Riding Motorcycles in the Rain

Motorcyclist riding in the rain

When I first started riding motorcycles, I was a fair-weather rider.  At the first sign of rain, I would pull over, wait for the rain to subside, and then head home.  And, if a ride was scheduled with friends, it would be canceled at the first sight of darkening clouds.

Today, my opportunities to ride have decreased as my work and family commitments have increased.  As a result, I am less likely to cancel a ride due to rainy weather.  In fact, I find that being prepared for rain makes riding in the rain a whole lot less stressful and, at times, even enjoyable.  Now, a veteran rain rider (if you have ever attended Bike week in NH you know what I’m talking about), I pass along a few tips that I have discovered.  To be sure, I am no expert on the subject of riding a motorcycle in the rain.  The pros have much more to say on the subject.  I pass along my own observations as a veteran NH motorcycle rider who has spent much time riding in the rain and as a motorcycle accident attorney that has represented many clients involved in accidents.  Ride safely!

  • Tip #1: Buy Rain Gear: Modern-day rain gear does a fantastic job of keeping rides dry while keeping them highly visible to other motorists.  A high-quality rain suit (you get what you pay for) and waterproof boots are worth their weight in gold.  Add to that waterproof gloves and a good helmet, and you are on your way to a less stressful and more enjoyable riding experience.
  • Tip #2: The first 15 minutes are the slickest: When the rain begins to fall, oil and motor vehicle fluid shine on the surface of the road.  It is, literally, an oil slick.  The experts say the first 15 minutes of rain create the slickest roadway conditions.  So, for the first 15 minutes of rain, pull over.  Don’t risk getting hurt.  Instead, find a safe spot to stop your bike, pull over, and put on your rain gear.  By the time you are ready to head back out on the road, many of the grease and oil deposits will have been washed off the road.
  • Tip #3: Slow Down & Watch Out for Slick Surfaces: It’s simple. Slow down when the rain starts. Allow yourself to acclimate to the change in weather.  Rain is water, water is wet, and wet surfaces are slippery. Your brakes won’t have the same stopping power on a wet surface, so allow more time to react by traveling at a slower speed.  Besides, it’s easier to navigate a tricky roadway at 20 mph than at 50 mph.  What do I mean?  In the rain, it’s harder to stop or turn on anything metal (like train tracks, manhole covers, or metal grates on bridges) and on anything painted (like lane lines or turn arrows) than on plain, dry asphalt.
  • Tip #4:  Use a full-face helmet, or buy a detachable face shield: Anyone who has ridden on the highway without a helmet, in the rain, knows that rain drops hurt!  Even worse than the pain, the reduced visibility caused by the rain can be treacherous.  And, sunglasses don’t cut it.  A good full-face shield helmet does a much better job of clearing your field of vision.

Thanks for reading this and ride safely!

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