Alright, so while the rainy season isn’t the most comforting or convenient to ride, it most definitely rewards the willing rider with some of the most breathtaking views and an unmatched, challenging experience. With the advent of the monsoon, the nature is at its spectacular best and those who are adventurous enough to venture out in the rain are rewarded with stunning views of water bodies brimming with water, lush green landscapes and a cool, refreshing experience. So while we do agree that riding in the rains may be inconvenient, challenging, even hazardous in some cases – it is equally exciting and satisfying if done right. In this article, we list down ten tips, which will prepare you to ride in the rains safely, and with a lot more confidence.
1. Get a grip
The absolute first thing that you need to check is the tyre tread of your two-wheeler. The tyres on your motorcycle should be in top shape if you’re going to venture out on wet roads, which offer little traction. It’s something that you need to be mindful of not only when it rains, but in general as well. So when you buy those tyres for your motorcycle, make sure they come from a reputed brand, and are known to offer acceptable grip levels in both dry and wet conditions. If your bike’s tyres have anything less than 1mm of tread depth, you should either replace the tyres, or stay home in the rains.
2. Get geared
If you plan to set out for a long-ish ride in the rains, make sure that your riding gear is suitable for wet weather riding, or you’ll get very uncomfortable, very quickly. The helmet should be designed and built well enough to not let the rain inside. An anti-fog visor would help by keeping things clear and ensuring good visibility. A clear water-repellent coating for the visor, available as a liquid solution is also quite useful in enhancing visibility. Once that most important aspect is taken care of, make sure that your jacket, gloves, riding pants and boots can resist water to a good extent.
3. Don’t wade through water that looks deep
If you can’t see the bottom of it, be extremely cautious while wading through it. It may be an innocuous looking puddle, but you cannot just be too careful with muddy water in the rain. Make a fast, careless entry into a puddle, and if it has a deep pothole underneath, you’d land on mother earth in no time, followed by a horizontal trip to the hospital. If you must cross through water, though, observe other vehicles passing through it, and follow a path which appears safe after thorough observation.
4. Keep it slow
No matter how skilled a rider you are, riding in the rains calls for extreme caution. The perils are just too many. In addition to the incomparably low traction at hand, you have slippery mud, diesel and oil rising above the water’s surface, hidden potholes and reduced visibility working against you. So make sure that you ride with extreme caution and keep ample buffer for any surprises that may emerge out of nowhere. Ride at a much slower pace than you do in dry conditions. Putting your ego aside while riding in the wet is a very, very effective safety measure.
5. Don’t grab a handful
As with most things associated with riding in the wet, you have to make sure that you are cautious and gentle with the brakes. Riding slow is a good way to mitigate emergencies that require you to come to a screeching halt. However, even while riding at slow to moderate speeds, if you are required to decelerate hard, try modulating the brake lever to bring the bike to a halt in a progressive manner. Grabbing a fistful of the brake lever might just make the front wash out.
6. Find a dry line
As the rain recedes, on the otherwise wet road, emerges a somewhat grey, partly dry line. This typically is the line that most of the vehicles ahead of you have followed, and generally is safer than the wet parts on the road to tread. Trying to find such dry patches and following them cautiously can help you get a bit more traction and avoid any unwelcome surprises.
7. Being smooth is the key
While it’s always advisable to keep your riding style very fluid and smooth, it pays especially well in the rains if you adopt a very smooth riding style. Be it your throttle inputs, gear-shifts, braking or lean-ins, make sure that you are very fluid and progressive with your actions. At all costs, avoid any abrupt movements like suddenly cracking open the throttle, dropping down two gears in a hurry, leaning in too aggressively or braking too hard. Apart from making the motorcycle keep good balance, this also allows the rider to know if something is giving way, and makes bringing things back in control easier.
8. Let there be light
Low visibility is one of the biggest hazards during wet weather, and for that reason all the illumination points on your motorcycle should be in top shape. The headlamp, along with front and rear blinkers should be working faultlessly. It’s good to have a hazard light system on your two-wheeler, though if the manufacturer doesn’t provide it as a stock fitment you can have it installed from the aftermarket. It’s generally a very simple set-up, though you should be wary of how it affects your vehicle’s warranty. Make sure that the electric system on the bike works fine, and carry a basic tool kit along with some fuses and spare bulbs along, just to be sure.
9. Look out for trouble
Trouble comes in spades as the water pours down from the heavens above, so look out, and you’ll often find it crouching, waiting to pounce on you. You have to spot it, every single time though. It doesn’t announce its arrival, though there are places where it can be spotted camouflaged, when looked closely. Our experience tells us that you should look out for that rainbow like reflection on the road, which is often the super-slick oil, and avoid it at all costs. Also, surfaces which are generally harmless in dry conditions, like white paint markings, cat’s eyes or concrete surfaces may have much less grip than usual. Make sure that you either avoid these surfaces, or make a very cautious switchover whenever moving over from tar on to them.
10. Know when to stop
It’s a challenge worth enjoying as long as it’s not turning outright dangerous. If it starts pouring to an extent where it completely smudges your visor, blocking your vision, by all means, find a shelter, stop, and wait until things get better. More than our advice, it’s about your own judgement. Country roads, away from the city might get very dangerous very quickly when it starts pouring. You should know when it’s time to turn back, to stop, or to simply find the nearest hotel, call it a day and wait for things to get better. The bottom line is, don’t push your luck too hard, and make a sensible decision as things start looking ominous.
Riding in the rains has an unmatched charm to it. It is, however, paramount to stay safe while enjoying that wet ride. We really hope that these tips go some way in ensuring that you are safe and more confident on the road when you undertake your next wet weather ride. If you think that the information shared through this article was useful, do share it with your loved ones who would be able to ride more safely using these tips. Do share some safety tips of your own with us through the comments section below. Do tag us on any of the social networks if you have to say anything at all – we love hearing from you!