Riding Motorcycle In Rain Tips – Guide to Staying Safe and Dry

Troy
| Last Updated: May 19, 2021

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It’ll sometimes be necessary, and unavoidable, to ride your motorcycle in the rain.

A daunting prospect to most at first, however, riding in the rain can be done safely if approached correctly, and it can even become an enjoyable experience! 

Here are some tips to overcome the challenge.

Photo credit: motorcyclenews.com

Riding Motorcycle in Rain Tips 

Before we start with the detailed discussions, here’s an overview of what the article entails. You can take a quick look if you don’t have loads of time on your hands.

Riding Tips

Best For

Protect Yourself With The Right Waterproof Gear

Keeping you dry and warm during wet weather

Ensure Your Motorcycle and Tires Are Maintained and Functioning Properly

Better traction and grip in rain. General safe riding

Map An Alternate Route Once Heavy Rain Pours

Avoiding busy highways and roads, traffic, and intersections

Decrease Speed When Approaching Intersection

Avoiding sudden harsh braking and possible skidding

Slow Down and Stay Alert

Maximizing reaction time

Watch Out For Manholes And Slippery Surfaces

Avoiding traction loss on these wet surfaces

Seek Out Dry Lines

Reducing water depth

Make Yourself Visible With Orange or Yellow

Being seen in poor conditions

Protect Belongings With Zippered Plastic Bags

Keeping your gadgets, and other important stuff dry

Stand Up To Keep Water From Pooling

Clearing water build-up on the seat

10 Tips for Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain

Riding in the rain with a motorcycle can be dangerous. However, you can take some precautions if you absolutely need or want to take on this task.

Protect Yourself With the Right Waterproof Gear

Preparation is key. If it’s raining, you’ll need to dress accordingly to avoid getting soaked, and perhaps even winding up with the flu, not to mention the discomfort.

You’ll need a set of waterproof or water-resistant clothing, starting with a jacket and trousers. These can generally be worn over your normal clothing and should keep you dry and warm during your ride. It’s a good idea to keep a set in your backpack, or stowed in your bike, for those unexpected showers. 

Water-resistant clothing will eventually saturate after prolonged exposure to the rain, whereas waterproof will not absorb any water at all. 

Choose your wet weather gear in a bright color, yellow is good, as you want to be as visible as possible during rainy weather. Make sure the items fasten firmly around the neck, wrists, and ankles, to prevent water ingress.

Your gloves too should be waterproof. Wet hands will become uncomfortably cold while riding, and your hands won’t react as well. Your shoes should also be water-resistant, as there will be a lot of spray and splashing going on at your feet.

Ideally, you’ll want to be wearing a full-face helmet, as this will offer the most protection, however, there’s the risk of the visor fogging up. Treat your visor with anti-fogging products regularly to minimize this. 

If your helmet is open-faced, or off-road type, then you should invest in a good set of goggles, which should be worn at all times, wet or dry. Treat the goggles with anti-fogging products too. The goggles should have a firm fit to the face, with no leaks.

Keep some plastic or ziplock bags with you to keep items dry. If you carry a backpack when riding, choose one that’s at least water-resistant and high visibility.

Ensure Your Motorcycle and Tires Are Maintained and Functioning Properly

Carry out regular inspections of your motorcycle. Pay particular attention to your tires, they’re your first line of defense. The treads shouldn’t be worn down. The deeper the tread, the better, particularly in the rain, as it’s this tread depth that clears the water beneath your rubber. 

Worn tires will have vastly reduced adhesion in the wet, and braking efficiency will be dangerously affected.

Make sure your brakes are in good order at all times. Brake pads, discs, and brake linings all need to be in good condition. Check the brake fluid circuits to ensure the levels are correct, and that there aren’t any leaks. 

Make sure the lever and pedal function correctly. Check the rest of your bike to make sure there aren’t any oil or fuel leaks. Oil and water don’t mix well. 

Ensure that all your lighting is functioning properly, and replace any blown globes and dulled or cracked brake and indicator covers. Clean the rearview mirrors.

Your shock absorbers need to be in good condition and, if adjustable, set correctly. Worn shocks will result in poor handling and diminished braking ability.

