Ridin' in the rain - Sportbike Forum: Sportbike Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 07:17 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Question Ridin' in the rain

I left for work today early this morning knowing it would rain. This is a one-hour commute each way. However, it wasn't supposed to rain till later this morning and ease up by afternoon. Well, my attempt to beat the rain didn't work. Traffic didn't cooperate and I ended up riding through about 5 minutes of very steady rain. It was still early in the trip and I figured I would dry off a bit by the time I got to work since I wasn't too soaked. Well, the road for the next several miles was wet too and so now I had road spray and lots of slow cars. After about 15 minutes into the trip, I decided the going back through the few minutes of rain to go home would be better than road spray, slow cars, and the possibility of more rain. However, it really started raining between me and home, but I didn't realize this till it was too late. The trip back home was constant rain. No place to hide, so I was soaked by the time I got back. I am very inexperienced at riding in wet weather. I just don't enjoy it, so if it's wet outside, I prefer not to ride. I was thinking about several things as I was riding in the rain. The biggest one was how much it would suck to have my wheels slide out from under me due to the reduced traction. So now I have a few questions I'd like to ask.

1. Just how easily do bikes hydroplane?
2. How much loss of traction might I expect on street tires in really wet weather? (say for example if I could take a particular turn at 120 on good pavement, dry weather, what might the realistic speed for that turn be on a wet road in rain?)
3. Any other tricks to keeping the visor clear in rain or road spray other than quick wipes with your hand?
4. Any other advice you can give besides slow down?


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 07:28 AM
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It's pretty easy for the bike to come out from under you in wet conditions. The only way to prevent it from happening is by slowing down. As far as keeping water off your visor, I used rain-x. It did great for me. The best advice is to slow down and take it easy. IMO it's good to ride in the rain a little bit. You really never know when you may get caught in it. I went out in the rain a few times just to see what it was like and get a little experience in. Invest in a decent rainsuit and take it whenever it looks like it may rain. They work wonders. I don't know about hydroplaning. I don't even want to think about that.
Jason-No-Bike is offline  
post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 07:48 AM
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Don't forget, if it hasn't rained in awhile, there's always a buildup of dust and oil on the road. When the rain comes this layer gets very slippery! It usually takes a good downpour to get it cleaned off. ( same situation with riding in eary spring when the snow just melted. )

When I'm riding in the rain, I do less than the posted speed limits on corners. Take extra care to keep all rider inputs very smooth. And avoid hitting the puddles, ride inbetween the ruts, hydroplaning is not fun.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 09:32 AM
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Re: Ridin' in the rain

Since you commute and live in an area where it often rains, you need to overcome your apprehension. First, get a good rain suit and waterproof gloves, and either waterproof boots or rubber overboots. It's a lot easier to deal with rain when you're dry.
1. Just how easily do bikes hydroplane?
In my experience, less easily than cars. I don't think I've ever hydroplaned a motorcycle. Relatively small contact patches that limit our dry grip actually work to our advantage in the wet.
2. How much loss of traction might I expect on street tires in really wet weather?
On a clean but wet surface, with tires made to handle wet conditions (some sport tires aren't), you're not going to use up available grip at normal street riding speeds. But, as oldgixer noted, a dirty and wet surface offers far less grip than one that is merely wet.

My only rain crash occurred in Turn 6 at Laguna Seca about 10 years ago. The big bikes that had kicked my Hawk GT's ass all day found the tables turned when the rain started falling. I, of course, was lovin it. There's nothing quite as satisfying as passing a much faster bike with skill as your only advantage. However, as the deluge continued, a stream of mud began flowing across the bowl-like apex of 6. And that was my downfall (no pun intended...or, maybe it was). I eventually lost the front end and slid all the way to the turn's exit. Fortunately, I rode off unscathed after bending the shift lever back into place.
3. Any other tricks to keeping the visor clear in rain or road spray other than quick wipes with your hand?
I try to keep my visor down and tightly closed to keep water off the inside surface. Look for gloves with a built-in squeegee on the left index finger and wipe when necessary.
4. Any other advice you can give besides slow down?
Stay loose on the bars and be smooth in all your actions--throttle, clutch, steering, and brakes.

