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I've been riding for about 20 years, but always been a fair weather rider. I wanted to ride more but it's tough because here on the gulf coast it's likely to be sunny all day and then start storming right when I leave work. About 2 months ago I decided to quit worrying about it and start riding everyday. Well, it's been going great. I've got caught in a couple of showers and I did fine. I will admit to being slightly nervous, but I feel I overcame it well.

But then today I had a real bad ride home. It started raining hard on me half way home. Just after that I made the mistake of hitting an unfamiliar curve a bit too fast. I really thought I was gonna lose it. I barely managed not to go down, but it scared me. Not a minute later a truck came up and changed lanes right into me. I hit the white line and just narrowly avoided him.

After that I had to pull over. I was shaken. I really didn't want to ride home, but I had no choice. I eventually got back on the road and eased on home. I didn't feel good until I got back on a familiar road close to home.

My question is, how did you foul weather riders get comfortable riding in the rain? Will I eventually get more comfortable doing this, or is there something I need to be doing to help my riding comfort level? I know I made some mistakes today. I'm open to any suggestions because I really want to get comfortable with this.
 

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I live on the Atlantic coast.. in New England... when we get a Northeast storm.. it always seems to blow wet nasty weather in for at least 3 days.. I just ended up being out in it and did it..I am careful.. but not to the point of creating problems for myself.. too careful can do that..
 

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I ride year round in all types of weather.You get comfortable riding in the rain, by riding in the rain. Ride smart, make the necessary adjustments for the conditions and improve your skill level. If at any time you are uncomfortable and are able, pull over and regroup before getting back on the road. Always ride within your skill level and continuously improve your riding skills.
 

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It is as much a mind set as it is having the right gear. They both work together. You must learn to relax a bit. Let go of the "Death Grip" and let the bike go where it needs to a bit. Your hands just need to float on the grips and your fingers in the ready at all times.

Having the right gear helps with the mind set too. Your tires must have good siping to get the water out from under the tread. They say that a tire has 80% of its dry grip when wet. But the better the siping is the better the grip. If you are in a watertight cocoon (rainsute) its like being inside a car. But you must also understand, in good weather they can not see us, how do you expect them to see you when its Pi$$ing down on you and its gloomy out. Hi Viz clothing and better lighting are the best defense, it helps a lot but will not protect you 100%. I wear ANSI Class 3 wet weather gear. The retro-reflective bands POP! Sorta like this http://www.safetyvests.com/high-visibil ... it-2083sr/
 

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I ride in the rain occasionally. Our rain isn't so much the downpours you can get in other places, but a slow steady drizzle that still makes you and the road wet. But I can understand that if you're out in one of the deluges I encountered on an Air National Guard deployment to Gulfport, Missippippi, it might be better just to wait ten minutes and let the rain pass and the water drain.

Clothing is something everyone has their opinion on, and the choices are numerous. I've never really encountered a rain suit that didn't end up leaving me wet from persperation. With that said, I bought my normal riding gear with the idea that it would be suitable for multiple seasons. I wore the Olympia jacket all year long to freezing temps and through rain and it never leaked.

There are other considerations less obvious though than strictly, "how do I stay dry"?

Even though the helmet manufacturers do not like you to use RainX...I do. I've used it on three helmets. A cheapie I bought on JC Whitney, my Nolan N102 till I dropped it and it died. And on my current Scorpion EXO-900. I've never noticed anything bad happen to the visor as a result, and even if it did destroy the visor, I think I'd just buy another visor and use it with RainX. The RainX in my situation is invaluable. I never use any kind of visor wiper...and I don't have a problem with visibility either. Even if the speed isn't enough to clear the rain, I've found that I can turn my head sideways and the visor will clear. Turn the other way, and clear that side too. I depend on the RainX so much, I have a spare bottle at work. If it seems a little weak in the morning commute, I can put it on there and be ready for the ride home.

Somehow, many riders have come up with the idea that the visor is supposed to be closed all the time. If it is fogging up on you, just crack the bottom edge open to get the ventilation you need for the speed you're riding.

Windshield. Do you look over your windshield, or through it? If through it, I strongly suggest you trim it down so you can look over it. If you think that's a poor idea, go drive your car with the windshield wipers off.

The next part has to do with riding technique. The instructor at the Experienced Rider's Course said we have 85% of our dry traction in wet conditions. I'd say that is true with some caveats. The caveat is there are many things on the road besides pavement and every one of them reduces your traction tremendously. White painted lines between the lanes, at stop areas, at cross walks. Metal plates, like the kind they do road repairs with...or the innocuous manhole cover...strategically placed in the apex of a curve. Tar snakes. The oily center area in your lane at an intersection. Those are just the ones that come to mind quickly.