Map an Alternate Route Once Heavy Rain Pours

Choose a route that’ll be less likely to have heavy traffic, especially large trucks. Following other vehicles in the spray can be blinding and an experience you might want to avoid at all costs. If there are any gaps in your wet weather gear, believe us, the spray will find them.

Taking the quieter route may be indirect, but generally, your speed may be lower, which in itself is a safety plus. Try to plan a route with fewer major intersections, as these areas tend to have more painted lines and a higher concentration of oil on the surface from other vehicles that have stopped over time. 

Fewer intersections also mean less stopping and accelerating. The less you disturb the momentum of your bike in the wet, the better.

Plan a route that will take you past several places of shelter. Gas stations, car parks (preferably covered), and shops are all handy to stop at should a really heavy downpour occur while you’re on your way. Be wary of stopping under bridges. You could be hit should another vehicle come off the road.

Avoid routes where you know there’s likely to be a build-up of standing water, dips, and gullies are all ideal places for rainwater to accumulate, so stay clear of those.

Decrease Speed When Approaching an Intersection

It’s important to approach intersections more slowly and cautiously in the wet. Firstly, your braking ability will be much less than on a dry road, and so will that of everyone around you. Be mindful that intersections, where vehicles come to a stop, are likely to have a concentration of oil on the ground that has leaked from other vehicles, and this will be very slippery in the rain.

Secondly, having to make sudden braking or turning moves in the rain isn’t a good idea, as adhesion can quickly be lost, and the chances of recovering from a skid in the wet aren’t good. Slowing down well before the intersection will give you time to anticipate suddenly developing situations and react safely and timeously, without harsh action.

Photo credit: rideapart.com

Try and anticipate traffic light cycles to avoid having to stop when possible. This keeps the balance of the bike more stable, instead of slowing down and speeding up.

Keep an eye on the behavior of other traffic around you. Other drivers may turn or stop suddenly without warning, so you should keep a distance that you feel comfortable with and will give you enough time and space to react in an emergency.

Be mindful, too, of any pedestrians that may be crossing the road near intersections. Be careful of puddles that may form near pavements, there could be a missing drain cover under them.

Slow Down and Stay Alert

In wet conditions, road adhesion and visibility are vastly reduced. To compensate for 

this, you need to ride more slowly. There are many good reasons for this.

Going slower means that you’ll have more time to observe your surroundings and any sudden events that may occur, giving you more time to take appropriate action. Bear in mind that these conditions are the same for everyone around you, and take into consideration the fact that some other vehicles may not be in good condition and that other drivers may and will do unexpected things. Watch for drivers that may turn suddenly without indicating.

Photo credit: eatsleepride.com

Reducing your speed will also minimize the risk of you hydroplaning should you encounter a patch of standing water. Hydroplaning is a condition where the tire is unable to clear the water beneath it and “floats” on the surface. 

This can be a difficult situation for any vehicle, and on a motorcycle, it can be fatal. If you find yourself in a hydroplaning situation, ease off the throttle and don’t brake! Allow the bike’s weight to bring it back into contact with the road.

Be careful of puddles, as that wet patch could be hiding a pothole or other obstacle that could cause an accident. Try and steer around the puddle or, if unavoidable, go through it with no sudden throttle or braking action. Keep the bike as stable as possible. Try to relax, because if you’re tensed up, your reactions may become erratic or delayed. 

Watch Out For Manholes and Slippery Surfaces

A multitude of surfaces that you ride over every day can suddenly become deadly hazards in the rain.

Painted road lines can be as slippery as ice, and any sudden acceleration or braking could cause your wheel to slip out from under you, causing a fall. Try and avoid stopping with your wheels on painted lines at stop signs or traffic lights. Your sudden acceleration can lead to wheelspin and possibly a fall. Similarly, avoid painted road lines in bends, as your momentum will not necessarily be completely ahead, and you’ll need maximum traction. Try not to lean excessively in corners, and you should be cornering as slowly as possible.

Manhole covers can become slippery, and just a touch of the wheel on one could throw you out of control. Be aware that, in heavy downpours, the drain under a manhole may become flooded, with the manhole cover not seated firmly. Again, try and avoid these at all costs.

