A Quick Guide to Rain Riding.

Riding in the #rain can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience, only if you are prepared for it. Some people don’t ride as much during the monsoon as they do in other seasons while others completely refrain from doing it. On the flip side, a lot of riders thoroughly enjoy riding while it’s showering. It’s an individual’s choice if they want to do it or not. #rainriding

or as we call it in India #monsoonriding.

Rains reduce visibility, wet roads reduce traction, wet clothing reduces your concentration level, and any one of the aspects or a combination means a higher risk for motorcycle riding in rains. Listed below are few important techniques, which can make your commute through the rain much safer.

The Golden Rule of wet weather motorcycle riding is Gentle Inputs. Actually, gentle input is the correct way for riding any time. Riding in rains makes this rule more important. You should be very gentle in every input you give be it acceleration, braking or leaning. Throttle inputs might not be a major issue with smaller displacement, lesser torque-producing bikes but the big bikes might be a handful to manage in the rain. And that’s mainly because of their rear wheel’s tendency to spin and slide under hard acceleration. While this may be enjoyable for a person who’s skilled enough to handle wheel spins, it might induce panic in new riders. So the only way to deal with this is by providing gentle and gradual throttle inputs, especially when the bike is leaned in.

Once you start riding, find an empty patch of road and brake hard. This will give you an idea of how much grip and braking power you have. A couple of scary moments on an empty road help immensely. Gently apply brakes periodically to wipe rotors of water, mud or debris. Maintain a speed limit of 20 km/h slower than what you usually ride on your most frequently travelled roads. This enables you to ride comfortably and brake wherever you want smoothly. Actually, this will give you an ample amount of time to slow down your motorcycle without the need for hard braking.

One of the most common causes of accidents during monsoon is Panic Braking. The time duration in which the front or rear wheel locks up on a wet surface is much shorter than that in dry conditions. Hence, it’s important to brake progressively. The best way to do it is to engage both brakes together which helps in shortening your braking distance. Fortunately, all modern over-125cc bikes have ABS at least on the front wheel these days due to the strict safety norms. Such motorcycles or scooters tend to be much safer to brake in the wet as the equation of locking the ABS-equipped wheel is eliminated. However, the older machines which are not equipped with this safety net have to be braked progressively.

Looking at the right place is one effective way to avoid getting caught up with obstacles such as manhole cover, painted lines, spilt oil or gravel and mud. Technically, when you focus on a certain point while riding, your two-wheeler automatically goes towards that point. Hence, if you keep concentrating on puddles or oil spills, you’re sure to pass over them and get in trouble. This reminds me of the joy people experience while going through a puddle and splashing water. Well, it could be risky since you might fail to gauge the depth of a puddle and jumping into a deep one might result in a fall. It is also better to ride your motorcycle One Gear Lower than what it deserves generally. This offers greater control to the rider and stability to the bike.

Most Indian vehicles do not have effective mudguards. So you will always have mud thrown on you. Always carry cloth for cleaning headlight, taillight and blinkers. Carry a small napkin for cleaning the helmet visor. Visibility – you being able to see and others seeing you is critical. While riding in the rain, always keep your Headlight On. It is better to be visible to others on the road. Do not put the headlight on the high beam. You won’t see anything more in heavy rain and in the case of fog, the high beam will reflect back making you temporarily blind.

A good biker is one who also thinks about the other riders on the road. With water droplets on the helmet visors/car windscreens, it blinds the oncoming traffic. Use high beam judiciously and only wherever necessary. People with Spectacles pay special attention when on the road as fog or mist on your glasses can be dangerous.

If you own a motorcycle with a radiator and this is your first rainy season, don’t panic if your motorcycle creates a large white coloured smoke from the engine area. It is the water touching a hot radiator. For motorcycles without a radiator, this would happen when the water touches the hot engine for the first time.

While riding through Standing or Flowing Water, be steady on the throttle. Do not drop the revs to idle. Keep riding at 2-3,000 rpm. If you need to slow down, use the clutch to control speed but do NOT reduce the rpm. In case you drop the revs, water may enter the exhaust and then you will have a stalled bike and heavy engine repair bill to face.

As you cannot see open manhole covers or potholes, it is advisable to follow the tyre tracks of the vehicle in front of you. If not one is available, park your motorcycle and walk through the water first to gauge the depth and condition of the submerged road.

Whether you just commute to the office or take off on long tours, you need to be prepared. Get the motorcycle serviced at the beginning of the rainy season. If service isn’t due, just get it checked at the service centre. You should check that electricals are working fine, all lights are working, there is no cut in spark plug cable, tyres have sufficient tread. Keep the motorcycle chain always lubricated. The humid air + dry chain will result in instant rust. While the bike is in parking, check for oil leaks, as once you start riding, every part of your motorcycle will be wet and you won’t be able to find out if there are any leaks.

Now some controversial advice: If you intend to ride in wet, over-inflate your tyres slightly, say by 5 psi. This will reduce the contact patch of your tyre and prevent Hydroplaning. Hydroplaning occurs when a layer of water builds between the wheels of the vehicle and the road surface, leading to a loss of traction that prevents the vehicle from responding to control inputs. Lower tyre pressure increases the contact patch of the tyre. Higher the contact patch, the higher the chances of hydroplaning.

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