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February 8, 2007

Riding in the Rain

Riding in the Rain, originally uploaded by Burnszilla.

Three years ago when I walked into the office with my wet gear on co-workers would say, "Did you ride in today?"
"No, I walked here in my motorcycle gear." Now they don't say anything. They just think I'm crazy. Riding in the rain is not crazy if done correctly. Actually I find it quite relaxing, because you have to ride as smooth as possible.

I learned the hard way a few years ago as I approached a down hill traffic light in Seattle in the rain with a fully loaded K75S. I forgot to stay out of the center of the lane where an oil patch accumulates from cars leaking. I slid down the hill and used all of my skill to try and keep the bike up, but gravity won. At a low speed I dropped the bike on the right side. Two guys on the corner came over to help me lift it back up. The fairing and signal light were smashed. The most painful part of that trip was riding home and looking down at my damaged bike. I now stay in the right or left tire tracks part of the lane and watch out for slicker than snot oil patches, road paint and manhole covers.

I believe that all motorcyclists should ride in the rain to practice the skill and become confident at it. If you are on a long motorcycle trip, you have no control over the weather. Are you going to stay in your motel in Willits for the rest of the vacation and wait for the rain to pass? I sure wouldn't. Some people don't want to ride in the rain because it dirties the bike. On the other hand, I think it's a great way to wash your bike.
Get out there, ride in the rain.

When you're driving in your car or truck, you're protected from the rain. When you're riding a motorcycle, you're exposed to the elements. However, motorcycles do offer some advantages in wet weather. They provide a superior view of the road, easy maneuverability, and more escape routes from any potentially dangerous situations.

If you're riding in the rain, remember the following tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:

* Aim for smooth control. Be gentle with your brakes and throttle, but balance your grip. When you're riding in the rain, aim to complete your turns before you accelerate.

* Avoid last-minute reactions whenever possible. In wet weather, you must plan ahead to determine when you will need to accelerate or brake. Using engine braking for corners and junctions will reduce the risk of skidding.

Avoiding hazards is extremely important in the rain. Watch out for the following obstacles when you're riding your motorcycle in wet weather:

* Slick concrete surfaces
* Manhole covers
* Railroad tracks
* Puddles
* Potholes
* Oil spills

When you're purchasing tires for your motorcycle, avoid tires that are labeled as "long-lasting" if you plan to do a lot of riding in wet weather. Many motorcycle owners think this purchase is a good way to save money. However, these tires are typically less tacky and can't provide enough traction to keep you safe in wet weather.

Posted by stephen at February 8, 2007 4:01 PM


Excellent thoughts on riding in the rain. Like you I find it relaxing and not something to be avoided. Riding year round finds my Vespa in things worse than rain.

I get similar reactions at work when I come in with water running off my riding gear but while everyone else is locked in their cars I get to ride!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Posted by: Steve Williams [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 24, 2007 7:40 AM

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