Swing in the rain

Rid­ing well in the wet can im­prove your over­all abil­ity

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Riding - Adam Child MCN Se­nior Road Tester and year-round com­muter from York­shire

The lat­est sports tour­ing rub­ber of­fers in­cred­i­ble wet weather grip, but I of­ten won­der whether it helps to be a bit ob­ses­sive about rid­ing a bike. Ob­ses­sive peo­ple think about ev­ery de­tail, and test the small­est lit­tle things to see if they make an im­prove­ment. Nowhere is that mind­set more use­ful than when it’s pour­ing with rain.

The crit­i­cal prob­lem with rain rid­ing isn’t tyre grip or smooth throt­tle re­sponse. It’s be­ing able to see where you’re go­ing, and con­cen­trate. Be­ing daz­zled by on­com­ing traf­fic in the dark, or mak­ing a poorly-timed over­take be­cause you’re freez­ing your tail off – th­ese things are far more prob­lem­atic than a slip­pery road.

Three wet rid­ing es­sen­tials:

1. A hel­met that doesn’t mist up 2. Fa­nat­i­cal vi­sor main­te­nance 3. A good-fit­ting, ef­fec­tive over­suit.

A fogged vi­sor is a night­mare, but there’s no real ex­cuse for it th­ese days be­cause many hel­mets come ready to take a Pin­lock insert. Th­ese dou­ble glaz­ing for your vi­sor sys­tems do a tremen­dous job at keep­ing your vi­sion clear.

For best vi­sion, use vi­sor pol­ish on the out­side to en­cour­age the rain drops to skid off, and if at all pos­si­ble keep the vi­sor shut to pre­vent drops get­ting onto the in­side.

Keep it smooth

If you’re new to rid­ing in the rain, watch a wet Motogp race. It’s a master­class in smooth­ness, and so easy to un­der­stand. They’re rid­ing like that to pre­vent any sud­den loads from dis­rupt­ing the tyre grip. We road rid­ers aren’t go­ing to the limit, but the goal of smooth­ness is ex­actly the same. So how’s it done?

Mostly, by find­ing the gear where your throt­tle feels most con­nected to the rear tyre, and has its smoothest re­sponse. For me, that means high revs – higher than I’d use in the dry, but with smaller throt­tle open­ings.

To off­set the re­duced grip, con­cen­trate on plac­ing the bike with more pre­ci­sion than in the dry. Try to make ev­ery move­ment as stealthy as you can. Soften the ini­tial way you open the throt­tle and squeeze the brakes. You can still use them quite hard, as long as you cre­ate smooth weight trans­fer. And if your bike has a snatchy throt­tle, try us­ing the clutch to cut out the jerks, ei­ther open­ing up or shut­ting off.

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