Road surfaces that have recently been repaired may be of a different texture to the original surface, with a different level of adhesion. New surfaces may still have an oily residue from when they were laid down. You’ll usually identify these as a different shade or color from the original surface. Take extra care when riding over these, and reduce speed.

If you’re changing from one type of surface to another, say tar to dirt, be aware of the different road textures and properties when wet. Make the transition slowly to avoid a sudden loss of grip.

Seek Out Dry Lines

While you’re following traffic in the rain, keep an eye open for the tire tracks of vehicles ahead of you. The tires on those vehicles, particularly heavy ones, can lift a surprising amount of water from the road, albeit temporarily. Keep your wheels in those tire tracks to benefit from that slightly drier line, but be careful not to get too close to the vehicle ahead. 

The water displaced by the tires ahead of you will take several seconds to flood back, so you should easily be able to follow at a safe enough distance, while still reaping the benefit of less water under your tires. The downside is that you may be riding in a little more spray.

Photo credit: cycleworld.com

You should also look for drier patches offered by buildings, overhanging trees, and the like. These will all create drier patches than you can benefit from. Be careful though, as you come back into any wetter patches, as the sudden transition from dry to very wet can catch you by surprise.

If the downpour becomes too risky to continue, seek shelter under a covered area until it’s safe to continue. Be wary though, and try not to be stopped in an area where you can be hit by any passing motorist who loses control. 

Make Yourself Visible With Orange or Yellow

As we mentioned earlier, choose high visibility colors for your rain gear. Bright yellow or orange “luminous” or dayglo colors stand out very well against the drab conditions of a rainstorm. With all the rain and spray associated with a downpour, you need to make yourself as visible as possible. 

Bear in mind that the other drivers around you may also be struggling to see clearly in the conditions, so the earlier you become visible to them, the better. High visibility waterproof clothing is readily available at most bike shops and other outlets. 

If you don’t have yours yet, wear whatever you have that’s bright and preferably water-resistant. If you have a bright helmet, this will also help with being visible to other motorists. 

Whatever measures you take to make yourself more visible are well worth the effort, no matter how outrageous they may look. It’s your safety at stake, after all. Riders should be seen and not hurt.

Protect Belongings With Zippered Plastic Bags

Always carry a few ziplock bags on your motorcycle. These will come in handy to store any items that you need to keep dry. Those items may be your mobile phone, key remotes, watches, spare light clothing, cigarettes, lighter, or anything you don’t want to get wet. The bags are quick and easy to use, and obviously should be reusable. 

The bags aren’t bulky when empty, so will easily fit into a small storage area on your bike or in a backpack. Speaking of backpacks, that too should be as water-resistant as possible. If you don’t have ziplock bags, regular plastic shopping bags will work, they can simply be tied to keep the contents dry, and they don’t take up any space when empty. 

If you choose to hang the bags on your bike, make sure that they don’t come into contact with the wheels, exhaust, or controls and that they don’t swing around.

Stand Up to Keep Water From Pooling

While you’re riding in the rain, you’ll invariably find that water starts pooling on the saddle between your legs. This can prove pretty uncomfortable if you didn’t follow our advice and wear waterproof trousers, and even if you did, you might want to get rid of this water regularly. 

If you allow the water to pool up, it may become uncomfortably cold down there.

Simply stand up on the footpegs occasionally for a few seconds to clear the water, but try and do this while you’re traveling at a moderate, constant speed in a straight line and not in a bend or while you’re braking or accelerating. 

You could use a dense cloth jammed in front of you to absorb this water but bear in mind that this will become saturated fairly quickly.

Be Prepared Before It Rains

Your bike should be in a good roadworthy condition at all times, but even more so when it rains. Your tires, brakes, controls, lights, and instruments all need to be inspected regularly to make sure they’re functioning properly and immediately repaired or replaced if they show signs that they’re not.

Tire tread depth must be kept well above the minimum. While a shallow tread depth may not have much consequence in the dry, you’ll find yourself unable to clear the water on the road in the rain. Any hydroplaning will at best be nerve-wracking and at worst be fatal.

