain safely is quite doable and even enjoyable if you get the right gear, stay sharp, and pay attention to your surroundings.

The translation into Malay (thanks to bro iwae405)

Hujan pon takpe - Bawak motor mase hujan

Mase aku mule2 naik motor,aku fobia dengan awan ujan. Ade je tande2 nak hujan,semangat nak riding tu dah luntur dan aku sering race balik umah teros taknak kne ujan.

Kadang2 terperangkap jugak dalam ujan nih dan aku seruis mmg benci gile. Takut pnya pasal, grip handle sekuat hati then raseserik nak ride. kalo nak ride pon kne tgk time awan langsung takde n kadar kelembapan 0%

Pastu lame2 bile dah ade bini,keje pon banyak,anak2 lagi, mase nak ride makin sikit dan nak tak nak kne gak ride mase yang aku tak brape suke nak ride.

Pastu keajaiban terjadi,mcm dalam citer part yang ade cahaya dr atas suluh aku sorang je pastu siap ade bunyi koir kat background. Berikutan perubahan mase riding,aku membuat keputusan utk membeli sendiri peralatan utk menghadapi sebarang dugaan cuaca yang datang.

Tip #1 ? Beli peralatan yang betol

Mase first time sangkut kat ujan,aku pon sarung suit tu,rase mcm duk kat satu dunia lain.Hampir keseluruhan tubuh ni kering kontang dan yang lebih penting,aku selesa! dan dengan itu aku ade lebih peluang utk fokus pade jalanraya dan riding berbanding berfikir ttg camne buruknye rupe terperangkap dlm hujan neh.

Ramai mmbe2 aku yang tak suke sut (termasuk aku). Mungkin diorang ni tak tahu tujuan/matlamat,taknak kluarkan uwang,takut org gelak spl nmpak kelakar dll...Kalo korang pon duk dlm golongan mereka yg berpikiran camni gak,aku berani kerat jari korang banyak abeskan mase naik motor yang tak bes sebab korang tak selesa dlm ujan,panas,sejuk dll.

Dapatkan suit yang sesuai dankorang akan merasai nikmat menunggang lebih banyak. secare peribadinye,skang aku rase enjoy riding dalam ujan,satu lagi pengalaman yg aku dpt dr riding.

Antare brg yang diperlukan mase outing/trip:
1. Baju ujan kualiti tinggi (mahal selalunye kualiti tinggi, try tgk aku nye article psl suit yang mmg fail : Tourmaster Standard Rainsuit)
2. Kasut kalis air yang paras buku lali (supaye air tak masuk dr atas)
3. Glove kalis air, kalo boleh yang ade span khas kat ibu jari tuk lap visor.

Lepas korang dapat suit yang betol,menunggang dalam ujan bukan lagi menjadi sesuatu masalah.

rumusan Tip #2
first 15 minit hujan,korang kne brenti dulu kat tepi isi minyak/isap rokok/minum...sbb menurut kate author,first 15 minit ni,minyak2,cecair2 kat jalan ni bercampur ngan air ujan dan tggu mase je korang nak lalu sambil biarkan 15 minit pertame tu utk bilasan..kasi clear jalan dulu...

Rumusan tips 3
elakkan bnde2 licin berkilat atas jalan..selain lopak air,mungkin plet besi,cover manhole,cover wiring bawah tanah dll sbb bnde2 ni jadi lagi licin dengan kehadiran hujan..ini termasuklah line2 dan tande2 jalan tuh...

Tip #4 ? Slow Down! (takyah citer la yg ni basic sgt..die suruh slow je)

rumusan Tip #5 ?

die sruh tunggang motot follow trek tayar kete kat make sure jarak yang selamat dankorang nampak bnde yang ade kat depan kete dan sentiase jangkekan yang tak dijangke....tujuan die,kete kat depan tu tolong pecahkan air kat jalan...

Tip #6 ? Konpemkan grip tayar korang mase basah
care nak try,same ade main2 brek,atau pun main2 throttle..die sruh test tayar blkg nye grip...

Tip #7 ? pakai full face/open shield helmet (pon takyah explain)

Tip #8 ? Peraturan satu tindakan

Dalam hujan,kite takleh ride spt mase kering,cth care tunggangan mase kering yang lebih dr satu tindakan:

1. pulas minyak time corner (2 tindakan)
2. drop gear mase nak corner (2 tindakan)
3. aleh fokus berat mase corner dan accelerate (3)

dalam hujan,korang sepatutnye fokus satu tindakan shj...lagi kurang kerja kat tayar,lagi best grip..


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