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15 Tips For Riding A Motorcycle In The Rain

In all the years that I have been riding a motorcycle, I can honestly not remember one biker who loves riding in the rain. I do not think that there’s anyone out there who, when looking out the window and seeing a downpour, will say “ohhh great, it’s raining, let’s go for a bike ride”.

However I do know a lot of bikers who flatly refuse to go out riding when it rains. Personally, I think that is a mistake. Rain is nothing but water, and as long as a) it’s not raining very hard, b) falling horizontally (in other words a strong wind) and c) you wear the proper clothing, then the ride will be fine.

There are a lot of things to take into account when riding a motorcycle in the rain, but one of the most important ones is that you have to dress appropriately. Having your normal jacket and trousers might not be enough. If there’s a light drizzle, it probably will not be a problem, but when there’s consistent rain, water (usually cold) will seep through your clothes onto your body, and that is not fun! Getting wet, or at least humid, when riding is distracting and very uncomfortable. It’s also when you will get a cold, or worse.

So whatever you do, make sure the clothing (jacket, trousers and boot covers) you use during a rain ride is rain proof.

This is the most important tip for riding in the rain, all other tips are more or less common sense. The clothing doesn’t need to be a diver’s suit you use for deep sea diving, but it needs to keep the water away.

  1. Wear proper rain gear, preferably Gore-Tex or equivalent. It needs to be able to breath but still not allow water to creep in. Make sure your helmet covers your face, since rain above 30 mph is going to hurt you.
  2. Make sure your tires are correct for riding in the rain, in other words, do not go out riding in the rain with slick tires.
  3. Watch the road. What used to be kind-of slippery is now very slippery. White lines on the roads will have become ice rinks, metal plates/manholes are super dangerous, avoid them like the plague.
  4. Watch out for puddles. Yes, it can be fun riding through one, but since the water hides the surface you just don’t know what you are riding into. Can the puddle in fact be a 3 feet deep hole? Do you want to find out the hard way?
  5. When riding and you see a colored rainbow on the ground, watch it. It’s got nothing to do with the gay movement, chances are it’s oil.
  6. When rain first starts after many days of dry weather, it’s when it’s the most dangerous since there’s a lot of oil and dirt on the road. Wait an hour or two for the rain to wash away the oil/dirt before riding since the road surfaces are at their slipperiest. If it’s just drizzle, then the road will remain slippery.
  7. Railway crossing are to be taken as straight as possible. Remember the railway tracks are metal, and wet metal is slippery. Straighten your bike.
  8. When you need to brake, apply more rear brake than normal. If your front wheel starts sliding you’re done for, if your rear wheel slides you can easily correct.
  9. Do not brake strongly if possible.Brake gently. If you need to urgently apply your brakes, pump them so that you do not start aquaplaning.
  10. Give yourself more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Braking distances are much longer in the rain.
  11. Relax when riding. Getting all cramped and bunched up is not good. First of all you will get tired real quickly and it is dangerous. Relaxed riding is much better.
  12. Be visible. Rain makes it difficult for cars to see you. If you have high visibility clothing, now it is the time to put them on.
  13. An obvious advice, but here it is anyway: reduce your speed! In many countries legally you need to reduce speed by some 10-20% when it rains, and there are good reasons for it.
  14. Since we don’t have wipers on our helmets (well, maybe some do) you can easily spray something like Rain-X on the visor to help you with your visibility. Rain-X keeps the rain from the visor.
  15. When lightning starts up, stop riding. Head for cover (don’t stop below a tree).
Riding in the rain will at times be necessary, and you should not stop riding just because it is raining. Relax and enjoy the ride. You are after all riding a motorcycle and that is fun. ENJOY IT.​
 

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Rain-X has a tendency to fog plastics (craze?) over a long term application. Not sure how well it will work on motorcycle visors. Visors are cheap(ish) but I would like mine to last a year or so before replacement.
 

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"Honda Cleaner/Polish" No called Original Bike Spirits cleaner and polish also helps shed water.
 

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I would agree with all listed points except 9. On any surface if improper application of front brake causes a front tire lock up, resulting in a slide or washout, immediately release the front brake and allow the wheel to regain its proper inline track. It is not difficult if you relax but something that has to become a normal reaction. The easiest way is to practice your stopping techniques under all conditions. Getting to know what your limitations are, as well as your bikes, will help you avoid over braking. Like any other situation you may face the lack of preparedness and skill achieved with parking lot practice could result in a panic situation.
 