What I do, is take the mentality that I'll treat them as slick spots even in dry weather. As a commuter, I encounter the same ones daily, so I know where they are. I practice in the dry weather how to avoid them...and when it rains, I don't have to give them as much thought. I subconsciously avoid them and can turn my attention to the other things that need it.

I changed buildings where I work at a couple years ago. At the old building, the turn to the parking had two metal plates at the most appropriate lines you'd take for the turn. In the summer, you could get away with it. In the rain...no way. I had trained myself to miss them over hundreds of times pulling in there. Well, a couple weeks ago, I went over to that building for a staff meeting...and the habit saved me from dumping my 400.

Other things...notice where the drains have a tendency after a dry spell to get clogged from debris run off. Typically around here, leaves will clog some of the drains. You'll have a nice wet road, go around a corner, and find standing water. Catalog those in your mind if you're driving your car, and remember them for the ride. Likewise, those leaves will start falling in a month or two. If they get wet, they can be like oil on the road. Slick, and they could ruin your whole day.

Rain will reduce your visibility a lot...and it'll reduce the visibility of the car drivers around you. Imagine someone trying to peer through a windshield with a very old wiper blade that was destroyed in the summer heat. They can't see a thing. I noticed around here that the road turns dark gray in the rain. The cars are gray. The sky is gray. And the roadspray that joins the clouds to the road...is gray. So I did what I could to make myself visible...to them.

I wore a hi-vis safety vest when I had my "run me over" black TourMaster jacket. When I replaced it, I looked for a "don't hit me" hi-vis yellow jacket. If it wasn't hi-vis...I didn't look at it at all. I bought some reflective tape and as you can see from my avatar, it shows up on the bike. It needs no electrical power, so it is as easy to apply as pulling the tape backing off and putting it where it'll give a good reflection to the cars around me. Yet it shows up enough that even the person texting on their cell phone, will see it far enough away to take steps to avoid me. And besides the bike...I have it on the helmet as well.

I bought some of the reflective tape on eBay, but most of the pinstriping tape was purchased from Streetglo. Call them and mention you are a BurgmanUSA member, and they'll give you a discount. 10%, I think. Their tape comes in various colors, so you can choose to make the tape blend in, or be a contrasting color to look like factory pinstriping. I did nothing more than follow the vertical surface lines on the bike, and people who see it in the daytime, think it was done by the factory as a pinstriping job not realizing it is reflective.

Much is a mind set on your part too. If you tell yourself you will ride in any kind of weather except snow and ice, you'll do it. When you find something like I did in the early days where my hands and feet were cold, you figure out how to fix that. I can ride in temps from 16F to over 100F and be comfortable on a commute that lasts an hour or more at times. And when you can ride comfortably in the rain and cold, you extend your riding season by months. I can arrive at work, drier than the person who got soaked running in from the parking lot in their normal clothes. I ride because I have a passion for riding. I love it. And when you realize you can be comfortable doing it when everyone else parks their bikes...you are so incredibly free to enjoy...

Chris
 

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I live out here in SE Arizona where we have TORRENTIAL deluges almost on a daily basis for 3 months or so.

How do i do it? If it's raining, I don my rain suit and get on and ride. I've been riding my Burgman for 4+ years, but I've also ride my bicycle and often get caught in downpours.

You summed up your error in stating..."I made the mistake of hitting an unfamiliar curve a bit too fast."... You analyzed your error and hopefully have learned from it. Exactly WHAT is it you want to know? I've ridden in downpours out here at highway speeds where there's 6" of water on the roads. I canoe thru it and keep going. I am constantly aware of my surroundings and what could be ahead... I wear my rainsuit and keep going. I take great caution, ESPECIALLY on unfamiliar roads. I stay dry and alert. You cannot let yourself be intimidated by it, nor can you get complacent...you have to find that "in-between" space where you feel in command of your bike but not rattled. I've driven in blizzards, sandstorms, windstorms, thunderstorms, dead of night....you name it. Experience helps keep you on your toes. BUT, as you say, you've been riding for 20 YEARS are are NOW just experiencing this? Wow.

Just do it, and as I am apt to say, "Don't overthink it". You know enough to know what you did wrong. Don't repeat it.

