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Generally, nobody wants to end up riding their motorcycle through a heavy storm but weather is unpredictable and every rider should be prepared to handle the rain. Inexperienced motorcycle riders tend to fear the rain and the loss of traction that comes with it. While wet pavement is slick, motorcycle tires are designed to maintain traction with the road even when wet so with a few techniques a rider should have little trouble riding their motorcycle in the rain.

  • Avoid all sudden moves – strong changes in speed or direction can cause the motorcycle to skid.
    • Accelerate smoothly
    • Change gears smoothly
    • Turn smoothly
    • Use both brakes gradually when stopping
  • Reduce speed to allow more time for braking.
  • Maintain a larger space cushion in traffic to allow more time to react
  • Take turns slower to minimize the lean of the motorcycle.
  • Avoid hydroplaning while riding the motorcycle by riding in the tire tracks of other vehicles
  • Be careful when putting your foot down at stops. Your feet will have less traction in the rain than your motorcycle.
  • If possible, avoid riding your motorcycle in the first 30-60 minutes of the rainstorm. Water mixes with dirt on the road and flushes out oil on the road making it even more slippery.
  • Warn pavement on high traffic roads can lead to depression in the asphalt. Water will build up in those depressions and increase the risk of hydroplaning.
  • Wear proper motorcycle rain gear. Staying dry and warm will help a rider focus their attention on controlling their vehicle instead of thinking about their discomfort.
  • As water accumulates on your motorcycle helmet visor, alternate turning your head from the right to the left (while keeping your eyes forward). This will allow the force of the wind to blow the rain drops off our of your field of vision.

Some areas are extra slippery when riding a motorcycle in the rain. Treat them with caution and avoid them when possible:

  • Metal covers/plates & manhole covers
  • Bridge grates
  • Train tracks
  • Painted lines/lane markings (crosswalks, HOV lanes)
  • Leaves
  • Wood (like some old covered bridges)
  • Potholes (they look like puddles but you can’t judge the depth)

There are some other surfaces that can be slippery for motorcycles even when the weather is nice. Avoidance is best but using techniques similar to riding in the rain should keep your motorcycle shiny side up if you cannot avoid them.

  • Sand, gravel, rocks (they tend to collect on sides of road, esp. on curves & ramps leading to & from highway)
  • Trash
  • Fuel, oil, coolant
  • Crack sealant & tar (esp. in hot weather)
  • Ice/snow (esp in low, shaded areas and on bridges & overpasses)
  • Mud, moss, algae

Note: Many of these tips also apply to riding on fresh cut grass or fallen leaves that have accumulated on the road.

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