Few Bikers think that when the rain starts to come down, so too should the garage door, covering the bike away until the sun shines again post the downpour. Honestly those Bikers are missing out on one of the best biking experiences, as riding in the rain can actually be a jolly good experience, so long as you know what to expect and how to change your riding accordingly. What exactly should be the ride pattern when riding in the rain, and how should your riding style vary?
Here are some tips:
Tip 1: Choose the right gear
A good waterproof / water-resistant rain suit (two-piece or one piece), gloves & boots can keep even the most persistent storm from soaking you, which is the first way of enjoying a day in the rain. Waterproof gear as such means extra warmth. Another often overlooked piece of the gear is the helmet, which should be equipped with an anti-fog visor. The nights are obviously longer during the winter, so chances are your commute will be in the dark - a clear shield is a must, as well. Whatever combination of gear you end up with, make sure that it doesn't intrude on your riding or distract you in any way. For example, you can't work the controls with frozen fingers. You may have to search to find the right gear, but you should be able to find a nice balance between comfort and practicality for the conditions you intend to ride in.
Tip 2: Ride smoother and smarter
When riding in less than ideal conditions, you must change the way you handle the motorcycle. Throttle adjustments need to be made smoothly and in small increments; use less lean angle; gradually apply your brakes and get your braking done early, so that in the last bit of the braking zone you are not forced to stab the brake lever, which might lead to a fish tailing phenomenon or even a long drag of tyres which in-turn leads to internal panicky situation.
Tip 3: Be Aware of Intersections
We all know about the oils in the pavement that surface after a rain, but what about the oil that was already there on the roads? Any place in the road where Vehicles come to a stop will have a higher concentration of the slick stuff. The rain makes it worse. You may not be able to spot this while riding, so it's best to decrease your speed when approaching intersections. Don't run yellow lights, because if you have to turn or brake quickly chances are you'll encounter a loss in traction. Also, while stopping at a red light, check the rear-view mirror for Vehicles that could slide into you from behind. Similarly, double your following distance so as not to be surprised by any vehicles stopping suddenly in front of you.
Tip 4: Watch out for manhole covers and pavement
Two things we've noticed that drastically reduce traction during wet weather are manhole covers and pavement, which are both almost like black ice when it's raining. When traveling in a straight line they pose less of a threat, but you should still be scanning well ahead and looking out for either as you turn the bike to enter an intersection. If and when you do encounter either of these traction inhibitors, check first if there is a line that you could easily take around them. If not, resist braking or accelerating hard and roll over them without making any aggressive moves. Note that in case you do have to change your line or turn over a greasy section, it's important to keep your hands relaxed on the handle bars and don't lean the bike any more than necessary.
Tip 5: Find a dry line
It is amazing how many people we see riding in an area of the lane that is wet even though an adjacent area is dry. Dry pavement offers superior traction and manoeuvrability, so make sure you continually place yourself in the driest section of the lane. Practice these riding tips, you will find that rain riding can actually be satisfying, not to mention make you a better and more confident rider. Sure, each ride will vary, with city riding in stormy weather almost always being the most nerve-racking, but just because the clouds roll in doesn't mean you can't ride almost every day.