Butterthebean said:
I've been riding for about 20 years, but always been a fair weather rider. I wanted to ride more but it's tough because here on the gulf coast it's likely to be sunny all day and then start storming right when I leave work. About 2 months ago I decided to quit worrying about it and start riding everyday. Well, it's been going great. I've got caught in a couple of showers and I did fine. I will admit to being slightly nervous, but I feel I overcame it well.

But then today I had a real bad ride home. It started raining hard on me half way home. Just after that I made the mistake of hitting an unfamiliar curve a bit too fast. I really thought I was gonna lose it. I barely managed not to go down, but it scared me. Not a minute later a truck came up and changed lanes right into me. I hit the white line and just narrowly avoided him.

After that I had to pull over. I was shaken. I really didn't want to ride home, but I had no choice. I eventually got back on the road and eased on home. I didn't feel good until I got back on a familiar road close to home.

My question is, how did you foul weather riders get comfortable riding in the rain? Will I eventually get more comfortable doing this, or is there something I need to be doing to help my riding comfort level? I know I made some mistakes today. I'm open to any suggestions because I really want to get comfortable with this.
 

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Daboo should get paid for some of his wonderful comprehensive articles!!!!!!!! Maybe be on a magazine staff,etc... Other memebers also offer excellent advice too!
 

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If it is a torrential downpour - Be smart and pull over....and wait....!!! As it may not be you who is at fault - but a CAGE driving past you and throwing up a wake into your path.... which can reult in hydroplaning...!! In a light rain - I just grin and bear it...!! Being extremely careful when cornering or making a sweeping turn as on most entry ramps to a highway. Also.........allow much more distance for stopping. I have NEVER started out in the rain - that is why God invented cars......!!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for some great tips fellas. I definitely need to get a high vis jacket and trim down my windshield just a bit.


Yes I've been riding a long time, but I've been avoiding riding in the rain at all costs. Until this year riding was always just weekend entertainment. But now I've moved out to the country, and I have a 100 mile round trip to work everyday and I want to commute on my burgman, rather than my 3/4 ton truck. So this is something I really want to get comfortable with. I think more time riding in wet conditions will help but your advice is also very helpful and reassuring.
 

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I ride in the rain and have since 1972. There are always times when the rain is a pain on a bike. Like when a semi passes you and spay goes every where or pot holes are hidden by the ponding water. I do try to stay off the highways during rain as much as I can and take shelter when lightning.
 

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First and foremost, get some type of full faced helmet.
I wear a modular helmet with a flip up shield which is good in case of fogging.

Secondly, it is pretty hard to hydroplane a motorcycle tire due to its round profile.
I've ridden in some pretty hairy rainstorms for hours at a time all over this country.
If you aren't prepared to ride in the rain, then you better add several additional days to any trip you may be planning.
Of course if you have a car tire on the rear, all bets are off.
 

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motorcycles tend to NOT hydroplane becquse the tires slice thru the water...the front pushes the water to the sides and the rear tire will not lose traction. do a search for the very in-depth hydroplaning discussion from a couple of years ago. as sor road splash...i have been splashed by the best of them with no problems...clearview xxl does a good job protecting me. in the last huge one i rode thru, for 20 miles i was the only vehicle out there on AZ 90 between Benson and Sierra Vista....water was pretty deep on road but I sliced right thru it at 65 mph...





v8eyedoc said:
If it is a torrential downpour - Be smart and pull over....and wait....!!! As it may not be you who is at fault - but a CAGE driving past you and throwing up a wake into your path.... which can reult in hydroplaning...!! In a light rain - I just grin and bear it...!! Being extremely careful when cornering or making a sweeping turn as on most entry ramps to a highway. Also.........allow much more distance for stopping. I have NEVER started out in the rain - that is why God invented cars......!!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
bigfoot said:
First and foremost, get some type of full faced helmet.
I wear a modular helmet with a flip up shield which is good in case of fogging.

Secondly, it is pretty hard to hydroplane a motorcycle tire due to its round profile.
I've ridden in some pretty hairy rainstorms for hours at a time all over this country.
If you aren't prepared to ride in the rain, then you better add several additional days to any trip you may be planning.
Of course if you have a car tire on the rear, all bets are off.
Not to start a car tire debate, but by that do you mean the car tire will hydroplane on a motorcycle?
 

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I would think because it's flat but the front tire will still clear a path.

•••

I don't mind rain and the Burgman surely the best coverage. I only pull over if the first burst of a storm is violent as the squall hits.
I do worry about visibility and the bright yellow Icon jacket is fully waterproof. I found myself at late dusk on a grey bike with a black jacket and black helmet in rain and fog - I was effectively invisible.....went out the next day and got the Icon.
It packs down well into it's hood and is waterproof if sealed properly.
I wear it over my mesh jacket for extra warmth and viz as I often am out late and in the fall can get chilly when the sun goes down. Serves two purposes.

