It’s safe to say that the weather has been pretty shocking lately, particularly for those of us living in the UK. Those sunny Sunday afternoon rides are nothing but a distant memory, and we’re all checking weather updates in hope of the return of that glorious little thing called ‘sunshine’.
But, a little (ok, more than a little) bit of wet weather shouldn’t stop you taking your bike out for a spin. And with the rain showing few signs of abating anytime soon, we thought it’d be a good idea to put together some riding tips to make sure you’re well-prepared while riding on those wet-wet roads.
Preparations must be made to both you and your bike before any wet weather ride.
Obviously, waterproof clothing is a must for riding in the rain. You might find that some waterproof clothes will make you sweat – which defeats the object of you trying to stay dry – so opt for breathable materials such as Reissa and Gore-Tex.
Get dressed in your riding gear before you venture out. Make sure everything’s fastened and zipped-up properly to prevent water from leaking inside your clothes. Gloves should be tucked in underneath your sleeve cuffs and your collars may need to be adjusted. Make sure your belongings are secured in watertight pockets.
You should invest in a decent helmet regardless of the weather you’re riding in. Wearing a quality helmet when riding in wet weather will reduce the chances of your visor misting up. Before you set off on your ride, make sure the visor is properly fitted; if it’s not, water could leak inside and could cause it to mist.
While on the subject of visibility – make sure you can be seen on the roads. Rain usually brings fog and poor visibility conditions, so it’s important that you and your bike can be spotted even from a distance.
Make sure you give your bike a once over before taking to the roads. Check tyres are at the right pressure, check your brake pads and discs for wear, and make sure your lights are working properly.
You should also check your throttle, steering and brakes for responsiveness, along with your wheel spokes (if your bike has them), cables, drive belt / chain and engine oil.
The list could go on… But making sure every area is covered before you set off will mean you’re not caught out in the rain (literally) because of something that could have been prevented.
On the road
Riding well on wet roads requires both confidence and smoothness. Get it right, and it can actually be quite fun.
Tyres don’t heat up as fast in the wet, so make sure you’re riding extra smoothly for the first 20 minutes of a journey. This means easy on the throttle and brakes and watch your clutch control.
When riding in the wet, avoid sudden and/or abrupt manoeuvres, especially when braking. Even if your bike has ABS and LBS (linked braking system) it’s worth remembering that applying the rear brake and then the front brake will enable you to stop more smoothly. Remember that braking distance is increased in wet conditions, so allow plenty of extra stopping time. When braking, squeeze, don’t grab.
Make sure to match your gear with the speed you are travelling. Before you change down, let the revs drop so that the back wheel won’t lock up and make you slide.
Corners can be tricky things when riding in the wet, so make sure you slow right down on approach and have good brake and clutch control. All gear changes and braking should be done when your bike is positioned upright and well before the corner.
Dodge slippery things
There are many objects on the road that turn hazardous when they are wet. Make sure you avoid manhole covers, drains, cats eyes and the white lines on zebra crossings. Be extra vigilant and look out for shiny patches on the road, as oil spills could be fatal if you were to slip on them. Spilt deisel on traffic roundabouts are particularly common problems but visible signs like ‘rainbows’ will give you a little forewarning if you stay observant.
Take these tips on board and you’ll find that riding in the wet can be both fun and educational. Riding this way requires more skill and increased alertness, allowing you to grow more confident as a rider.
So, go and show that rain who’s boss.