Posted by Gomoto Media



The weather seems to be getting hotter during this writing, but there are still days when the skies open up unexpectedly, leading to flash floods.

The safest way to negotiate a flood is to avoid riding through it altogether, but it is doable with some due care is required, rather than charging in like a kid at the swimming pool!

1. Observe

Credit: Malay Mail

Best is to stop and look, but you can slow down and search for clues. See the water thrown up by other vehicles and you should be able to guesstimate its depth. DO NOT cross if there is a strong current.

How deep is too deep? Generally, motorcycles with 17-inch to 21-inch front wheels can have the water level come up safely to half the wheel i.e. axle height.

It is also great to find out the exact location of your bike's airbox and its intake tracts. Most airboxes are below the fuel tank, but the intake tract could be just above the radiator. Dirt bikes usually locate their airboxes and filter under the seat.

2. Go Slow and Straight

Slow down and do not let the water splash high up. Hitting a deep body of water at speed would most likely have the water act as a liquid brake/barrier. The bike will cut through the first few metres easily before coming to a sudden halt and causing the rider to lose control.

Keep your speed as low as possible and steady to keep the water’s bow wake below the height of the engine’s air intake - it is a motorcycle, not a jetski.

Stay off the sides of the road due as they are lower than the middle of the lane/road.

3. Keep Moving

Maintain a steady throttle and speed in the gear you are in right now, even if you should feel a tyre or tyres kicking loose when contacting something in the water. In fact, you should open the throttle a bit more if that happens.

Roll off the throttle smoothly if you need to slow down more and stay off the brakes.

Keeping the bike in motion and engine revs up lets the exhaust gasses push outwards. Chopping the throttle or stopping abruptly may have water being sucked up the exhaust instead. 

4. Exiting the flood

Exit the flood smoothly and do not slam open the throttle. Doing it smoothly allows water to drain away. Conversely, gunning the throttle may suck in water in the airbox into the engine!

Additionally, pull in the brakes slightly while the bike is moving to clean the discs and pads.

5. Shut it off!

Never say never because there may be a chance of dropping the bike into the water due to hitting an unseen obstacle or a sudden pothole.

You should make an effort to stop the engine as soon as possible.

The internal combustion engine is an air pump which sucks in air, adds fuel to it, compresses the mixture and burns it. Water, on the other hand, is incompressible and non-combustible (suprise!), and therefore has the potential of causing catastrophic engine damage.

Do not attempt to start a motorcycle that has been lying underwater.

Check the oil level window for signs of water in the crankcase and drain the oil if there is. Next, remove the airbox cover and check to see if there is water in it.

Also, remove the spark plugs and check for wetness. If there is, do not reinstall the spark plugs, but turn on the ignition and hit the starter button a few times. Reinstall only when it’s sufficiently dry.


There it is, simple. The key here is to ride carefully through deep water or flood and you will be able to emerge unscathed on the other side.

Bonus tip: Remember to hose off the motorcycle and yourself when you reach home because flood waters is a nasty concoction of waterborne diseases.