Swing in the rain
Riding well in the wet can improve your overall ability
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.