This author was just caught in a huge storm yesterday. Small trees were uprooted, rain came in sideways, his bike was almost blowed across three lanes on the highway...
There are only two possible weather pattern each day here in Malaysia: Hot or rain. In fact, there is always a 60% chance of rain on a daily basis. As such, we would leave the house under the hot, sweltering sun only to have the clouds open up on us mere kilometres away.
So, do as we do, be always prepared for rain whenever we ride.
1. Start with the tyres
Make sure your tyres are in good condition and with the correct inflation pressure.
Worn tyres or tyres with insufficient grooves cannot evacuate water quickly enough and will be prone to aquaplaning.
Low inflation pressure will spread out the tyre's contact patch but too low will also hold a thick film of water and cause aquaplaning. Too much inflation pressure will result in a small footprint and lack of grip. So, this is why you should adhere to the recommended tyre pressures!
2. Bright-coloured gear saves lives
Wearing bright is important whenever we ride, what more when it rains. If drivers already struggle to see us during good weather, it is even more difficult when it is raining cats and dogs. Make sure you have a brightly coloured rain gear such as this Alpinestars Hurricane Rain Suit. Being dry also keeps you concentrating on the road, instead of being miserable.
3. Stop in a safe place
If the rain is too intense to continue riding, pick a safe place to stop. The safest is place at a petrol station because there is no traffic blasting by. However, they may be too far away, so an overhead bridge is the obvious choice sought by many. We do not recommend doing so, but in all reality, there may be no further choice. However, do so intelligently: Park your motorcycle safety and go wait behind the barrier.
4. Slow down
But do not go too slow because the tyres need some speed to remove the water from underneath their tread. Besides that, speed increases the gyroscopic forces provided by the moving wheels. Ride too slowly and you will feel like the bike is trying to plop over onto its side.
5. Keep it smooth
Being smooth means do not take abrupt actions. Instead, brake, accelerate and turn smoothly. Do this and you will feel the tyres having more traction that you ever thought.
6. One control at a time
As with being smooth, perform one control input at a time. That means no trail braking (braking while turning) or downshifting aggressively while braking. The objective here is to allow the chassis and tyres to fully utilize the available traction – which is not a lot in the rain.
7. Keep your body loose
Riding relaxed has many benefits and is one of the essential ingredients to a great handling bike. That is because being relaxed allows the motorcycle to perform its duties. Fighting it is fighting against the machine’s dynamics. So, maintain a loose grip on the handlebar, and loosen up the wrists, elbows, shoulders and back.
8. How to ride through puddles or deep water
We published an article highlighting the tips of riding through floods recently. To recap: Puddles and deep water should be avoided as much as possible because we do not know what is lurking beneath. However, if you do need to ride through, do so at a constant speed but SLOWLY. Keep the bow wave off the front wheel at axle height. Splashing through may seem fun but it is also to lose control if the front wheel dropped into a hole or hits a hazard. Please follow this link for the full article: https://gomoto.com.my/blogs/articles/riding-tips-if-caught-in-a-flash-flood
9. Keep your vision clear
The helmet’s visor (faceshield) keeps us safe from debris, but it tends to fog when it rains. Luckily, all Shoei helmets (apart from the J.O) can be fitted with Pinlock anti-fog inserts. The insert has a membrane that absorbs moisture, keeping the visor clear. However, the keyword here is moisture, not water. So, keep the visor closed even when you stop for example at the traffic lights. It may get stuffy in the helmet, but it avoids water from running in between the visor and Pinlock.
We published an article on the correct usage of the Pinlock insert. Please click on this link for the full details: https://gomoto.com.my/blogs/articles/tips-for-using-visor-anti-fog-inserts
10. Keep your gloves on
Best to keep your gloves on. Yes, they get wet but you can maintain a good grip on the handlebar, besides having the gloves protect your hands from debris or a tumble. You can also wear latex or nitrile gloves first before pulling on your riding gloves. Summer gloves dry fastest but may be still damp from yesterday’s rainstorm so, have several pairs ready. Do not dry your gloves (especially leather ones) in direct sunlight. Instead, hang them up to air dry.