Jump to content

TIPS ON RIDING IN THE RAIN?????


MotoMoose

Recommended Posts

Today was a first for me. Just as I came out of work it started to rain. I thankfully don't live far from work now, due to a recent job change. I decided that I've got to do it sooner or later. Thankfully, I wasn't in any kind of hurry and was ahead of the evening rush hour. As I took off the rain started to pick up. I had forgone with the rain gear as I knew I wouldn't have to worry about hypothermia and such. The further I went the wetter the streets got, so I knew I had better be smooth and cautious around corners. To cut a long post short, everything went well.

I tested my brakes several times, trying to get a feel for how much traction I had and how the ABS would feel. I seemed to have a lot of traction and never even felt the ABS or any incling of a loss of traction. Being relatively inexperienced, my turns were snail paced, but I wanted to get the feel for the ride rather than push things. As I said, everything went fine, I arrived home wet, but SAFE.

My question and request for input, is to hear your opinions and info about videos or information on the web about this subject. Thanks for any and all input.

Link to comment

Don't have any written or video references for you but here are some wet weather riding tips that have worked for me over the last 30 years of riding:

 

1. At first rain, PARK!! The initial rain after a dry spell does nothing but lift the oils and dirt to the surface. It now becomes very slick for the first hour or so. Just wait it out, if possible, to let the slick road grime wash to the side of the road.

 

2. Lighten up your grip on the bars and relax your body. This applies in the dry as most, IMHO, people could use to relax and lighten up the death grip. Less control and greater fatigue with too firm a grip on the bars so take the mental games away and make a conscious effort to relax.

 

3. Tire pressures. Have them adjusted properly BEFORE you ride, wet or dry.

 

4. Scan way ahead and become a hawk looking for the low spots that collect water and can cause hydroplaning, etc.

 

5. Your brake application should not really change all that much. Just remember that you can not transfer as much weight as fast as you could in the dry. The rear brake is, resultantly, slightly more effective but the technique really doesn't change, your overall traction has.

 

6. Clean visor and get the sunglasses off.

 

7. Enjoy the ride! Weather is a natural thing and really shouldn't stop you from your passion. Just respect it and ride accordingly.

 

8. Increase your head on a swivel approach!!! Leave more room in front of you, be more diligent about searching for threats and step up the "what if" game.

 

9. Prepare for that rainy day by deliberately taking time to practice your skills in the dry. Over and over again!

 

Riding in the rain is just a little more of a mental game than in the dry. For me, it just takes a conscious effort to relax, search with more aggressiveness for hazards, and realize that my $1.00 worth of traction has just become more like $.80.

 

Oh, and once you have the right rain gear, you will know when it is time for a break when the leak gets down in to the crotch due to a seam that needs resealing!! eek.gif DAMHIK!!!

 

Hope this helps. Standard thing, as always!!! YMMV, my $.02, opinions are like a%^ho&%es. Every has one and they all stink from time to time. Take what works for you and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

Link to comment

Thanks Phil,

Sounds like I did most things right, except for the waiting period. I thought about it, but maybe, unwisely thought the last recent rain had done good enough. I have been reading some articles that I found after doing a google search, Oh how I love GOOGLE.

Thanks for your input, with my limited experience, I'd be plain stuuuuped not to listen to experienced input.

ED

Link to comment

Another tip is to match engine speed to wheel speed when you downshift to keep the rear wheel from breaking loose.

 

Wearing bright colored, reflective clothing is a good idea.

Link to comment

About the only other little tip that I could add is to turn your head 90 degrees often so the drops will blow off of your visor. I try not to wipe the visor and smear it.

Link to comment

One more that I've noticed: Watch the painted arrows at turn lanes and stop signs. They can be just like riding on plastic when they're wet. And long enough to have some surprising effects. I've never stepped on one when stopped, but that could be interesting also. Geo J

Link to comment

1. At first rain, PARK!! The initial rain after a dry spell does nothing but lift the oils and dirt to the surface. It now becomes very slick for the first hour or so. Just wait it out, if possible, to let the slick road grime wash to the side of the road.