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Rain-X has a tendency to fog plastics (craze?) over a long term application. Not sure how well it will work on motorcycle visors. Visors are cheap(ish) but I would like mine to last a year or so before replacement.
+1

Visor proof works really good for me.
Nikwax | Visor Proof - Spray-on rain repellent for visors and goggles

Also, another tip I have learned from many, many hours of riding in the rain...tuck your gloves inside your jacket. In other words, cuff over the gloves. I know that it seems like the rain would come in through the sleeves, but this has worked very well for me, even in very heavy rain. With the gloves over my sleeves, my hands *always* get wet.

Glove proof helps too.
Sponge-on waterproofing for gloves | Glove Proof
 

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I mentioned that to a fella at a gas stop the other day who was emptying his gauntlet glove. When I asked if they didn't act like a funnel he just gave me that look we all have had at some point like "Why didn't I think of that?" I wish all "my" teachable moments could have been that easily fixed.
 

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A couple of weeks back while enroute to the Adirondacks gathering, I got to ride for three hours in pouring rain. While I'd ridden in some rain before, I never had the 'pleasure' of three hours of it. My FirstGear rain pants and jacket kept me from getting wet with rain but I was sweating profusely and soaking my undergarments on the inside. So that needs some adjustment! Fortunately I brought along an extra pair of gloves so getting the pair I was wearing completely saturated with rainwater wasn't that big a deal. What really sucked was my lack of visibility! Before departing home, I had carefully cleaned my visor and applied Rain-X to the outside and an antifog solution to the inside. But even with my visor open a pinch, the inside of my visor still seemed to cloud up AND the water didn't seem to drain off the outside as much as I'd hoped. I had one helluva time seeing and I just prayed repeatedly, kept an eye on the white line along the roadside and hoped I'd make it to my destination safely. In short, it really sucked!
 

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The biggest issue I deal with when riding in the rain is how it affects other vehicles. Most of my miles being commuting in the Seattle metropolis area - so lots of traffic/cars. There are more seemingly random "slow downs" where traffic will slow down without much warning. More people changing lanes - people tend to drive more aggressively to get around the cars they feel are going too slow.

You do lose some traction obviously, I slow down when I need traction. Seems a lot of the drivers here do it backwards though, they slow way down on the wide open straight highways and try taking off-ramps at the same speed they would if it was dry. Going straight at a steady speed you aren't going to have problems, the danger is in braking and turning. So maintain extra stopping distance between you and the cars around you, and slow more for turns.

I'm not in the rain long enough that I am too concerned with wet hands or anything. Textile jacket/pants does fine enough, in especially hard rains it'll seep through but I'll be indoors soon. On a longer trip I'd put rain gear on. I've tried the waterproof glove covers and even with friction material in the palms it was significantly less grip on the grips than my gloves. Made me have to grip tighter on the grips, not a fan. Eventually I'd like gore-tex gloves. Yes, putting jacket over glove cuff definitely helps, especially if you are wearing lined winter gloves. That lining loves water and takes forever to dry.

I do rain-x my visor. Hasn't been an issue yet, but even if it becomes one I'm willing to sacrifice the $40 or so to replace it. I'll also wipe it with my gloved hand from time to time. I've had gloves with and without the rubber wiper blades and I don't notice any difference. In fact, depending on where the wiper blade is on the glove it might be more trouble than it's worth trying to wipe with the blade. Riding in rain you're also likely to have issues with the inside fogging up, and you probably don't want to prop the visor open too much in rain. I'm a huge fan of pin-lock inserts. Fog city works as well, but seems to have more visual distortion than the pin-locks I've used. Bright objects tend to "star". The wipe on fog coatings like cat crap seem better than nothing but not much better.
 

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I've put a "Fog City" in every full faced helmet I've ever owned , including my Adventure style helmet I ride in now. For 15.00 , it's absolute magic in the rain , and cool , and.......fog. Being able to see is a big deal in the rain.
 

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I understand that riding hours in cold rain is probably unknown from you in California.
I've only been in California since March. Prior to that I was stationed in Texas for 5 years and in North Carolina for 5 before that where it rained at 5 o'clock on the dot everyday during the summer and during the fall/winter it was cold and rainy.......all other times of the year were damp to one degree or another.
 

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Thank you jafrum!
 
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