Riding in the rain can be enjoyable and an rewarding experience. Only if you are prepared. Before you get ready for riding your motorcycle in rains, check out the following:
First piece of advice about rain riding on your motorcycle… Don’t.
Ok. That must have got your attention. Rains reduce visibility, wet roads reduce traction, wet clothing reduces your concentration level, and any one aspect or a combination means higher risk for motorcycle riding in rains.
At the same time, riding in the rain can be an enjoyable and a rewarding experience if you are prepared. Safe and enjoyable wet weather motorcycle riding involves following 6 points that you should focus on-
- 15 Top Tips about Monsoon Riding techniques
- Riding motorcycle through standing or flowing water
- Preparing your motorcycle for rainy ride
- What to wear when riding a motorcycle in rain
- How to wear riding gear to reduce chances of getting wet
- What to do after your rainy ride is over
Here is a small image that you can download and keep handy
15 Top Tips about Motorcycle Riding in Rains:
Now comes the most important part. Actually riding your motorcycle in rains. Let us see what all we need to remember.
General Tips - Riding Motorcycles in the Rain
1. Always remember that first rains are most risky. All garbage, oil, mud accumulated over the summer will be floating around on the road. Be very very slow in the first couple of days of rains.
2. The first rule of wet weather motorcycle riding is gentle inputs. (actually gentle inputs is correct way for riding any time) Riding in rains makes this rule more important. You should be very gentle in every input you give be it acceleration, braking or leaning.
3. Hydroplaning is a reality. Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water prevents direct contact between the tires and the road. So even when you are riding in a straight line, if there is deep water, you may lose traction. Only solution is to slow down.
4. Once you start riding, find an empty patch of road and brake hard. This will give you an idea of how much grip and braking power you have. A couple of scary moments on empty road help immensely. Gently apply brakes periodically to wipe rotors of water / mud / debris.
5. Riding when it is pouring hard is relatively easier than light / patchy rains. In heavy rains, the tyres are always wet and you know what kind of grip they are providing. In case of light rains, some area of your tyre will be wet and at the same time other portion may be dry. This will result into ON/OFF traction / grip. Take it easy while riding in light rains.
Areas to avoid
6. Rain has a habit of spoiling your ride by spreading gravel and dirt on corners. Be very cautious while leaning.
7. Avoid riding near the dividers on the road. In many cases, mud from dividers gets washed out on the fast lane near divider. If you are riding in that lane, traction will be lost because of this mud.
8. The covered area around toll booths may feel attractive to save you from rains. But remember, that is the area where all trucks will be leaking oil and it doesn’t get washed away. Be very very cautious near toll booths.
9. Avoid riding on painted lines on the road. They are quite slippery.
10. Most of the Indian vehicles do not have effective mudguards. So you will always have mud thrown on you. Always carry a cloth for cleaning headlight, taillight and blinkers. Carry a small napkin for cleaning helmet visor. Visibility – you being able to see and others seeing you is critical.
11. While riding in rains, always keep your headlight on. It is better to be visible to others on the road. DO NOT put the headlight on high beam. You won’t see anything more in heavy rain and in the case of fog, the high beam will reflect back making you temporarily blind. Follow lane markings on the road.
12. In the case of low visibility due to heavy rain / fog, while riding on highways, keep double the distance with other vehicles than you would normally keep. Brakes can’t perform efficiently in rains. Give yourself more space to stop in time.
13. You cannot see open manhole covers or potholes. So try to follow tyre tracks of vehicle in front of you.
For Motorcycles with Radiators
14. If you own a motorcycle with radiator and this is your first rainy season, don’t panic if your motorcycle creates a large white coloured smoke from the engine area. It is the water touching hot radiator. For motorcycles without a radiator, this would happen when the water touches hot engine for the first time.
15. In rains, everyone is in a hurry to reach some dry place. Note that going fast won’t make you less wet and secondly, why hurry when you can enjoy the rain ride!
3 Tips for riding through standing or flowing water:
1. Be extremely slow. Be steady on the throttle.
2. Do NOT drop the revs to idle. Keep riding at 2-3,000 rpm. If you need to slow down, use the clutch to control speed but do NOT reduce the rpm. In case you drop the revs, water may enter exhaust and then you will have a stalled bike and heavy engine repair bill to face.
3. You cannot see open manhole covers or potholes. So try to follow tyre tracks of vehicle in front of you.
5 Tips about preparing your motorcycle for rainy season:
Whether you just commute to the office or take off on long tours, you need to be prepared. First, let us look at getting your motorcycle ready for the rainy season.
