By: KGD Law
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How to Ride Your Motorcycle in the Rain
They don’t call it the Sunshine State for nothing. With its warm weather year-round and scenic highways that stretch for miles, Florida is a dream location for any motorcycle enthusiast. However, those famously sunny days are often broken up by rainstorms, and even if they are brief, these can cause a problem for motorcyclists.
This doesn’t mean you can’t ride your bike any time it is raining. On the contrary, knowing how to ride safely in the rain can prepare you to ride in inclement weather anywhere. Wet riding conditions create obstacles for riders such as reduced traction, decreased visibility, and lightning.
Weather-related accidents are a major cause of motorcycle injuries and fatalities, so make sure you are prepared for rainy conditions and follow the tips below.
Dress for Success (and the Weather!)
Most motorcyclists already know that wearing the right gear is key for a comfortable and safe ride. Your gear choices matter that much more in rainy weather. Getting soaked to the bone on your way to the store or to meet up with friends is not most people’s idea of starting the day off right.
In the summer, getting caught in a shower may be more inconvenient than anything. However, in the winter, when temperatures drop a bit, the cold rain actually poses quite a threat. Cold riding is dangerous riding. Without the proper gear in cold, wet conditions, you could end up becoming mildly hypothermic if you can’t dry off.
If you get too cold while riding, your brain and nervous system functioning can be impacted. To avoid this, be sure to carry a spare rain suit on your bike at all times for surprise downpours. Choose bright, reflective colors to combat the decreased visibility in rainy conditions. Try to also pack a hand towel and an extra pair of gloves for if you have to take yours off.
Whether you are wearing a full-face helmet or googles, make sure your shield or lenses are anti-fog. You do not want to get caught cruising down the highway and suddenly find yourself unable to see. If you find water droplets are building up on the outside of your shield, wipe them away with your glove periodically or quickly turn your head at higher speeds. You can also buy treatments to apply that will help repel rain and fog.
Keep Up with Bike Maintenance
Treat your bike as if it could rain any time you go for a ride – in fact, these are good daily maintenance tips for riding in any conditions. Check your tires each time you take your bike out. If your tires are low on air or the tread is too worn, you are much more likely to slide and spin out in the rain. Tires also take a little longer to warm up in the rain, so if needed, prep them with some stop-and-go riding to heat them up.
Braking is harder on wet roads, so make sure your brake pads are enough life left in them. Check your parking spot for any leaks of oil or brake fluid. While this may be an issue you’ve been putting off if it is minor, leaking fluids mix with wet roads to create a slippery driving hazard.
Make sure your bike chain is properly tightened. If the chain is too loose, the slack can transfer power to the rear wheel too quickly. This can cause issues with your traction, especially when turning a corner.
Ride Smoothly and Slowly
Motorcycle safety has improved over the years, with feature like better tires and anti-lock brakes (ABS) that improve traction. But whether your bike is older or the latest model, you still need to practice caution in the rain. Sudden changes can throw off your traction, so make smooth, incremental throttle adjustments when accelerating. Use less of a lean angle when steering.
Brake gradually to prevent them from locking up or ABS from taking over. You want to avoid hydroplaning whenever possible. If you do suddenly need to brake hard, try to brake progressively by slowly squeezing the lever to load your front tire and compress the suspension. Increase your force bit by bit until your bike has slowed, which will keep the chassis stable during quick braking.
Knowing you’ll need more time to brake in slippery conditions, you should always leave extra room between you and the car in front of you when it is raining. By riding slower, this means you will have more reaction time to hazards in the road or erratic cars.
Going slower is a good best practice for making turns too. Trying to make last minute turns in dry weather is already dangerous, but in the midst of a storm, this move could be fatal. Use your mirrors, and if you are going to miss a turn, don’t force it. Leave early so you don’t feel time pressure to speed to your destination.
Ride on a Dry Line
If you are newer to riding motorcycles, here is a handy trick that uses the other vehicles around you to your advantage. The wheels of a car or truck push water away from their tire tracks for a moment. The road stays briefly dry until the rain covers it again. As a two-wheeled vehicle, you have the option to follow along in that dry tire track left behind.
Dry pavement is always going to be the best option for traction in wet conditions, so if there is a dry section, try to follow it. Pacing the car may also be a helpful technique for staying on the road in reduced visibility. By following the dry tracks of another vehicle, you will have more traction for turns, and the car’s brake lights will help you see and indicate when you should slow down. Remember to still leave ample space between you and the preceding vehicle.
If you come across a puddle while following a dry line, you should avoid it, rather than stay on the track. You can’t know how deep the puddle is or what lies at the bottom. That standing water could be masking a large pothole or tire-shredding debris. If you can’t avoid a puddle, do not brake and continue to hold your throttle steady.
Similarly, you should avoid driving over any shiny surfaces. When hugging your dry line, try not to get too close to the painted lines on the road, and avoid riding over any manholes or metal plates. These behave like black ice when wet and become quite slippery.
Riding a motorcycle comes with added responsibility. With the above advice, you will be better equipped to handle difficult riding conditions and will be prepared for any surprise rainstorms that come your way.
Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent an accident, even if you follow all the safety guidelines. You can only control your actions while riding, but not what the vehicles around you choose to do. Sometimes you just can’t avoid a reckless driver.
If you were the victim of a motorcycle accident and are wondering what kind of compensation you may be entitled to, it is advisable to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz to discuss your case with no obligations. We can put you in touch directly with an attorney.