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Riding in the rain: motorcycle safety tips

Published on: 17 October 2014

Whether you ride to work or enjoy the thrill of the open road – if you ride long and far enough, the odds are you may be confronted by rainy weather, especially in summer. 

Taking into account your experience, skill, preparation and risk tolerance, riding in the rain should be avoided. However, for some, riding a motorcycle in the rain can be anything from frightening to fun.

Be prepared

Rain or shine, preparing for any ride is important. This is especially true when rain has been predicted and you have no other choice but to carry on when it hits. The following pointers will help you get through those times.

  • Make sure your motorcycle is in good operating condition – the primary focus should be on lights, tyres, shocks and brakes.
  • Check that all the lights work: this includes tail and brake lights, indicators, and headlights. Get into the habit of riding with your main beams on, especially in low visibility conditions. 
  • Brake pads and discs should be checked for wear. Bleed your motorcycle’s brake lines before the ride.
  • Tyres should have a good tread depth as this provides for traction through water displacement.
  • Check tyre pressures periodically. Underinflated tyres are more likely to hydroplane.

Safe riding techniques for bad weather: Getting caught in the rain

Immediately slow down and increase your following distance. Lowered speeds and careful movements are key on wet roads. For better control of the bike, keep your body relaxed and not a death grip on the bars. Progressively use the brakes. Going up a gear can help prevent spinning the rear wheel.

If possible, pull over under a bridge or stop at a petrol station, and wait 30 minutes for the dirt and oil to float to the surface and be washed away by general traffic or more rain.

Stay off painted lines, manhole covers or anything that will jeopardise traction. Also, avoid pools of water as it can hide potholes and debris.

Thunderstorms: It is not advisable to ride where lightning is striking. Riders have been killed or knocked unconscious while riding in lightning.

Strong winds: A motorcycle is like a little sail. Lighter bikes are especially susceptible to side winds. Be prepared to have to lean into the crosswind just to stay upright. But if leaning into the breeze, also be ready to compensate if the crosswind abruptly stops. Some riders have been known to ride parallel to cars or larger vehicles, which shields them from extreme crosswinds. If you do try this, be careful not to ride in anyone’s blind spot.

Wear the right gear  

When going on a long trip where there’s a good chance of rain, always pack a rain suit, a good quality pair of all-weather boots to keep your feet dry, and the same goes for a pair of gloves. Remember to pack your rain suit on top, not at the bottom of your saddlebag! Wear bright colours for increased visibility to others.

Do you have any tips for riding in bad weather? Go to our FacebookTwitter or Google Plus page – we’d love to hear from you.

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