Your brake pads, discs, and linings must have sufficient material left to operate correctly. Ensure that there are no leaks from your engine, gearbox, or shocks. Always ensure the drive chain isn’t worn and is correctly tensioned. 

If your suspension is adjustable, make sure it’s at the correct setting. Make sure your rain gear is at hand before your journey, and always keep ziplock bags on the bike or in a backpack.

Once you’re satisfied that all of these things are in order, you’re good to go. Enjoy the experience, and be careful!

What to Wear When Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain

You’ll inevitably find yourself having to ride in the rain at some stage in most countries. Unless you don’t mind a good drenching, it’s advisable to purchase a good set of rain gear for these occasions. Here is what you need.

Rain Suit

Get yourself a good quality, high visibility rain suit. Waterproof suits are preferable or a water-resistant set of clothing that can be worn in the dry as well. Ideally, the zippers should be covered by flaps for extra protection and the neck, wrists, and ankles tightly closed.

Photo credit: rideapart.com

Helmet

A full-face helmet will offer the best protection from the rain. Treat the visor regularly with anti-fogging products to avoid misting. If your helmet is an open face or off-road type, then invest in a good pair of goggles that fit firmly on your face.

Boots

Your riding boots should also be water-resistant. There will be a lot of spray coming from your wheel, as well as from the road, so keeping your feet dry and warm is important.

Gloves

A good pair of water-resistant gloves should be part of your everyday riding gear. You need to keep your hands dry and warm. There’s nothing worse than trying to operate the controls with numb hands.

Safety Considerations During Wet Riding Conditions

Let us look at some safety aspects to consider before and during a ride in the rain.

Tell Someone Where You’re Going

Before embarking on a wet weather journey, or if possible during one, let someone know where you are, what your destination is, and the expected time you’ll get there. This could be your spouse, family member, friend, or colleague. 

And don’t forget to tell those persons once you’ve arrived or if you’ve had a change of plan. If you don’t arrive on time, at least somebody will be expecting you and they can trace you.

Watch Your Speed    

Rain can be a great leveler, in more ways than one!  Your handing, braking, and acceleration all are impaired in wet weather. Avoid sudden movements on the bike, such as leaning, braking, and twisting the throttle. The key is to keep your motorcycle as stable as possible at all times. 

Lower your speed to match the conditions and avoid going quickly through puddles or standing water, as your speed will cause a hydroplaning effect, from which you may not be able to recover. In this instance, slower is quicker!

First Aid Kit

If you have space, it’s always advisable to carry a basic first aid kit. It can be used for minor injuries that you or anyone else may incur while on your ride.

Conclusion

Riding in the rain doesn’t have to be an event that causes you to fear. With correct preparation and approach, it can be an enjoyable experience. Make sure you have the necessary rain gear, that your motorcycle is in good condition, and adopt a riding style suited to the conditions.

If you have all of the above in place, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t arrive safely at your destination. You might even find yourself looking forward to the next time it rains!

People Also Ask

Naturally, bikers, particularly novices, have many questions about wet weather riding. It’s a different experience to dry weather biking and can be daunting at first. We’ll try to put your mind at ease with some of these answers to commonly asked questions.

How Do You Stay Dry While Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain?

The only way to stay dry during the rain is to wear appropriate wet weather gear. That includes the suit, gloves, boots, and face protection. Your comfort and concentration will be much improved if you keep dry.

Is Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain Worth the Risk?

Wet weather driving is hazardous, whether on two or four wheels. But we feel that with the correct preparation, driving style, and patience that it’s well worth the risk. Once the preparation becomes second nature to you, you’ll be more comfortable with the rain.

Why Do People Like to Ride in the Rain?

A lot of bikers like the rain! It can be seen as a challenge to take on a different type of riding experience altogether. It brings out so many different aspects to your ride and can improve your skills!

Troy

Hi, my name’s Troy. I started riding motorcycles with Clay mid-2020 and soaking up his vast knowledge of bikes. I have been writing for a few years and decided it was a good time to start writing about what I’m passionate about - motorcycles. No matter how bad your day is, a bike will always make you feel better, that’s my motto.