Riding a motorcycle in the rain is not usually a rider’s first choice, but sometimes rain is unavoidable. I ridden plenty of times in the rain and have remained safe, warm and dry. So, here are 13 tips for riding a motorcycle in the rain.
Wear Waterproof Gear
Nothing can ruin your ride quicker than getting soaking wet. Combine that with the wind and you’re going to get cold. Suddenly your not just a little uncomfortable, but it becomes dangerous.
Invest in a decent set of rain gear. Waterproof riding gear comes in a wide range of prices and can sometimes be pretty expensive. But you don’t have to break the bank for a set.
Choose jacket and pants that you can quickly put on if it starts to rain. Get something that packs down small so you’re more likely to take it with you “just in case”. Choose a visible color. Visibility is impaired when it’s raining, so make sure you’re seen.
Don’t forget the gloves. A good pair of waterproof gloves will keep your fingers warm and dry. To top off your new outfit, add a pair of boot covers if your riding footwear isn’t waterproof.
Make Sure your Tires are Good
While some motorcycle tires are designed specifically for riding in the rain, most street tires are perfectly safe for riding on wet roads. However, don’t go riding in the rain if your tires are worn.
The tread on your tires should be well above the wear indicators and tires should be inflated according to the manufacturer. While you’re being extra cautious in the rain, it’s important to still trust your tires. If they are in good shape then they actually have a lot more grip than we often expect.
Take the Corners Slow
Don’t take the corners too fast. If you’re used to getting a good lean into the corners on a dry road, you’ll have to make some adjustments in the rain. While some lean is perfectly fine, you want to keep your speed down so that the rear tire doesn’t lose its grip on the road.
Don’t make any suddenly accelerate or decelerate while you’re turning and definitely avoid hitting the brakes in the turn. Sudden changes in speed can cause your tires to lose traction, and down you go.
Leave More Space Around You
While riding in the rain, leave more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. A sudden stop in the rain could cause you to skid out of control into the car in front of you.
Maintain your distance so you have more room to react and slowly apply the brakes if you need to stop unexpectedly.
Avoid Road Paint
Road paint is not your friend when it’s wet. All those painted lines and cross walks become slippery in the rain so, when you’re turning a corner, especially when making a left turn in an intersection, go slow with no sudden throttle bursts, and keep your bike as upright as possible.
It’s not just the paint that’s a problem. Metal grates, manhole covers, and railroad tracks can all be a hazard when they’re wet. Ride over these surfaces carefully, smoothly.
If you have to ride across a bridge with a metal grated surface, keep your arms and grip relaxed, your speed even and consistent, and keep your focus far ahead of you.
Make Yourself More Visible
Now is the time to wear bright colors. Choose a jacket or rain gear that is bright yellow. Yeah, you may look like a bumble bee in yellow and black, but your chances of being seen are greatly increased.
Before you take off, make sure all your lights are working properly. Check your tail light, brake light, high beams and turn signals.
Open your Helmet Vents
You can help prevent your visor from fogging up if you open the vents on your helmet, especially the vents at the front. If it gets too cold, wear a face covering to keep the cold air off your face.
Sometimes rain doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cold outside, so opening your helmet vents will keep you more comfortable.
Pick a Dry Line
When riding in the rain try to ride along the tire line of the car in front of you. Let the cars move the water away for you. This will help reduce the risk of hydroplaning.
Hydroplaning is when a thin layer of water gets between your tire and the road. You’re basically floating, which can quickly cause your tires to lose their grip on the road. That brings us to tip #9.
Do your best to avoid puddles and stay away from standing water. Often after heavy rain, you’ll find puddles on the sides of the roadway, in intersections, or on corners where water hasn’t drained properly.
You might also find water on country roads where heavy rains can wash out low sections of the roads. Many small roads are prone to flooding, so watch out for street signs saying so.
If you do have to ride through standing water, go slow, relax, keep your line straight and your eyes focused ahead of you, not down at the water.
Use a Pinlock Face Shield
Pinlock ready helmet visors come with pins attached where you can snap in a second visor on top of the larger one. This will prevent your visor from fogging up by trapping air in between the two layers.
Pinlock inserts come in a variety of shades and are quick and easy to install so you can install a clear lens for the rain and swap it for a shaded insert when the sun comes out.
Keep your Starts and Stops Smooth
Somethings that can cause your tires to lose their grip on the road are jerky movements or quick starts and stops. So, when you’re accelerating from a stop, apply an even throttle until you get up to speed.
Likewise when you stop, let off the throttle smoothly and apply the brakes evenly, both front and rear, until you slow down to a stop.
When turning a corner, keep your accelaration minimal until you finish the turn. Stay steady on the throttle during the turn.
Don’t ride during the first 15 minutes of rain
The first 15 minutes of a rain storm are usually the most dangerous, especially if it hasn’t rained in a long time. All the built up road grime and oil will make a slimy coating until it has time to wash away. Usually 15 minutes of rain is enough to clear it up, then it’s safer to ride.
Keep your Belongings Dry
A good rule of thumb is to always pack your camping gear, clothes or whatever you’re taking, as if it’s going to rain. That means packing items in waterproof bags. Get a set of dry bags for clothes or small items that can fit inside your saddle bags.
For camping gear, invest in a good dry bag that will keep your tent and sleeping bag dry in a rainstorm. You can also use gallon size ziplock bags to keep your clothes dry.
If you have soft saddlebags use the rain cover if they came with them. Make sure they are secured properly so the wind doesn’t blow them off. Also, keep in mind that these rain covers are not guaranteed to keep your gear dry.
If you follow these tips, riding in the rain won’t be a miserable experience and you’ll stay safe and dry.
Recommended Products for Riding in Rain
The following list of products are items you might consider so that you can ride in the rain safely. As a disclaimer, some of these links are affiliate links.