Whether it’s the thrill of the road or the fun of owning a vintage piece of equipment, having a motorcycle around can make life a little bit more exciting. From long-term journeys to unknown destinations and the ability to just get on the bike and go, few things are as inspiring as being able to travel wherever the mood takes you.
Of course, when most bikers think of travelling down the highway on a motorcycle, they’re thinking of blue skies and clear roads. But, the problem with hitting the road any time of the year is that the weather patterns can change on the dime. And, if you happen to be a die-hard when it comes to your bike, you’re probably not going to let a grey sky slow you down.
Fortunately, being committed to your bike doesn’t stop simply because the bad weather is out and the roads are wet. Instead of slinking away to wait for the perfect summer day, take the following tips into consideration instead. It’s important to keep in mind that a rainy day doesn’t have to spoil your plan for an adventurous ride; it’s just important to take the necessary precautions so you can keep yourself safe and still venture out.
Keep Your Distance
Many drivers tend to get aggressive on the road and follow too close to the vehicle in front of them, but this can be a major cause of fender benders. While it’s important to keep your distance no matter the road conditions, it becomes even more important when the status of the road is less than ideal. Given how much a wet road and rainy skies can impact your ability to observe the vehicle in front of you and stop at a moment’s notice, make sure you’re giving ample room to the driver in front of you. If there’s someone impatient behind you they might not like it, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the unexpected – and extra space will do just that.
Get Out the Rain Gear
It’s definitely a good idea to have the gloves and the goggles at the ready when the rain starts coming down. But, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s a lot more to being prepared for the rain than just these two items. Instead of taking a nice day for granted, make sure you always have the appropriate riding gear in case the weather takes a drastic turn. While thin sweaters that have wicking properties are a good place to start, a rain jacket is of epic importance when it comes to keeping the rest of your body warm and at the ready. If you happen to be uncomfortable on your bike, it’s going to show in your driving, so having the right garments is key in staying safe on the road.
What’s the Rush?
On a beautiful summer day, it’s easy to want to get out on the road and really rev your engine. However, in addition to keeping your distance in unruly road conditions, you’ll also want to take a little more time getting from place to place when the weather’s bad. There might be moments when you would generally blaze on through without a lot of caution, but amping up your speed will automatically lead to reduced visibility. Instead of pretending things will be OK, ensure that you take your time – wherever you’re going to – and remember there’s no race to win. In no time flat, sunny days will be back and you’ll be able to ride the road and satisfy the need for speed.
Watch for Puddles
A puddle of water can be part of the fun if you’re a kid in a pair of rubber boots. But, don’t forget that the look of a puddle on the road can be deceiving and it can actually harbour potholes or deep pits of water. It’s important when coming across puddles to try and avoid them as best as you can without overdoing it. However, if there’s a puddle in the middle of the road that you just can’t drive around, make sure you keep the bike upright, hold the throttle and keep away from the breaks. Driving through a puddle can be fun in a car, but when it comes to being more vulnerable on your bike, it’s important not to take any unnecessary risks.
Keep A Calm Driving Style
The expression ‘Keep calm and carry on’ might be so familiar that it’s lost all meaning, but this maxim holds true when it comes to the road. When road conditions are less than ideal, whether you’re in a vehicle or on a motorcycle, driving can be a pretty stressful experience. That’s precisely why it’s important to keep your calm and ensure that you’re not overreacting – or underreacting – to the situations you’re confronted with on the road. Instead of braking too bluntly or putting the pedal to the metal, make sure that you’re keeping all of your movements progressive and gentle. Reacting too quickly to a situation can be a recipe for trouble if the road’s a bit slick, so stay calm and trust in your driving ability.
Watch Out for Shiny, Smooth Surfaces
The average road can be full of peril on days when road conditions are good for the motorcyclist, but roads have even more potential for dangerous situations when they’re covered in a coat of rain. Surfaces that are slick and shiny on dry days are best avoided, as they’re likely to be even sketchier when it comes to a rainy day. But, in addition to shiny surfaces, keep in mind that it’s also a good idea to avoid any unknown surface that can cause your bike to slip including metal grates, manhole covers and any tar-covered road surface.
