Riding in the Rain Article from Pfaff Harley-Davidson
Rain is often the bane of motorcycle riders. No raincoat will make up for the fact that a rider is exposed to the elements in a way categorically different than other motorists. Unfortunately you’ll likely be unable to avoid the rain forever and you’ll eventually find yourself riding in the rain. There are several hazards to deal with during inclement weather, from slick roads to low-visibility, and it can be stressful getting caught out in the first place. So it pays to take some extra precautions and prepare for some wet weather.
Here at Pfaff Harley-Davidson, we want our customers riding safe and ready for the troubles the road and nature have to throw at them. In that spirit, we’ve put together a few precautions and tips for navigating in rainy weather. Read on, and if you have more questions, or you just want to check out a great selection of new and used Harley-Davidson motorcycles, head to our showroom in Richmond Hill, Ontario, near Vaughan, Markham, Newmarket, and Toronto.
The Right Equipment
Having the right gear can make all the difference in the world. Wind and rain will have you cold and uncomfortable in no time when they work together, so it pays to be properly dressed. Start with some outerwear with waterproofing. Packable plastic outerwear will help keep the rain off and should fit into your bike for whenever you need it, but they aren’t particularly durable and don’t offer any insulation. Unless you’re already wearing a heavy coat, plastic outerwear might not help. If you can keep your core warm, the rest of your body will be more or less comfortable, so it’s a good idea to go with a full-body, one-piece waterproof riding suit if you want to avoid the problem entirely.
You’ll want to keep your extremities warm as well. A full-face helmet is great for staying dry, as there aren’t any gaps for water to get in. An insulated pair of gloves will keep your hands dry and warm, but you can step it up with a pair with extra shielding on the knuckles for added protection. Waterproof boots are a must for anyone riding in the rain!
Read the Road
Once you’re equipped with the right rain gear, you’ll need to consider how to negotiate with adverse road conditions. Some sections of road will be more treacherous than others, where obstacles like standing water could cause you to hydroplane. Water will always pool in the lowest parts of the road, which can include the inner parts of turns, low dips, and potholes. Many roads will also wear down over time in a “W” pattern in which two furrows will form in the areas where car tires pass. These furrows will hold more water than the centerline of less-worn asphalt, and it’s there that you’ll often find better traction.
There are other low-traction obstacles you should be aware of, like metal construction plates, which can be extra-slick, and intersections where cars tend to idle and leak motor oil and other fluids. Over time these oily deposits will form super slick patches, and adding water to them is only going to make them worse.
Okay, so you’re equipped for the ride, and you’ve learned to read the road for spots with better and worse traction. The final element of preparation is to adopt the defensive riding mindset so that you can handle any challenge. You should always ride defensively when you’re on a motorcycle because you’re much smaller than other vehicles. But when it’s raining, you’ll be faced with low traction which can lead to major instability. So not only will you have to be on the usual alert for other motorists merging into your lane or causing hazards in your area, you’ll have to stay one step ahead because you won’t be able to dart out of the way like you normally would.
When you get to intersections, you’ll want to slow down and look ahead to the intersecting lanes to see if any cars are merging into your lane. Look several cars ahead when you’re on the highway to see any hazards that might be forming that you might react to. In general, you’ll need to stay more alert than usual, drive more cautiously, and take fewer risks.
Safe motorcycle riding is all about preparation and awareness. With the right gear and correct execution, you can stay safe and get to your destination without any problems. But remember that you can always wait out the worst of a storm. No matter how pressing your schedule, it’s not worth risking your health to try to push through a deluge if better conditions are following close behind. Stop by Pfaff Harley-Davidson® for all your riding needs. We’re located in Richmond Hill, Ontario and serve the areas of Vaughan, Markham, Newmarket, and Toronto. Come in today!