1. Get the motorcycle serviced at the beginning of the rainy season. If service isn’t due, just get it checked at the service centre. You should check that electricals are working fine, all lights are working, there is no cut in spark plug cable, tyres have sufficient tread.
2. Keep the motorcycle chain always lubricated. The humid air + dry chain will result in instant rust. Have a look about our Chain Cleaning & Maintenance Guide.
3. While starting the ride, find an empty stretch and test brakes.
4. While the bike is in parking, check for oil leaks. Once you start riding, every part of your motorcycle will be wet and you won’t be able to find out if there are any leaks.
5. Now some controversial advice: If you intend to ride in wet, over inflate your tyres slightly…say by 5 psi. This will reduce contact patch of your tyre and prevent Hydroplaning/Aquaplaning. (Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds between the wheels of the vehicle and the road surface, leading to a loss of traction that prevents the vehicle from responding to control inputs.) Lower tyre pressure increases contact patch of the tyre. Higher the contact patch, higher the chances of hydroplaning.
If you want to read a detailed article about how to protect your bike from rains/rust, click here.
High quality Motorcycle Care products for you:
What to wear when riding a motorcycle in Rain:
1. Riding gear is THE most important part of your rain ride. So we have devoted a whole article about waterproof clothing. Click here to read about Waterproof Riding Gear.
2. If your riding jacket and riding pants come equipped with removable rain liner, make sure you are carrying the rain liner in one of the pockets. That way, you will not be soaked in sweat when it is not raining.
3. In case you are relying on a raincoat / rain suit, remember that you would be using rain coat on top of your riding gear. Buy it at least couple of sizes bigger than what you would normally use.
4. Visibility of others will be reduced during rains. It is extremely difficult to identify a rider wearing black (black is the most common colour of riding jackets). So use high-visibility jackets while riding in heavy rain /fog / night rides.
5. In case your helmet doesn’t come equipped with an anti-fog visor or pin lock insert, visor fogging will be a common issue. Opening the visor slightly cures this issue but it isn’t always possible. An easy solution is to use anti fog spray available in the market. A cheaper fix is to coat the visor with mild detergent solution and let it dry (do not wipe / wash the visor). Water will not accumulate on the visor. It will just roll off.
6. While commuting to the office, how would you protect your laptop? Invest in a Tail bag. These bags have laptop compartment and comes with a free rain cover and looks cool even as an office bag.
7. While touring, always pack the raincoat on the top portion of the saddlebag. You don’t want to empty whole saddle bag just to reach the rain coat.
How to wear riding gear to minimise chances of getting wet:
- Close helmet vents at the top to prevent water getting inside.
- Pants should be outside riding boots (Don’t tuck in riding pants inside the boots. Water will travel from your legs to inside the boots)
- Riding Jacket sleeve should be tucked inside the gloves. This will prevent water from entering through your sleeves. In the case of very heavy rains at slow speeds, keep the sleeves on top of gauntlet so that water running down from your sleeves won’t get inside the gloves.
- Most of the riding gloves available in the market are not waterproof. Read manufacturer’s instruction to see if they can be worn in rains.
- Cover up your neck with a buff / bandana / balaclava. You won’t like the water creeping inside.
- Even if you are wearing 100% waterproof riding gear / clothing, always carry a plastic bag for mobile / wallet. Better to be safe than sorry… unless you want a reason to buy a new mobile.
What to do after riding in rains?
- Please remember that after riding in rains, radiators of motorcycles get clogged with mud. (This actually isn’t mud. It is small dust particles in rainwater. Once the water gets evaporated by touching the hot radiator, it leaves behind slime like mud) It is extremely difficult to clean. DO NOT try to pressure wash the radiator. Even slight water pressure will bend fins of the radiator.
- Rule one for cleaning the radiator fins, never use a stream of pressurized water on the radiator directly as it may bend the fins and sap cooling ability. Rule two, always pre-soak the radiator with a weak to moderate stream of water followed by a shampoo.
- If you don’t have time to clean the motorcycle properly after every ride, at least wash it down and remove mud. Keeping it muddy will result in rust creeping up in days.
- Never store wet riding gear. Wet riding gear will have fungus growing in no time. Let it dry itself before putting it away.
Few handpicked waterproof riding gear for you:
Last but not the least, make sure that your own accident insurance and your motorcycle’s insurance is valid. So in the unforeseen circumstances, you fall down, you are covered, at least financially. If you want to know more about insurance, we have a fantastic guide about how to get better deal while getting a new insurance. Click here to know more.
If you liked this guide and want to download it, click on the image below for downloading a free PDF version of Tips for Better riding in rains.
Just take care about the above points and enjoy motorcycle riding in rains.
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