Wear the Right Gloves
If you’re a seasoned veteran to the world of motorcycling, there’s a good chance you’ve gone through every kind of glove there is. Whether it’s the disposable ones for cleaning or the mechanical ones for doing the tough maintenance, there’s a glove for every season. Fortunately, it’s no different when it comes to the rain as you’ll have to make sure you’re prepared for the worst of the stormy season. Whether you think it’s going to rain or it’s already coming down, a pair of waterproof motorcycle gloves will ensure that your hands stay warm and protected against the elements. As well, the right gloves will also give you assurance against losing your grip on the handlebars.
Use Glasses or Goggles
Many riders wear face shields when it comes to the rain. Unfortunately, while these can be great for a little bit of extra protection, they can also lead to the unfortunate side effect of fogging up and reducing your visibility. Instead of risking this if you’re wearing your face shield, try out a pair of goggles or glasses. It’s worth noting as well that if you’re having problems with visor fogging, you may want to try out an Icon helmet. These helmets are made in Portland, Oregon and have anti-fogging properties that make them ideal for less stellar road conditions.
And Make it Visible!
The right rain gear might be a great assurance against the stormy weather. However, much like cyclists do at night, it can be even better to improve your visibility with a little bit of reflective gear. Instead of just going waterproof, it may be time to consider investing in some reflective accessories or a vest that you can put on over top of your gear. If anything, when you’re on your bike in less than ideal conditions, it will make it that much easier for other motorists to watch out for you.
Follow the Leader
The road can definitely feel a lot more dangerous when you’re travelling down it on a motorcycle instead of inside a vehicle. As a result of all the inherent dangers of grates and potholes, if you happen to find a dry part of the road stick to it! Often times in stormy weather, there will be dry spots on the road created by the tire tracks of other vehicles. Fortunately, this can be a great way to avoid the wet parts of the road and can also give your tires a little more traction for those passages of the road that aren’t quite so dry.
There are plenty of durable top and side cases available on the market that can last you through the toughest of seasons. Fortunately, there are also a few options out there that are waterproof and can guard against the really wet days on the road. But, just in case, it’s a good idea to ensure that everything you have that could be damaged with a little bit of water is taken care of. You may have a great top case, but instead of just throwing your phone into it, wrap it tightly in plastic or a Ziploc bag. A case can be great, but it’s not worth taking for granted the fact that, if the weather is really rough, it might not be able to hold off the excess moisture for long.
Try a Flashy Face Shield
It’s true that a clear shield is often the way to go when it comes to seeing the conditions of the road ahead. But, when it comes to stormy weather, a little bit of contrast is the key. Instead of going for clear, you may want to try an orange or yellow face shield to increase your awareness of the road. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but it’s worth taking all the precautions you can when it comes to driving in the rain. And, if your face shield happens to be anti-fog or Pinlock shield, that’s an added bonus.
Test Out the Tires
Before heading out in rainy conditions, it goes without saying that you should be doing a once over of your bike to ensure that everything from the top cases to the skid plates is intact and ready to go. It’s just important not to forget about the tires, as there will be even more pressure on them in a rainy situation. You don’t need to go all out when testing your tires, but make sure before heading out that you’ve checked their pressure and looked for any punctures or excess erosion. Once you’re on the road, you may also want to keep in mind that stopping and going can be helpful in warming up your tires, which can improve your moves in less favourable conditions.
Many a helmet maker will tell you not to apply Rain-X to your visor as it can make it brittle. However, if you’re replacing your visor on a somewhat consistent basis due to scratches and scuffs, Rain-X can actually be a great save when it comes to riding in the rain. As this product can actually assist in helping rainwater to bead up and run off, it works to provide increased visibility. There are plenty of things to keep in tank bags, but adding a bit of Rain-X can definitely help out when the weather conditions turn along the road.
Wear Some Wool
A rain jacket, some goggles and a face shield are definitely a good place to begin for rainy days. However, one of the most important elements of riding your bike properly will involve what your feet are doing, and you’ll want them to stay dry. Instead of merely reaching for a thick pair of socks, consider purchasing a Gore-Tex pair, or some Merino Wool socks if you prefer something more cost effective. If the rain is pounding and there’s little chance of reprieve from it, these types of socks will still be able to keep your feet warm even if they’re wet.
The thrill of the open road on a perfect day is something every motorcyclist vies for, but every day on the road isn’t going to be an ideal one. Instead of surrendering to the weather, follow a few choices tips in the stormy season to keep yourself warm and well prepared. By having the proper motorcycle accessories and following some basic rules of the road, you just might get to love riding in the rain!