I use a Mag8 helmet and there is never a fog issue with the 3/4 and I have clear safety glasses or sun glasses underneath - I flip the visor down at first sign of rain ( I usually ride with it up ). Yellowish tint sunglasses can provide a bit of extra vision in rain.
The visor can get misted so being able to flip it up still allows me to see with the glasses.

I use the same technique in Australia but with a convertable - it's hard to get the mist to evaporate because the humidity is so high so having the glasses helps but they will mist as well if you are not careful.
Bit of a balancing act when there is misty rain and that can come of trucks and cars and sometimes it's oily from the road so staying out of the spray especially from trucks is a smart move if you can.

The other issue with rain is to be careful just as it starts as near intersections where there is an oil build up can be a skating rink ( the painted lines as well but they are always slippy in wet and sometimes in dry depending on the paint. )

Front edges of storm cells can be dangerous with horizontal wind and perhaps hail so a safe spot pull over until you figure out the nature of the beast is worth while.
Steady non storm rain is really not an issue tho not so much fun.

It gets comfortable with experience. Not sealing the jacket tho can lead to rather soggy experiences....been there done that. :roll:
 

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I found this interesting aricle written by someone who appears to know what they are talking about:


Of course the word 'fast' is a relative term. Tread design, tread depth, weight of motorcycle, tire pressure, depth of water and even the consistency of the water (whether it is highly aerated or not) all play a part in determining at what speed the tire will begin to hydroplane. It is a pretty safe bet to assume that any speed in excess of 60 MPH is fast enough to support hydroplaning regardless of the other variables. This is not to say that at 55 MPH you are safe. A formula that comes close to predicting the speed at which you will hydroplane, assuming at least 0.2" of water is on the ground, is: (10.27 x the sq. rt. of the tire pressure), which shows that if your tires hold 35 psi, hydroplaning can be expected at 60.76 MPH. Tires with 41 psi of air in them should expect hydroplaning at about 65.75 MPH. Another formula that is somewhat more accurate, though much harder to calculate, is: (7.95 x the sq. rt. of the tire pressure x contact patch width divided by the contact patch length). This formula shows that the wider the contact patch is relative to its length, the higher the speed required to support hydroplaning. I bring this to your attention because it is contrary to my understanding that a wider tire is more susceptible to hydroplaning than is a narrower tire, yet this particular formula seems to yield a closer approximation of the threshold hydroplaning speed.
 

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Say what? :D What he said ^ +1. :thumbup: :thumbup:
 

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The big difference in Hydroplaning in a car and a bike is on a car when one side starts to slip it slows down, the other side has grip and speeds up causing a slide. When a bike hydroplanes in a straight line, there is not any drag outward so the bike just slows down. But in a corner the bike can slide out. It takes one heck of amount of skill to control a slide and 99% of us will crash. The best skill to master is NOT getting in that position. Don't over ride your skill level.
 

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Dave_J said:
Say what? :D What he said ^ +1. :thumbup: :thumbup:
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...!!!!!!!! Hey!!!!! I was just quoting the article!!! THAT does not mean that I understand it..... :lol: :lol:
 

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I think it all depends on the tire design too. The motorcycle tire with its rounded profile seems to push through the water to the pavement better than a flat car tire. So I'm thinking that while the calculations you quoted are probably correct on a car tire, I'm not sure you can directly apply them to a motorcycle tire. I also wonder what the effect is of the directional tire treads on car tires that are designed to disperse water.

Have you noticed that almost every tire for our scooters has a center tread for the front wheel...but a slick area for the rear?

Chris
 

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The advice above is great .. (rain gear, pulling over, visibility etc, hydroplanning or not)

I can ride in the rain, but tend to tense up .. a buddy told me one thing (30+yrs experience) to help me overcome my nervousness in rain riding.

"Trust and have faith in your bike .. it will grip the road, it will stop, you won't fall. With that fear or concern removed - reduce your speed, ride in your comfort/skill zone, and rely on your training on lane positioning, being visible, avoid the lines, careful at intersections, be in control, take the corners a bit slower (ie. no scraping pegs in the rain)" - Ride your ride.

I found when I trust my bike .. it relaxes me to ride for the conditions and not over tense... something I don't think about in dry conditions

"Trust the bike ... luke"

my 2 cents anyways.
 
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