And, practice. When the rainy season begins, look for an opportunity to take a nice long ride. Just put on your rain gear and go out and do it. It's the perfect time to brush up your wet-weather skills, and to make sure your rain gear doesn't have any holes and re-accustom yourself to wearing it.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 11:48 AM
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Excellent response DataDan. I have to agree on all counts. I have NEVER hydroplaned on a bike! Just take it easy and get gear for the weather if you are going to ride in that stuff.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 12:53 PM
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Good tips above by oldgixer & DataDan

Actually if you can find a pair of loose Gore-Tex (no liner) trousers or those zipped clean apart at the sides (often used by airport people, police, etc) there is something you can easily carry on the bike if it might rain & will keep you dry.
Go into a shop that handles Gore-Tex & you might find a loose fitting jacket (again no lining) that can go over what you normally were & a two-piece like that will last a long time. I can stand wet gloves & wet feet.
Also anything painted on the road is like ice such as the deviding yellow lines, the white lines & such.
You soon learn that your brakes.tyres do not have the stopping power so give yourself more space from those in front of you. By now you will have realized being behind a small or low car is better then an SUV, van, truck, etc. Let them set the steady pace for all you want to do is get home without taking as spill & you are still LEARNING.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 01:34 PM
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also if you can pace your self at a safe distance behind a car usualy you can see where there tire marks are because they are picking up the water with there tires and are leaving a wet but, not as water soaked area. i try to ride there. Also dont get scared b/c what happens when you get scared...you start to make bad decsions. If all else fails pull over and wait. As for visor fogging up what do you guys do when you have to wear glasses too. Cause sometimes my visor and glasses fog up.

there's hope in the words and emotion in the eyes
it's so easy to be misled by the savvy gentle guise
and like fools we trust the delivery
but it's all just drunk sincerity
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-26-2002, 07:39 PM
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I ride in the rain alot as it rains in Florida everyday in the summer and I don't seem to be smart enough to drive my truck to work Anyway, a good rainsuit helps. Don't buy the cheap Home Depot special. Many have a built in fly and guess what gets wet first when the rain starts coming down hard. (It's usually cold too I might add!) Also close all the vents on the helmet. Once water gets inside the helmet you won't get it out till you stop. I always slow down and haven't had a problem with grip in a long time. I've also never hydroplaned. I did hit a good sized puddle yesterday that escaped my notice, but it caused no problem other than the pucker that accompanied the realization of what I'd hit. The key is to realize the conditions aren't optimum and adjust accordingly.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-27-2002, 09:12 AM
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I wear glasses all the time.

In all my yrs I have never had the glasses fog up. Possibly that could be caused my heavy breathing & I am not kidding here --simply keep your breathing going down rather then up or directly at the interior of the visor.
Like in cooler Autumn or Spring days I pull a LARGE bandana out of my saddle bag, put it into a diaper fold (just think of the cowboys in hold-ups or moving cattle) & tie it from just below my nose to around the back of the head & so I can break into IT & nothing else fogs up.
Keep the visor CLEAN & use anything that make it SLIPPERY on the outside. So when at hwy speeds one only needs to turn head fully to the left & right to have 50% of the rain & crap roll off.
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 07-27-2002, 10:12 AM
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I dont prefer to ride in the rain anymore, but i used to ride in anything, even during flash flood warnings and possible hail warnings, usually 'cause I didnt have much of a choice. but anywho, I always wait at least a half hour after the rain starts for the oils to wash away. I've never had a traction problem, like stated above, just be real easy on the clutch, throttle, brake, etc. and watch out for painted lines and arrows. I make sure i'm wearing wool or fleece socks or anything else that might get wet to keep warm. I've never lost traction, and I've hit standing water that was up to my boots at least at 50mph, and the bike just cut right through it (if i was in my truck it would have been like hitting the brakes, but the bike just slipped right through with no problem). Sometimes I put some lean into smooth curves, and if its clear on I-95, I'll step it up to 110mph, I'm not always the safest in the rain (when no one's around), but i haven't had any problems... yet. I think a lot of my confidence comes from learning to ride during a rainy weekend at the MSF course.
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