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Discussion Starter #1
As a new rider I try to avoid riding in the rain, but have been caught in it a few times anyway. Having traction control and ABS is reassuring but I'm wondering about cornering.

My question is, does the bike give any indication that the tires are approaching the limits of traction in a turn, or does it just suddenly lose grip and fall?
 

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My .02 is from non-ABS bikes

When hard on the throttle in the rain without TC I'll feel the rear tire dance around. A little warning, but if you ignore it or hit some polished metal you can find yourself on your ass pretty quickly. I imagine that with TC you're protected a bit more.

Braking hard on wet pavement while leaned over is a pretty good way to get horizontal before you even realize what happened. I'm interested to know how bikes with cornering ABS handle that situation. I ride with an abundance of caution in wet weather.
 

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The problem with riding in rain is the change in available grip. On damp roads in some conditions you can drag the pegs in confidence. Riding when rain is steady means more care. Newer grooved cement roads do rather well in maintaining grip. Asphalt roads are where surprises crop up. They tend to be slicker to start with, but where there are tar strips or patches where tar comes to the surface they can be a big problem. Rain hides these sometimes. Oil on the road is a bigger factor on asphalt. On ANY surface any painted lines or signs in the road surface are to be dealt with very carefully. If you know the road, that can add confidence. But on all occasions my survival instincts are a bit higher when riding in the rain. As far as warnings go, if just a tar strip it might slip and then be ok. But if it decides to slide, not many are going to be able to pull the bike out of that.

Doesn't hurt to slow down some........
 

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Assuming you aren't "pushing it" you should not have a problem. Most bike tires do fairly well in wet. Avoid slick surfaces like tire snakes, manhole covers and paint, but even when you get on them, if you ride conservatively you won't go down. I don't know of any real warning sign you are approaching the limit, but I would simply not approach the limit on the wet.
 

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Sometimes you will get a warning, other times you will be sliding and thinking...wth? I run 50/50 tires so I never push them on wet surfaces and to be honest even when I ran street tires I always "slow down some" as RealShelby put it because it's just not worth a crash to be someplace a few min early. When it's dry...game on.
 

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Your bike will most likely slip and grip a couple of times before dumping you, but that so much depends on the road surface.
The most dangerous time is during rain after a long dry spell. Roads can be quite treacherous then. The next tip is to watch the road surface carefully - a shiny worn surface will generally give less traction than nice new chip seal, or asphalt. Road markings can also offer very poor traction and should be avoided where possible.
Likewise traffic lights where cars sit and drip oil.

It is quite surprising how much ultimate grip you can get from a good surface with warm tires on touring roads, but be very careful on high volume roads around town.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, so from what I gather, if I avoid slick patches and don't do hard breaking or accelerating, things should be fine.

So in general, is it safe to go as fast as car traffic around curves or is it better to go slower?
 

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In the wet, slow down a tad. Corners should be taken with less lean angle, starts and stops with more care. Aside from those you should not have many issues. My '15 650 XT is my only form of transport and I routinely ride in the rain. Skill wise, not too difficult. Snow holds its own fun. My biggest worries are two - seeing through a rained-up visor, and watching for dummies in cars who are driving an attitude instead of their conveyance.
 

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I worry less about going slower and more about things like realshelby eluded to, changes in traction. I concentrate on riding smoother rather than slower.

My bike has traction control, ABS and select-able engine mapping. My normal riding in rain never engages them. I can hammer the brakes or really twist the throttle and feel the systems work....but when I am thinking ride smooth, the electro-gizmos are not even in play.
 

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One thing that will help is doing some riding on mild gravel and dirt roads that will get you familiar with how the bike handles on uncertain surfaces.
That way when the bike does slide a little on a wet surface you are prepared.

Mind mud and sand tho...not much fun and very treacherous.

In theory you still have 80% of the traction in the rain but that can vary wildly. In particular the first part of a rain at intersections ...stay out of the centre of the lane ...oil builds up and it can be pure black ice when the first rain starts.

The painted traffic lines are wicked as well and it's hard to tell how slippery they are......so a little slide on a gravel road will prepare you for a little slip on a painted line.

Tire choice of course makes a big difference....road tires are pretty good in rain. 50/50s some like Mitas E07 are quite good, others can get "exciting".
Put the time in, don't avoid the rain and get some time with it so you your confidence grows. Enjoy.
 

