Andrew Anderson © 2012 The Happy Biker All Rights Reserved
WET WEATHER RIDING - Keep smooth, warm and dry!
Ok hands up if you actually like riding in the wet….
A lot of riders go to pieces when they see that tell tale first spot of rain on their visor… all of a sudden they tense up, their bike will no longer accelerate, brake, and as for going around a corner… no chance. Their riding becomes jerky and the bike, as a result, is unbalanced, it’s like a viscous circle that they cant get out of.
But should it be like that?
People think they will get wet… well that’s true if you don’t wear waterproof kit… simple really. The other day I walked in to the office with a car driver, it was lashing it down, my lid was wet through, my waterproof oversuite had water dripping off it and my gloves were ringing wet through. The guy laughed at me and said “I bet you are soaking wet through” “no mate” I replied, “I’m nice n dry in here and as snug as the preverbal bug in a rug… unlike you…” . You see, he had just walked 200 yards in the pouring rain with no overcoat or umbrella, his suit was wet through…
Ok so why do I ride in the wet…. Well traffic builds up more, which means bikes have an even greater advantage, also there would appear to be a greater camaraderie with bikers riding in the wet, I always nod to fellow riders, in the wet I always get a reply, in the dry, it can be hit and miss.
I also like the different riding style wet roads give you. Yes we all know that wet roads don’t provide ad much grip as dry roads and that water cools your tyres, but it doesn’t mean you can’t bank the bike over. Ok you can’t open the throttle to the stop, break hard, do wheelies, stoppies, scratch on your favourite bend…… riding in the wet means you need to be silky smooth with the controls, short shift, break earlier, and be gentle. Above all else RELAX.
Look ahead, not 3 feet in front of you, look at that road surface, manhole covers can be deadly, as can white lines and over banding, look into the corner and aim you bike for the grippiest bits, those shiny bits where tar comes to the surface can be as slippery as hell. If there is a bank (not Natwest!) running along the side of the road gravel or debris could have been washed into your path, grass, leaves, mud, road kill, all become slippy in the wet…. Just avoid it, and because you are riding smoother, breaking earlier, you have more time to react.
And remember our favourite hate… diesel… its bad enough on dry roads… it’s a killer in the wet, it gives off that lovely rainbow effect on the road, but avoid it at all costs
Ok when going around the bend…. It’s wet so I should sit bolt upright? Nope… hang off the bike, by transferring your weight into the corner, you can actually keep the bike more upright than if you didn’t hang off, and thus keep a bigger tyre contact patch on the road… sounds daft? Try it…
Don’t lower your tyre pressures… that will close up the groves and make repelling water more difficult. Wear good kit, clean visor, carry a bit of cloth to wipe your visor with when you are stopped at lights, break in a straight line, earlier than usual and remember be silky silky smooth. If your lid has top vents close them, you don’t want water dropping down inside your lid, also close those brow vents on your visor, keep the chin vent open to prevent misting, and if you do steam up just open your visor a bit.
If you are caught out with only summer gloves, get a pair of those free diesel gloves at petrol stations, If your boots will fit inside your leathers, do that, it will save rain running inside your boots.
Its an all new riding style and it can really be enjoyable.. but watch out for those cars with steamed up windows, filter with care, and if you don’t ride with your headlight on… put it on.