Rain got you down? While many riders tend to be a wet blanket when the weather turns sour, a little bit of water never hurt anyone. Hurricanes aside, it’s still possible to enjoy a cruise in wet weather. With proper precautions and preparation, you’ll have just as much fun, rain or shine.
The best step to preparing for any ride is to check out your bike. Inspect your ride to make sure it’s all cleaned up, tuned up and ready to rock. This includes the obvious areas, like tire pressure and fuel and oil levels, but also means equipping your cruiser with the parts it needs to handle the weather.
If you’re expecting rain, the best motorcycle brakes go a long way in keeping you on two wheels. We love Galfer 1054 Semi-Metallic Brake Pads, with their versatile nature and durable resistance. Of course, always make sure your OEM or aftermarket brake pads and shoes match your bike.
Another critical aftermarket mod is a quality set of tires. Slick roads and deep puddles can cause even the most cautious rider to skid into a ditch if they’re sporting bald tires. In terms of versatility and grip one of the best tires for wet weather is the Michelin Pilot Road 4. These beasts keep you going longer, stopping faster and enjoying all the thrills of the road. Pilot Road 4 treads last 20% longer than most and give you maximum traction at any temperature between 23 and 113 degrees.
Now that your motorcycle is ready for rain, it’s time to suit up to keep warm and dry. Water resistant clothing and thermal layers keep you warm when water is flying at your at 60 miles per hour. While nothing beats the classic look of a leather jacket on a cruiser, consider switching over to more water-resistant materials. The Fly Two-Piece Rain Suit is one of the best waterproof riding gear options. It offers all-around protection that’s designed for normal motorcycle wear and tear. The reflectors are an added bonus, as visibility is a major risk during a storm.
Once you’re protected from the elements and visibility to drivers and other riders who’re brave enough to handle the rain, you need to see where you’re going. One excellent strategy is to wear your off-road helmet and motorcycle rain goggles. Since motocross goggles are made to get wet, muddy and covered with debris, it’s only natural that they’d make great rain goggles.
A motorcycle helmet visor protector adds another layer of protection and increases your visibility. All the clever maneuvers in the world won’t do you any good if you can’t see where you’re going.
Look for a Dry Path
Whether you typically ride in the left, right or center of your lane, look for any dry patches in your lane. If the right side of your lane and your entire shoulder are pooled over, keep center to avoid the water. This may sound simple, but it’s easy to forget if you’re in the habit of keeping right.
However, nothing good comes from veering all over the road. If there’s a consistent dry portion, follow it. Otherwise, you’ll be swerving to and fro looking for dry land and negating any advantage you receive in terms of safety and traction.
If it’s still raining, you won’t be able to find a dry path. The next best thing is to avoid areas that are known for being slick. Sealer pavement and manhole covers are two common areas where most bikes struggle to gain traction. However, turning or braking over these areas is the biggest concern. Just like driving on snowy or icy roads, the name of the game in wet weather is slow, cautious turns and no sudden brakes.
Keep an Eye on Intersections
Intersections are notorious for becoming oily, slick and overall disaster zones in the rain. The natural oils in pavement are most prominent in areas where cars stop more often. This makes intersections a recipe for skidding, sliding and connecting with the pavement.
Be overly cautious around stop signs and stop lights. The last thing you want to do in wet weather is slam on your brakes. This isn’t the time to try to skate through a yellow light or fly around a curve.
Give other drivers and riders plenty of room. You may not be the only one on the road with excellent brakes, and the last thing you want is to swerve uncontrollably because the car in front of your came to a sudden stop. Increase your follow distance to ensure you have plenty of time to hit the brakes gently.
Although you may be sporting the best motorcycle goggles, don’t assume other riders are. Be cautious of your fellow bikers. High-viz gear helps, but be sure to give them plenty of space and warning if you’re planning on turning or stopping. Intersections are especially dangerous, as drivers and riders often underestimate the amount of space they need to turn or cross in front of you.
Go Easy on the Brakes
While the first rainfall may feel like a great time to try out your new brakes, go easy on them at first. Even the most abrasion-resistant, high-performance brakes take some extra time to stop. Hitting the brakes hard is a good way to lock up your wheels and skid around on any puddles in the road. Slow and steady wins the wet weather race.
Here’s another moment when the best waterproof riding gloves get a chance to shine. Not only are they great for getting a grip on turns and accelerations, waterproof gloves keep your hands comfortably nimble to brake in a smooth, steady motion.
Enjoy the Showers
Finally, riding in the rain is dramatically improved with an attitude adjustment. When properly equipped, a wet weather ride can be an enjoyable change of pace. Look back on all those hot and humid days on the scorching black top and be thankful that a little rain cut the humidity and gave you the chance to enjoy a cool, cloudy ride.