10 Tips for Riding in the Rain
The monsoon season is back in Malaysia and it is now raining almost daily. But then again, it can be sunshine one moment and torrential rain the next over here. Riding in the rain can be challenging – to some, it’s scary and to others, fun. But we need to ride through the rain in any case, so we best be prepared:
1. Wear brightly coloured gear
Wearing brightly coloured gear is important whenever you ride, especially in the rain. Car drivers already have difficulty seeing the road, what more the small figure of a rider on a motorcycle. However, if you do not want to look like a parachutist, look for a rain gear that has many or large reflector panels.
2. Stop at a safe place
If you cannot continue riding due to intense rain or flooded roads, do stop in a safe area. The safest is at a petrol station but they may be few and far in between, thereby stopping underneath an overhead bridge is the obvious choice. But get off your bike and wait behind the safety barrier should you choose the second option. DO NOT sit on your bike. Keep in mind that drivers have impaired vision in the rain too.
3. Slow down
Slowing down is a prerequisite. But how slow is slow? The fine point here is not to ride too slowly. Being too slow means the tyres do not generate enough centrifugal force to fling water from underneath the thread, thereby causing aquaplaning. Besides that, the reason we stay upright is due to the gyroscopic force generated by the spinning wheels, as in the gyroscopic force increases as the wheel rotates faster and vice versa. In other words, riding too slow results in instability. Therefore, ride at a pace whereby you can feel the grip but not so fast that the tyres start squiggling around.
4. Keep it smooth
If you are used to aggressive riding, this is the time to learn how to be smooth. Smooth inputs such as steering, braking and throttle control build confidence, even in the dry. In the rain, however, smooth inputs are critical. So, steer smoothly, brake smoothly by squeezing (not clamping) on the lever, and roll open or roll close the throttle smoothly. You will suddenly find that the bike and tyres are actually very controllable in the rain. And your confidence will soar.
5. One control at a time
Perform one control input at a time. For example, DO NOT try to brake while you steer or downshift while braking hard. The tyres have only so much traction to give and lumping all everything together will overwhelm the contact patch, resulting in skidding.