This past weekend, Hurricane Arthur hit the east coast, bringing torrential rains from North Carolina to Maine.
This got us thinking about the special challenges of riding on rainy days in summer.
Most riders avoid the rain, others learn how to deal with it. But sometimes you can’t avoid it, whether commuting or taking in a scenic cruise.
If you ride long and often enough, sooner or later, you’ll be caught in a sun shower or full-out downpour.
You can try to wait it out. However, with the right gear, special attention to road conditions and your surroundings, and a relaxed attitude, you can be more confident while riding in the rain.
Some of the following tips will help you stay prepared for rain and let you know what to avoid and what to look for.
- A full-face helmet is your best bet, because at speeds of 30 mph or above, raindrops will sting your face, ears and head like a thousand hornets.
- Keep a rain suit on board at all times, preferably one in a highly visible color. While even lightweight suits are waterproof, heavy rain and windy conditions may blow some water into a high collar, loose sleeve or pants cuff.
- Invest in a good set of waterproof motorcycle gloves. This time of year, look for waterproof gloves that are lightweight enough for summer riding.
What makes them waterproof? They are specially designed with an insert stitched between the outer layer and the inner lining. The seams are sealed, creating a barrier against water coming at you from all angles. These gloves are breathable and comfortable while being water- and wind-proof.
Note: In our experience you really do get what you pay for with waterproof gear. A premium barrier like Gore-tex® and its equivalents may cost more, but they really do keep you dry and let your hands breathe.
- Before setting off on a long trip, test your gear with a short ride in the rain. This test run will give you a chance to work out any issues before hitting the road.
Watch The Road
- Pavement can be extremely slippery in the rain. White dividing or shoulder lines on the roads are dangerously slick; any manhole covers, railroad tracks or metal road plates are as slippery as little ice rinks. Keep sharp and avoid all of the above.
- Avoid the urge to blast through a puddle. It may look like fun, but water, especially on blacktop, hides what lurks below. What looks like a shallow bit of splashy fun can actually be a foot-deep pothole. Don’t find out the difference the hard way.
- Colored rainbows on the road surface are pretty, but can be deadly. Oil looks cool when wet, but it’s even slicker than on dry pavement. It can be even worse if the rain hits after several days of hot, dry weather — a special danger in summer — because the oil can be hidden under dirt blown onto the road.
- When you need to brake in the rain, always apply more rear brake than normal. It’s easier to correct your rear wheel if you start sliding. Use the brakes as gently as possible. And … you will appreciate the grip of a good rain tire.
Riding In The Rain: Our Final Advice
Above all, try to relax while riding on rainy days. Being confronted with a sudden rainstorm while on your bike can be frightening. But with the right preparations, instead of cursing the rain … who knows, you may end up singing in the rain!
Keep cool and ride safe this summer!