Riding In The Rain

At some point you are going to get caught in the rain.  If you ride regularly it's unavoidable. If just a shower, you'll only find it a  inconvenience, but if a downpour, then it's normally best to park until it passes. If a thunderstorm, take shelter so you don't get hit by lightening. In all these cases there are a few factors to consider. Knowing how it will affect you and your bike should help you change your riding style to manage the wet conditions. The first and most important thing with regard to riding in the rain is to maintain your vision. If it's raining too hard to see, get off the road as soon as you can.


The second most important factor when riding in the rain is your traction. As a motorcyclist it's hard to ignore the changing road conditions, both you and your bike perform very differently in the rain.  The reduction in traction will be the most obvious difference, typically around 50% - but it can be significantly more with soft compound sports tires.  Although this is not to say that a hard compound touring tire will necessarily produce more grip, just that the change will be less noticeable. If your tires are badly worn or bald they can't get rid of the water. You'll be hydroplaning before you realize it, with two only two wheels it's like riding on ice, and you'll be down before you know it. Even with good rubber you'll find the road slippery in places, especially right after the rain starts and before it has time to wash away the accumulated traffic oil and grease. Painted lines and rubber intersection markers can be as slick as ice. When accelerating through a corner your back wheel will spin out if you don't go easy on the throttle.

We are all taught that braking distances are doubled in bad weather and that we should compensate appropriately, but it is easy to forget how it also affects acceleration and cornering.  Be conservative on speed, lean angle, and braking, and you can keep riding in most rain conditions.


This is not just about being gentle on the brakes and throttle, but also ensuring that you balance your need for traction. On dry roads it is easy to accelerate away from a turn even when the bike is leaning over, but the risk of a slide increases in the wet as your available traction is split between cornering and accelerating.  If you try to complete the turn before you accelerate, your demand for grip will be reduced.  The same applies to cornering, if you slow your entry speed early, you will be less likely to need to brake mid corner.

Plan and Look Ahead

Last minute reactions should always be avoided, particularly on a wet road.  If you plan ahead you should be able to anticipate where you need to brake, position and accelerate.  This will enable you to make better use of engine braking for corners and intersections, rather than just relying on the brakes.

Engine braking reduces the risk of skidding, as your wheels are unlikely to lock up.  However, it is important to be sympathetic to your bike, by allowing the revs to drop before changing to a lower gear.  If you change down too early, you risk momentarily locking the back wheel and could potentially strain the engine, gearbox and chain.  It's also important to note any following traffic, which may be expecting to see a brake light before you slow down.

How does rain affect the rider?

If you were lucky enough to remember your rain gear, then you will be able to proceed in relative comfort.  If you didn't, then after about 10 minutes or less, you will be completely soaked .It becomes a safety issue when the temperature drops and you're in danger of rapid hypothermia. Besides  being uncomfortable, you will after a while start to feel cold and will be more reluctant to move about on the bike.  It is important not to underestimate how this affects you. 

The visibility of others sharing the road is also reduced in bad weather, so riding with your lights on and wearing some high visibility clothing is also important.

Wet weather riding doesn't have to be avoided, and sometimes can't  If you give yourself more space, compensate for other drivers who don't adjust and focus on smoothness and planning, you will reduce the risks.  Additionally, keeping an eye on how the rain affects you will also help prevent you from making mistakes


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