 

Ya know, you Californians always say this. But remember that you live in a place where it rarely rains. In the rest of the world that actually has variable weather and gets rain on a regular basis, this isn't so big of a deal. You guys get to ride all year round, except those three days a year it rains you lock the bike in the garage and hide under the bedcovers. grin.gif

 

Really, if where you live where it's rained within the last six months, don't panic at the first raindrop.

Link to comment
ShovelStrokeEd

I just keep on keepin' on. Down here in the tropics, at this time of year, it pretty much rains every day. We get these strange little popcorn thunderstorms, sometimes only of a minute duration and no more than 100 yards wide, sometimes a toad strangler for an hour or so.

 

I have never had a bike hydroplane on me and I've hit some deep puddles at 80+ even while leaned over a good bit. Traction is down some but only to about 80% of what you have in the dry if your tires are good.

 

Biggest hazards are road spray from big trucks killing your view of the road ahead and timid cage drivers (we do have a lot of geezers here) running 35 mph down a 70 mph freeway. No 4-ways and unpredictable as to which lane they choose to dawdle in.

Link to comment
One more that I've noticed: Watch the painted arrows at turn lanes and stop signs. They can be just like riding on plastic when they're wet. And long enough to have some surprising effects. I've never stepped on one when stopped, but that could be interesting also. Geo J

 

Amen to that statement.. This comes from a person that has been there that I can tell..

 

Yes, do watch those painted lines or any road paintings.. If they run across the road no big deal but anything painted on the road that runs in the same direction that you are riding such as line separators, no passing lines, stay in lane white lines, fog lines etc. can allow your front tire to wash out & slide out from under you (easily & VERY QUICKLY).. Other things in the road like tar snakes (especially new ones),, metal man hole covers, rail road tracks, wooden rail guards can all be a wakeup experience if your front tire stays on them for more than a real short second..

 

I ride just about every day (have for years) & commute to work on a two wheel device pretty well every day except with ice on the road & do live in a state that it rains frequently..

 

This is from a guy that commutes through deer country & twisty back roads, foggy misty dark mornings, rain, hail & commutes to work on a bike just about every day, the one best advice I can give you is: KNOW YOUR ROUTE,, know where there is likely to be sand in the curves,, know where you are likely to find calcium chloride tracked into a curve from a freshly sprayed side gravel road, know where the painted lines are a problem,, know where the tar snakes are, know where the wet leaves are apt to be in the fall (did I mention wet leaves? Well watch for those also)..

 

I haven’t ever gone down on my commute to work (have while playing real hard & doing things I shouldn’t have been doing though).. I have come very close to going down in my many years of commuting (usually when not paying the attention to conditions that I should have been or the occasional unexpected) .. I have had a couple of instances where my front wheel has slidden (sp) out from under me in the rain (mostly hidden painted lines or tar snakes) but was able to save the bike (& me) but did have an instance where the bike slid right out to the fog line & I thought for sure I was going off the road..

 

For some strange reason I do like riding in the rain & once a good smooth cadence is achieved with a relaxing riding style it can be fun BUT you have to maintain a strong awareness of road conditions & impending road hazards that could be hidden under the water on the road.. Stay near the brakes if in traffic as early braking means light braking (the longer you wait to apply the harder you need to use them).. Keep the tires properly inflated as just a pound or two low on air pressure can lower a tires hydroplaning speed significantly.. In fact if you know you will be riding in the rain jack the tire pressure up slightly as that will raise the hydroplaning speed a little..

 

This is getting long so one last thing.. Find a rain gear & especially rain glasses or face shield that works FOR YOU in the rain.. You can’t avoid it or can’t anticipate it if you can’t see it.. The better your rain vision the safer you will ride in the rain..

 

Twisty

Link to comment
Jerry Johnston
One more that I've noticed: Watch the painted arrows at turn lanes and stop signs. They can be just like riding on plastic when they're wet. And long enough to have some surprising effects. I've never stepped on one when stopped, but that could be interesting also. Geo J

 

And wet leaves.

Link to comment

Hydroplaning on a motorcycle is indeed rare, as I understand, because the tires are too narrow. Anyway, I've never hydroplaned while riding in the rain...but then I travel to a personal comfort level when I must ride in the rain.

