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Wet Weather Motorcycling

Updated on December 9, 2009

It is likely that the majority of motorcyclists will encounter wet weather conditions at some point. For the hardened motorcycle commuter, this is inevitable but even the more casual fair-weather motorcyclist will likely require to negotiate wet conditions due to unforeseen changes in the weather.

Motorcycling in wet weather conditions presents a number of challenges which are primarily concerned with traction, visibility and staying dry. Decent motorcycle waterproof clothing is essential to stay dry, comfortable and prevent fatigue. Keeping warm is important too, thermal clothing can be used to complement waterproof kit. Refining machine control in adverse conditions such as wet weather riding will positively contribute to a more confident and capable motorcyclist.

Rain and wet weather brings a significant reduction in traction which calls for a smooth riding technique. Smooth steering, throttle control and braking is essential to maintain adequate control of the motorcycle. Slowly engage the clutch and use higher gears to avoid abruptly loading the motorcycles tyres and risk breaking traction. Manhole covers, white lines, painted areas and places where oil, diesel and grease have built up become much slippier in wet weather. The initial rain after a period of dry weather presents the greatest hazards when the oil, grease and dirt which has been deposited on the road during the preceding dry spell is mixed with water to form a slippery mixture before being washed away.

Standing water is another hazard which must be dealt with during wet weather riding. It’s often unclear how deep the standing water is and it can often disguise potholes. Standing water is best avoided if possible or, if not, tackled at low speed.

Good tyres in good condition are essential for safe motorcycling in wet weather conditions. Correct tyre pressures and adequate tread are important to disperse water and ensure optimum traction otherwise a dangerous aquaplaning situation could arise where the motorcycle glides across a thin film of water and becomes largely unresponsive to any input.

Visibility needs to be considered both from the ability of the motorcyclist to see the road

ahead and also other road users ability to see the motorcyclist. Wet weather can increase

condensation on visors which mist up and reduce the riders ability to see the road ahead. A number of solutions are available to address this problem. Anti-fog masks are worn under the helmet around the mouth and nose and deflect warm breath away from the visor to reduce or prevent the visor fogging up. Another popular and effective solution is provided by visor inserts or chemical products which are applied directly onto the interior surface of the visor to create a thin barrier which is resistant condensation, keeping the visor clear.

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