If you’ve been riding for numerous years, you’re bound to have encountered rain during one of your travels. Whether you are on a cross-country trek, or just a quick Sunday ride, rain can occur at any time, especially during the winter and spring seasons. Rather than trying to avoid it, prepare with these tips and be ready to ride your motorcycle in the rain.
Before you leave for your ride, there are a few parts to inspect in order to be prepared for the wet weather.
- Tires: Your tires need to be ready to channel water, meaning they need to have tread. It’s recommended to inspect your tires for even wear and ensure their pressure is suitable for your motorcycle. An under or over inflated tire will react differently in water than it will when it is dry.
- Brakes: Your brake pads should have plenty of brake material to stop as needed during wet weather. Check out the video on how to identify wear and tear on your brake pads.
- Oil and Brake Fluid: Check your motorcycle to ensure that there is no leakage, including your oil or brake fluid. An oil leak may not necessarily cause a major safety issue in dry conditions. However, when oil is mixed with water, it becomes a recipe for slippery, unsafe conditions that can end your ride early.
Before you leave on your ride, protect yourself from the elements with proper riding gear and attire. Note that there are two different types of water prevention clothing, waterproof and water-resistant. Waterproof clothing/gear will not allow water penetration unless under more extreme circumstances, like being submerged in water. Water-resistant gear will shed water from the surface but tend to allow water penetration after a certain period of time when hit with water continuously. When looking for new riding gear for more adverse riding conditions, take note of the type of water prevention the gear is supposed to have.
- Water-resistant/waterproof clothing , including jackets, pants, and/or one-piece suits, are a must when riding in the rain. For riding gear to have good water protection, the key is overlapping seams that don’t align. Zippers should have a flap (or two) that covers the zipper completely and the edge of the flap shouldn’t not align directly with the zipper. Cuffs on the jacket should be long enough to cover over your riding gloves and have a cinching mechanism like a hook-and-loop section that can be tightened around the cuff of the glove. Wet clothes and skin will become cold and will reduce your reaction time to events around you so it is important to keep your focus by staying warm and dry. (Also keep in mind that dyed leather gear tends to bleed the color when wet, so you and your gear may end of a nice shade of blue if not properly protected from water intrusion.)
- Waterproof riding boots and gloves is effective at deterring water penetration. Each need to fit tight to you to prevent exposed areas for water to find a path through. It’s recommended that they fit tight enough to be tucked into a jacket or rain suit.
- If you have a tank bag fitted to your motorcycle or prefer to ride with a small backpack or saddlebag, consider carrying additional dry clothing.
- For helmets, a full-faced helmet will offer the best protection from water. For those who ride with a ½ or ¾ face helmet pack a set of goggles that can be used in place of normal eye protection. For an added layer of protection on your face, use a balaclava that has a protective outer layer (e.g. Gore-Tex) that will shed water and also block wind from getting to your skin. It should have straps that loop under your arms that will keep the balaclava tucked into your jacket and prevent it from riding up and exposing a potential seam for water to get through.
- Plastic bags are resourceful when you need to keep your valuables dry during a downpour.
Beyond having the right riding gear for cold or wet weather, there are some other considerations to have in your riding plan.
- Plan Your Route: If the rain develops into a downpour and becomes a hazard to continue riding in, have an alternate path or a rest stop to take shelter in for a brief period or until conditions are safer. Slow rainstorms can turn quickly into gully washers. Mark some favorite restaurants, rest stops, or alternate locations on your GPS or paper map so that you can easily get to if needed.
- Anti-Fogging Treatments: Fogging is also a concern when rain or wet weather conditions are prominent. Fogging occurs when there is humidity and a temperature difference on either side of the object. Therefore, your goggles, helmet visor, and even your windshield can fog up during a rainstorm. Before you depart, wipe the surfaces with an[…]
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