Riding in the Rain - A Beginners Guide
For a lot of beginner riders, riding in the rain can be a pretty daunting task, especially if you've just passed your CBT and to be honest even the most seasoned rider, heading out in the rain definitely seems unappealing.
That being said, you can't live in the UK and be worried about riding in the rain, or else you'd only ever be out for a few months of the year. Plus there's nothing quite like getting out on a crisp Autumn morning and going for a ride. All you need is a little bit of practice, remember what you learnt in your motorcycle training and take these tips to be more confident!
Do You Have the Right Gear for the Conditions?
This is something you get explained in your CBT training. It seems obvious but learning the right gear to wear is something that shouldn’t be kept to the motorcycle training whiteboard. Your comfort and warmth are absolutely essential if you want to be safe and alert when riding.
Layering up is key, some moisture-wicking base layers are always a great idea. This matched with a waterproof rainsuit is an absolute winner. Make sure your hands and feet are well covered and protected too, a decent pair of winter gloves and waterproof boots will go a long way to making your ride more comfortable.
Riding in the winter or the rain is often coupled with the dark which means visibility is poor... It’s so important you have the correct helmet for the wet weather. You should make sure you have an anti-fog visor equipped. It’s all good being warm and cosy, but if you can’t see, you’re in trouble...
Pick Your Lines
If you find the rain eases off, you should look for dry lines on the road. This is usually in the tyre lines of other vehicles as their tyres will help disperse the surface water on the road. This is where you want to aim to put your wheels. This will help give you a little more traction and avoid kicking up too much muck or dirt as you ride.
Be Aware Of Hazardous Road Surfaces
You should always be taking extra care to take note of the road surface when riding in the rain. If it is a ligt rain then a lot of muck can be lifted out of the road surface and will now lie on the top of the tarmac. Fuel and Oil spillages often find their way to the surface, take extra care on roundabouts or junctions where traffic may be likely to be at a standstill for periods of time. This is will be extra slippy so take caution.
TOP TIP: Look out for any shimmering/multicolour patches - This will often be oil or fuel and you want to avoid riding over it at all times
Stay clear of manhole covers, painted lines and cats eyes as these will always be very slippy in the rain.
As you head into winter, the nights come a little earlier and can often reduce visibility considerably so slow your riding up a little and take care to give yourself more time to assess the road surface and increase your reaction time where possible.
These things aren’t disastrous or hidden death traps, just keep calm and try not to panic if you hit things like this. It’s just an extra precaution worth consideration.
You need to make extra effort to remember and implement everything you learnt in your CBT motorcycle training. Riding a bike in the wet doesn’t require a lot more skill, it just means you can't let yourself get away with bad habits. Stay textbook!
The word “smooth-riding” is thrown about a lot when talking about motorcycling in the rain. This basically means ensure all your movements - accelerating, braking, changing gear, changing lanes etc - are as smooth and calculated as possible. Don't make any sharp movements that will unsettle your motorcycle and put yourself at risk. Leave yourself more room between cars to increase your braking distance.
It’s also important to try and keep your bike more upright in wet conditions. Don’t lean quite as much into corners. Again, smoothly ease into them by leaving more distance to decelerate. Utilizing your rear brake a little can help to avoid putting too much pressure on the front, increasing grip and making the bike more stable.
Having a CBT licence doesn't mean you can't ride your motorcycle with confidence!
A common error when riding in the rain is forgetting to relax. If you’re completely rigid and not flowing in and out of turns, you’re more susceptible to slipping. You don’t have to use a closed throttle when cornering. In fact, we would advise against it. Generating some force will help your grip. Just make sure you’ve gently slowed down going into the turn.
Stopping and starting will also warm up your tyres. This doesn’t mean testing your 0-60. But just have the confidence to come to a stop and then push off again to warm up your tyres. Having warm tyres is a massive plus. Training yourself to do this is very important. But remember that it will take them longer to warm up in the wet than in the dry.
You don’t need to be an expert motorcycle rider to enjoy riding your motorbike in the rain. Having a CBT licence and the basic CBT training is enough to be confident.
If you're still considering getting a CBT have a look at getting set up here! Just remember to relax and enjoy it, you’ll also find you’ll become a far better rider if you perfect riding in the rain. Don’t lock away your bike, roll it out of your garage, slap on your Ls and get stuck in!