Link to comment
Ya know, you Californians always say this. But remember that you live in a place where it rarely rains. In the rest of the world that actually has variable weather and gets rain on a regular basis, this isn't so big of a deal.

That's kinda what I was thinkin' - for us, the rains typically taper off in mid-May and chances of measurable precip start to appear in late-September at the earliest, but between those times it'll come down in showers and buckets everywhere else, not allowing too much junk to accumulate on the road surface.

Link to comment

I always carry a rain suit, just take it easy and don't get in a hurry, the painted area's on the road will be slick.If you get to where you feel uncomfortable just pull and stop.

Link to comment

Let me add to what Mr. Smith said about rain riding in the midwest. Out on the highway, I'll more often than not, ride right down the center of the lane, keeping out of the water in the tire tracks. In town where the center is slicker, I'll stay in a tire track or ride the line when there is no traffic.

Link to comment

It is a great idea to have the rain gear just in case; I have been caught in a sudden summer storm and ended cold to the point of shivering. That happened right after I started riding again and I have tried not to be caught without the gear.

Link to comment

Thanks Everyone!! I will try to remember all your tips and suggestions when I get another chance to ride in the rain.

I tried to search for this topic, but the search engine here doesn't seem to work very well. I find it hard to believe that the subject has not come up before. I hope that this post can be kept at the top of this forum page so that it might help other as it has helped me. If any member that reads this, has the power to make it stay at the top, please do. Once again thanks to all and keep this post going with more tips.

Link to comment

One more thing.... as Ed said we get a lot of practice riding in the rain here in Florida. If you are on the road stay out of the center of the lane. If a car is dripping oil that's where it's going to be. Ride in the tire tracks of the car in front of you.

Link to comment
ShovelStrokeEd

Pedro,

While I agree with you on staying out of the center stripe, a good thing even on dry roads, in the rain, I tend to hug the margins of the lane. Almost in lane splitting position if you will. Not only is there less debris there, you stay out of the grooves worn by cars and trucks and thus tend to miss major puddles and the like. It also gives a bit longer look down the road.

Link to comment

Lots of good advice. If you ever make a UK or Scotland trip, you're likely to get all the practice you need to last a life time. Anytime of year.

 

The Police now run campaigns all over the UK with the view to keeping more riders upright and the www.bikesafe.co.uk strategy has been hugely succesfull everywhere.

The focus is not on anti speed polava, but safety and riding in the wet is a large focus area.

 

Their tips are:

Avoid white/painted lines/road markings. (loads over here, lane separators, directional arrows, speed limits etc)

Avoid Drain covers. (slippery when wet! smirk.gif)

Avoid any tar overbanding between tarmac strips.

Widen your 'safety zone', keep longer distances between other vehicles.

 

 

Brake slight rear with a 45/55 rear/front ratio as opposed to a 20/80 in the dry.

 

I take all of the above on board, had several slips but easy throttle control and simply slowing down seemed to keep me upright do far.

 

One tip I did also take on board, was practicing locking the front under severe braking. Can't do this with my current bike, but some safe practice doing this increases your level of control as and when it may occur in the real world. (NB. BMW UK also teach this at their off road school in Wales)

 

As mentioned before, practice.

 

And in response to all the So Cal dwellers, what's all that 'blue' at the top of your photos? grin.gif

Link to comment
AdventurePoser
And in response to all the So Cal dwellers, what's all that 'blue' at the top of your photos? grin.gif

 

We here in So Cal, call it a "cloudless day." grin.gifgrin.gif

 

Cheers,

Steve

Link to comment

There will no doubt be a lot of good advice here, especially focusing on things like avoiding white lines and wet leaves and puddles and greasy parts of the road, and that's good advice.

 

What bothers me sometimes, though, are comments I see in some places (and I deliberately haven't read this thread) that your tires maintain some high percentage of dry traction when they running in the wet.

 

Well, yes - usually that's the case under ideal wet circumstances.

 

But what about when it's not ideal - are you willing to bet your life on it? The traction variables when it's wet extend way down the scale in unseeable ways, giving you a far less forgiving surface to ride on.