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I found this video really helpful...and reassuring. He addresses both dry and wet pavement traction. Surprisingly, you don’t lose as much traction on wet pavement as most people think. Having said that, I still have a mental hang up about riding on wet pavement.

 

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Discussion Starter #12
That's a helpful video. He's saying that the tires can handle about 0.9g of lateral force on wet pavement, which is way more than I expected. That would imply a lean angle of about 42 degrees. I don't think I'll be trying to lean that far anytime soon, but I find that reassuring.
 

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Ive never had a problem riding in the rain EXCEPT for one little tidbit of advice--wet railroad tracks are not your friend.

I was riding my '81 CB750K, about 30 mph in the rain, the railroad tracks came across my lane at an angle. the front, then the rear slipped. But to this day I still dont know how I kept the bike upright in forward motion.
 

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Personally I love riding in the rain, particularly when there are 'faster' bikes around. Sports bike brakes for corner, I don't, ride around sports bike, check mirrors and no more sports bike. Given the very aggressive policing around here I'm usually riding faster in the rain than I am in the dry.

Tires make a huge difference and as pointed out above, being smooth is the trick but the geometry and wide bars on DL's give you a huge edge, I do occasionally slide around a bit but it's always been recoverable so far - and that's with more than ten years of riding DL's.

I would suggest getting experience riding in rain in conditions that aren't otherwise stressful, quiet country roads with a few curves, not on a motorway or in heavy commuter traffic because a lot of being good in rain is being confident.
 

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I am as happy riding in the rain as I am in the dry and there is little difference to my speeds on the road in either condition. There is just a different dynamic though because things that could be slippery in the dry will be extra slippery in the wet and one takes account of that.

Smoothness in all aspects of your riding are the most important in the wet. In short insofar as conditions allow, no sudden actions. ABS can be a real friend in the wet. TC not as much imho unless one is really giving the throttle welly.

Some riders slow right down in the wet. Imho this is a double edged sword in that they are not getting enough heat into the tyres. As such when they need good grip for hard braking or acceleration the tyres are not warm enough to grip. My practice is to allow a few miles of steady riding from a start to get some heat into the tyres and then increase my speed as the tyres warm up.

Tyres are of course a very important consideration. Some are better than others and I never spare money when it comes to tyre choice. My safety is far more important on the road than saving pennies on cheaper tyres. Keep in mind that some OEM tyres are appallingly bad as I found out on my former CRF1000L Africa Twin. They nearly had me off in the wet several times despite my almost 50 years experience. They were disposed of with only 2000kms on them !

Lastly the best way to gain confidence in the wet is to get loads of practice at it. Do not shy away from riding on wet days. Put the gear on and get out in it. If all goes to plan You will eventually enjoy it as much as I do. The only bit I hate is setting off from home in wet weather. Once I am out in it though everything is good.
 

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EDIT: Damn Griff, great minds really do think alike! and very nearly simultaneously too

Our arms are steering dampers and they need to remain relaxed to function properly. This is true whether the roads are wet or dry. Many riders are much more tense in the rain and tend to lock their arms when the bike gives a little twitch.

Maintaining a light touch on all the controls is proper technique; wet or dry. Hang loose and enjoy the ride.

It's very much like riding a dirt bike in deep sugar sand. Give the bike room to move a little and make no sudden changes in velocity.
 

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I enjoy riding in the rain, especially away from heavy traffic. Light rain esp..heavy can affect visibility. As mentioned watch out for tar snakes, metal covers or ramps. Should also mention painted sections at intersections too, and be careful where you put your feet down..your boot can slip on intersection paint, some oil etc when stopped, especially in the wet. Try some hard braking in a parking lot or a quiet street. You will be surprised how much traction you have in the wet, especially once you get some heat in your tires.
 

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As others have said, smoothness is key. Another point is that in the wet you can brake pretty hard, accelerate pretty hard and corner kinda hard, but you can only do one thing at a time! Get your braking done in a straight line, corner on a neutral throttle, get the bike mostly upright and then accelerate.
 

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As others have said, smoothness is key. Another point is that in the wet you can brake pretty hard, accelerate pretty hard and corner kinda hard, but you can only do one thing at a time! Get your braking done in a straight line, corner on a neutral throttle, get the bike mostly upright and then accelerate.
^^^Really good advice right there. Always keep that “traction budget” in mind.
 
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