alex

133 months ago

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Why You Need to Ride in the Rain

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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:

Tire Grip

This is the number one reason I find people don't want to wet-ride. Tire grip can be 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.

michelin pilot road 3

michelin pilot road 3

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.

Motorcycle riding in the rain

Motorcycle riding in the rain

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.

Wear something bright in the rain

Wear something bright in the rain

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 on any 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.

Rossi in the rain - a glorious sight

Rossi in the rain - a glorious sight

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gslrider

99 months ago

I have no problems riding in the rain. I've ridden through some torrential downfalls. Not fun. I know what me and my bike can handle. I just hate getting wet. Even with a suit on, it's not a fun ride for me.

Ianthomo

100 months ago

I have ridden thousands of kilometres in pouring rain and it has done wonders for my confidence provided I have good tyres and i trust my Michelin Road 3. With the correct wet hear you stay dry and warm. My only issue is fogging of my visor but there are several products that assist.

TownzlG

100 months ago

I have a pair of Pirrelli SL26's and I've had them out in the rain and they handle great.

jessicadally

109 months ago

Alex, is it an older helmet? There are pinlock visors for the RX-q available at US dealers and online at US companies now...

alex

110 months ago

@jessicadally - I used to do the same - heated jacket, grips and gloves along with all GoreTex and an insulating layer make anything bearable. Sadly, there's no pinlock for my Arai RX-Q (at least in North America - Europe has had that stuff for years and yes, it's awesome)

jessicadally

110 months ago

Really spoiled myself but I was commuting an hour each way in almost any weather (down to 25 degrees F at one point). Streetguard jacket, Tourshell pants, Schuberth with Pinlock (I can not recommend Pinlock enough... It is a game changer... Best money you'll spend on rain riding gear- you will not regret it)... Heated jacket and socks when I'm not riding a horizontally opposed motor bike.Once you get your set up right you're downright comfortable. Then riding in the rain almost becomes joyful. Less yahoos on the road most of the time and your general feeling of badassery goes way way up.

Slyck255

110 months ago

@Alex

Never, ever fails: take the rainsuit - no rain!

Cheers!

alex

110 months ago

@VRSCDX - I don't have any personal experience with the Pilot 4, but I recently did meet someone who did. While it's anecdotal (and they were on a Versys) he said there really was not much grip difference between dry and wet.

VRSCDX

110 months ago

@AlexHow about a update for the Michelin pilot 4? My Michelin Commander 2's really suck in the rain or even just damp asphalt. As a matter of fact they suck on dry asphalt too, but I am very limited as to what I can put on a 240 rim.

alex

126 months ago

@fmortara - we have the same problem (potholes) here in Ontario. Some of our roads are, to be quite frank, utterly disgraceful. Some city roads in Toronto feel like you're off-roading.

fmortara

126 months ago

Riding in the wet IS fun. Here in Brazil we need to be extra careful with potholes filled with water. I prefer going through roads i know the quality in the wet.

UncleMac

127 months ago

Last summer, I was riding when the weather decided to piss on my parade. I pulled under an overpass and pulled raingear over my riding gear. There were five other bikes parked there, waiting out the squall. I heard one guy say "Is he going keep riding?" so I grinned and said "Yup!" and then pulled on my helmet and headed out. ๐Ÿ™‚

EasyRidr

133 months ago

You're welcome Alex. Let us know what you think of it when you try it.

alex

133 months ago

Thanks @easyridr - it's great to get another opinion on NeverWet. I'll make sure to test it on something old first now

TonyFedun

133 months ago

@alex it really is amazing what heated grips, vest and a one piece suit will do for you.

alex

133 months ago

@tonyFedun - excellent suggestion re heated kit. I bought mine a few years ago and never looked back. Got me down to -28C one day (with windchill)

TonyFedun

133 months ago

My second set of Pilots this year and they are fantastic! Riding the two up B's now.

TonyFedun

133 months ago

Rain, snow and wind are all great teachers. I agree and would add some heated gear as well.

alex

133 months ago

@Agent3012 - I can only assume the duck was some sort of high technology direction finder? Good to know the other gear worked well, too.