 

Here's an extract from my website on the subject - it's what I think even if I don't always follow my own advice:

 

 

"Cut your speed by at least 30% in the rain or on a wet road. Yeah, I know, you're not some newby just started riding, and you can ride fast and safe on a wet road when you can't hardly see because of the water and fog on the inside of your glasses or goggles, and even if the cages and trucks are throwing up such a slurry that Superman himself couldn't see through it with x-ray vision.. Sure you can, for while, but gravity works even in the rain, only quicker. Some day you'll have to perform an evasive maneuver and you'll wonder where the traction went as your wheels slide out from under you and the road rises up to smite you, and some car's bumper is the last thing you see as you go under it. Slow down, give yourself a little margin for mistakes, yours and others'."

 

Traction is what controls your bike's momentum, and momentum increases as the square of your speed - and vice-versa (you physics experts feel free to refine the details here). What that means is that a relatively small reduction in speed can make a big deposit in your traction account, which may come in handy when that truck you're about to pass in the rain decides he'll come into your lane.

 

Slow down.

 

Pilgrim

Link to comment
ShovelStrokeEd

Excellent point on the slow down thing, although I rarely practice it myself.

 

Thing is, there is a whole lot of other factors at work here. Let's examine one of them. Yes, you do retain a high percentage of the dry traction in the wet, assuming a uniform under surface, a pretty big assumption. Probably up to that 80% of your dry traction. The thing that changes is the recovory characteristic. Those who push the envelope a bit have all felt a momentary loss of traction while cornering. Rear end steps out a bit on a corner exit or the front tucks a little on an apex. The straight line situation is similar, slight lockup and slide of the front or rear under braking. It is really no big deal in the dry.

 

Add some water on the surface and you have a problem. That little tuck of the front end is just liable to turn into a low side cause the tire is gonna take much longer to regain lost traction than it did when the road was dry. That, IMHO is where the danger lies. I routinely practice hard braking on both ends of my bikes, to the point of lockup and beyond and I can recover pretty easily from a misjudged squeeze. What experimenting I have done under wet conditions has found that it takes the tire a much longer time to get back to rolling again after a lockup in the wet. Can you say scary?? Now, with straight line braking, a locked front is really no big deal, having your front end wash out during a swerve?? Certainly not priceless and likely to be expensive, if not painful.

 

Yup, slow down is good advise. thumbsup.gif

Link to comment

The Police now run campaigns all over the UK with the view to keeping more riders upright and the www.bikesafe.co.uk strategy has been hugely succesfull everywhere.

 

I endorse your comments about Bike Safe, really valuable experience - US members might be interested in the fact that the concept has been taken up by North Carolina Highway Patrol - there's a link on the Bikesafe website to a story about how this came about.

Link to comment

Ed,

 

One of the best ways to understand what happens in the rain and how to ride in it is to understand THIS article real well and then accept the fact the your traction limit just decreased significantly, so adjust your speed accordingly.

Link to comment
The Police now run campaigns all over the UK with the view to keeping more riders upright and the www.bikesafe.co.uk strategy has been hugely succesfull everywhere.

Widen your 'safety zone', keep longer distances between other vehicles.

Brake slight rear with a 45/55 rear/front ratio as opposed to a 20/80 in the dry.

 

Thanks for your tips and the link. I think for the most part these 2 suggestions are new for this thread, and I will remember them.

Link to comment
ShovelStrokeEd

Sorry to disagree with it but the 45/55 makes no sense to me. The ratio should be the same as it ever was. Call it 20/80 or 10/90, the difference is in the amount of brake you can safely apply without risking a slide, not the proportions. If you subscribe to good technique, you wiil initially apply a bit of rear brake followed quickly by the front and diminishing the rear as the weight of the bike transfers to the front wheel. This is braking 101 and nothing has changed about the physics of the matter, only the amount of absolute traction avialable.

Link to comment

Ed's math may be just a little off as you must remember he is a (semi) reformed HD guy eek.gif. The poor fella is still trying to get the 100 percent rear brake thingy out of his head wink.gifgrin.gif.

