Almost every rider I know has a near-pathological fear of riding in the rain. Personally, as someone that rides in all seasons, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out if that’s you.
First up, let me say that I can understand why you think you shouldn’t ride in the rain, but let’s run through a few of these assumptions:
This is the number one reason I find people don’t want to wet-ride. Tire grip canbe a concern in the wet but the technology has come phenomenally far in the past few years. Tires such as the Michelin Pilot Road 3 are apparently awesome in the wet. I know a guy who rides a Ducati with them and he says their the best tires he’s ever had both for grip and longevity.
The secret to this is the little lines across the tire. They’re called sipes and channel water so there’s more grip. Previously, you’d only see them on race wets due to wear issues, but the Michelin’s claim there’s enough grip to put your knee down in the wet.
Of course, you don’t need specialized tires, and chances are what you have is grippy enough. Besides, if you’re bike is fairly new, it’ll have traction control and ABS anyway.
Photo via: MotorbikeWriter
I can’t see
Yes, rain can impact your vision on a bike. It can also impact your visibilty to others. The former you can deal with by making sure your visor is clean and simply wiping it as you ride. Some gloves even have a built in squeegee.
If that’s no good, put some RainX on the visor. It’s also a good idea to leave it open just a crack to prevent fogging if it’s cold out.
Making sure others can see you is as simple as wearing something bright and/or reflective. Most waterproofs are designed this way for a reason.
You’re gonna get wet
You really can’t argue with this one. It’s raining out and you’re in a vehicle with no doors or roof. Of course you’re going to get a little wet. But like the tires, there’s much you can do. At the very least, carry a set of waterproofs with you. Chances are, if you take them, it’s never going to rain.
If that’s not your thing, waterproof what you have. Neverwet is supposed to be amazing and will be purchased as soon as I can just for my gloves.
The best option is to buy yourself Goretex gear. This is my preferred solution and I’ve ridden it through thousands of kilometers, many of which were in driving rain. It’s never let me get so much as damp, even at the zips.
Luggage is another concern. I’ve found that’s it’s a good idea to get good bags but even then, place everything inside a waterproof stuff-sack for confidence. I frequently ride with my laptop and/or iPad in my panniers and they’ve never gotten so much as moist.
I’ll spoil my bike
Unless it’s snowed recently and the roads are still covererd in salt, there’s not much damage that can be done to your bike by a little rain water. The aforementioned lack of doors means it’s designed to get wet. Worst case, wash it and polish it as soon as you get home and the rains have past. However, if you’re like me, that might be the only time it gets washed.
So, now we’ve dealt with why you might not want to ride in the rain, let’s talk about why you should. Everything you do in the wet is magnified due to reduced traction. As such:
You’re going to learn control
Traction control, tires, ABS, etc are all there to help you should the worst happen, but they’re no substitute for having control in the first place. Getting out under rain-clouded skies will teach you this quickly.
Find a parking lot and practice some of your slow speed maneouvers. Find a straight, clear stretch and practice your braking, or turns in the road. If nothing else. Focus on being smooth with the brakes, clutch and throttle. While this is good advice in the dry, it’s paramount in the wet.
You’ll learn to relax
No matter the conditions, a tense rider on a motorcycle isn’t in control. Focus on your breathing and make sure you’re doing the right things: Grip your tank with your knees, keep your arms and shoulders loose and engage your core muscles.
This works wonders on potholes and other poor surfaces, too, and it’s amazing how many riders forget something so fundamental. Riding in the rain will give you plenty of time to reflect.
You’re going to plan ahead more
As you would expect, stopping distance is longer in the wet. You’ll learn to ride a little less aggressively and plan ahead more. Watch car tail lights and scan around for clues that will increase your perception.
You might even have fun
If you’re dressed appropriately, you’ll stay dry. If you’re motorcycle is in good shape with a relaxed rider, it’ll handle well. Isn’t that what we’re looking for onany motorcycle ride? As a bonus, you’ll find that the roads are also (generally) less busy.
And remember, those pro-racers will run every meeting despite the weather. If this guy can maintain race pace on a 250bhp motorcycle in the wet, there’s no reason you can’t ride safe in the water, too.