Link to comment

a lot of people have mentioned some good tips about various "painted lines" to avoid. i thought, yep, all very good examples. i should be wary of them the next time i ride in the rain. then BAM, we get hammered with it, which was also my first REAL experience, as opposed to sprinkles, spot showers, etc.

 

anyway, my point for writing is the "painted lines" that i forgot, or didn't think about. the crosswalk lines..., when you're making a turn!

 

HOLY CRAP!! talk about butt pucker! i think the only thing that saved me (i was moving pretty quickly as i like cornering) was that they were pretty much worn away.

 

just something else to think about.....

Link to comment
ShovelStrokeEd

Phil,

One ride on my panhead with it's single leading shoe front brake will show you that on that particular HD, all the squeeze in the world will do no more than produce a bad smell from the front brake, it makes no noticable difference in the velocity of the bike, in fact, it is barely adequate as a hill holder.

 

That piece of antique technology aside, I really don't see where my math is wrong other than transposing front rear which was an effort to remain consistant with the, I hope, way the 45/55 was expressed.

Link to comment

Ed,

 

BTDT and know exactly what you mean. I rode a few old Brit bikes too eek.gif

 

If it is any comfort to you, I didn't get the 45/55 ratio either.....but, then again, it was quoted from a British site and what the hell do they know anyway wink.gifwink.gif

They even drive on the wrong side eek.gif...I was so confused by it all I had to leave and come to the U.S. grin.gifthumbsup.gif

Link to comment

This is a good thread. I actually like riding in the rain and spent an unexpected 170 miles in it last weekend. There have been many excellent tips shared. Here’s what I think is most important: be comfortable. This means solid gear and an unshakeable mentality to accept what the road and Mother Nature are throwing at you. If you are not comfortable, you’ll be distracted when you need 110% of your normal riding attention to be safe.

Link to comment
Hydroplaning on a motorcycle is indeed rare, as I understand, because the tires are too narrow. Anyway, I've never hydroplaned while riding in the rain...but then I travel to a personal comfort level when I must ride in the rain.

 

Rare, indeed. It happened to me one time. I was riding home from work on my city provided Kawasaki KZ-1000 Police Special. It was in the middle of the night, around 2:30 - 3:30 AM, (we worked a DUI checkpoint). Rain had been heavy at times but during the commute home is was light. 4 lane road with a 2-way center left tun lane, posted speed 50 MPH, my speed closer to 42 MPH. I felt the rear tire lose traction and begin to swing around to the left, then the front tire lost traction and began to weave left & right a little. Needless to say I thought it was going to end up worse, I gently closed the throttle, used no brakes and just let the bike settle back down thru the water and regain traction. Continued home a bit slower; I radioed my partner to warn him of the danger. He travelled the same road to his home and had no trouble. The tip is - don't panic, be smooth on the controls.

Link to comment

One other point to consider.

 

While hanging off is usaully thought of as a sport/race cornering technique, a modified version of it is a very applicable addition to the other tools mentioned in the thread.

 

Bringing your body mass to the inside of the bike, without the butt off the seat, will lower the combined bike and rider C of G, thus allowing less lean for the same speed in a wet situation.

 

The only caveat is, you must only use as much grip and tension on the bars as is necessary to get through the corner. Additional and unwanted tension could promote a slide all by itself.

 

Keith

Link to comment

My motor school instructor offered me this piece of advice (along with many other pearls of wisdom) with regards to riding in the rain:

 

Avoid square puddles!

 

He went on to explain that in his days as a motor officer in Oakland, CA, he had encountered a square puddle while riding down the road in the rain. As the puddle was only about 2’ by 2’ in size and didn’t appear too deep, he figured it would be okay to plow right through it. As he drove into the puddle his front tire dropped down about 8 inches and came to a jarring stop. As a result, he found himself continuing down the roadway face first as his body did not stop quite as fast as his motorcycle. crazy.gif

 

As it turned out the “puddle” was some sort of utility access hatch where the metal cover had come off and the hole had since filled with water.

 

Lesson learned: Avoid square puddles! grin.gif

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...