Is It Dangerous To Ride A Motorcycle In The Rain?

Few things in life are more liberating than the idea of riding your motorcycle cross country. However, there are a few things you need to bear in mind before you set out on a trip. One major consideration is whether or not it’s dangerous to ride a motorcycle in the rain.

It is dangerous to ride a motorcycle in the rain, but you can stay safe by following some basic precautions. Make sure you only ride in the rain if you absolutely must, and ensure you wear all of the proper gear to stay visible to other drivers. Driving smoothly is also key in the rain.

Below, we’ll go into more detail about the kind of precautions you should take when riding a motorcycle in the rain. We’ll also discuss some driving techniques you can use to ensure you stay safe when riding in the wet.

Dangers Of Riding A Motorcycle In The Rain

It can be dangerous to ride your motorcycle in the rain. Frankly, it can be dangerous riding your motorcycle anywhere at any time. In the rain, there are unique issues to deal with. Since you can’t always predict when a storm will start up, you need to take extra precautions to minimize the risks of being caught out in the storm.

You need to take some precautions before you ride in the rain, as there are many things to consider. A simplified rundown ofthese precautions includes avoiding the rain unless you have to be in it, taking special gear precautions if you get stuck, and making yourself visible to other drivers.

Avoid Rain When You Can

A simple rule for reducing the risks of riding in the rain is just to be mindful of the weather. If you keep an eye on the forecast and the surrounding skies, you can typically gauge the greater risk of upcoming storms that you should avoid.

In cases of a flash flood or sudden rainstorms, this isn’t going to be possible. This is why you should always be ready for rain, even if you don’t expect it in the forecast. If you’re out on the road when a storm starts up, you don’t want to be caught completely off guard.

What Gear Do You Need To Ride A Motorcycle In The Rain?

Any time you will be riding somewhere where the risk of rain is prevalent, it’s a good idea to have rain gear on hand. You’re going to want to be mindful of your visors and hand gear. Maintaining clear vision of the road is essential, and just as with your car’s windshield, you don’t want your helmet visor to fog up and block your view. But it’s not just about your own visibility.

It’s definitely important to acquire visor gear that will not fog or limit your visibility in the rain. But it’s equally important to be seen by other drivers. You need to acquire a reflector vest or brightly colored gear that will make you highly visibleto other drivers.

Think About Temperature

The immediate consequence of getting stuck out in the rain on a motorcycle is physical. You will get cold fast without the right gear. In the summer months, this can be a mild inconvenience, but in some climates, this can be a health hazard. This is why you need to take the proper precautions to prevent getting mildly hypothermic from riding in the rain.

Purchase a biking jacket that is made for the rain. Having a jacket that is water resistant will add an extra layer of protection between the rain, your clothes, and your skin. Wear protective boots to protect your feet from rainwater and debris. Rain, even in a light storm, can be quite painful on your hands and feet if they are not covered by the correct protective gear.

Riding shoes are available with thick material that will be adequate for protecting your toes and heels. However, riding boots are tall enough to cover your lower leg, and also provide a thick material shield to your feet. This is why riding boots are typically recommended to provide a shield against rain, mud, and other gravel debris tossed up by rainstorms and high winds.

Some Driving Techniques For Riding A Motorcycle In The Rain

It’s not all about what you wear when it comes to riding in the rain however, as the way you ride is important too. Below are two useful riding techniques if you find yourself out on your bike in inclement weather.

Find A Dry Line

In the case of sporadic precipitation, there will be areas of the road that will be dry, while most of it will be wet. Find and drive on “dry line” wherever it is available, as this reduces the risk of slipping. It won’t be possible on every stretch of road, but the more you stick to it the better.

You’re likely wondering about the risks of riding a motorcycle in a situation where no dry line is available. If there’s no dry line, you need to reduce your speed to a low as is safely possible. You need to keep the bike going slowly to keep the water’s bow below the motorcycle’s engine air intake.

If you can, get to the side of the road, or the middle of the lane. The idea is to find the most level part of the road and keep yourself visible to other drivers.

Even though you are going incredibly slow at this point, you need to keep going, slow and steady, in as straight a line as possible. Maintain a steady throttle, speed, and gear. If you feel one of your tires kick loose, open the throttle just a bit more to keep from slipping.

Stay Out Of The Water

Avoid driving directly through the water. You get the same driver’s safety advice when learning to operate a car. The difference is a car steered directly through deep water can cause you to aquaplane. Your body is on the outside of a motorcycle, and driving directly through deep water will act as a natural barrier to the bike, and so you can be thrown off the bike.

Operate Your Bike Smoothly During Storms 

How you handle your bike can make all the difference when riding in the rain. This is why it is imperative that, if you are stuck in a bad storm, you must handle the bike smoothly. Throttle adjustments need to be smooth, and in small increments. You need to use less lean angle, and gradually apply brakes, so that you don’t “stab the lever” when braking.

If you’re too harsh on the brakes in the wet, you run the risk of fishtailing. This is when the back end slides out, and as you try and correct it the bike ends up going the other way. This is very dangerous at high speeds, so always make sure you don’t brake too sharply in the wet.

What About Riding A Motorcycle In Flash Floods?

The tips above are useful no matter what kind of rain it is you’re riding in. However, if you find yourself riding your motorcycle in a flash flood, there are a few more things you need to watch out for.

What About Potholes?

Bad patches of road are a problem any day, but in a flash flood situation, this can be a nightmare for some riders. It doesn’t have to be, however. If you are coming up on a pothole, kill your engine. Because you’re going slow, you should have time to cut the engine off. Do this as soon as possible. You’re going to do this to keep your air intake from sucking up water that will be flooding the pothole.

What If My Bike Goes Underwater?

If you turn off the engine and then go into the pothole, or your bike ends up submerged elsewhere, don’t immediately switch on the engine. You need to perform a little bit of maintenance first.

You need to remove the spark plug, remove the air filter if it’s wet, and then drain the airbox and exhaust of sitting water. Typically, turn the bike to a wheelie position or upside down to do this. You may need to turn the rear wheel with the bike in gear to pump water out of the cylinder. Any carburetors will need to be drained.

This is the correct course of action if the waterlogging is not too severe. However, in more severe engine flooding, you may require a lot more maintenance. If this happens, you might be best taking your bike to a mechanic.

Watch For Additional Risks

There are situations you will need to be more mindful of added risks. Areas like intersections can add to the challenge of navigating a rainstorm safely. Intersections, and areas where cars are in constant heavy traffic, will have a higher concentration of oil on the roads, and the increased pressure that you might feel as a result of just having more traffic around you. 

Other things to watch out for include:

  • Storm drain covers
  • Caution cones
  • Roadkill
  • Trash or debris

Occasionally, there will be other unplanned risks, like animals crossing the road, the unforeseen load sliding off a truck, and so on. Be cautious of your surroundings to avoid swerving and over-correcting to avoid an accident. Keeping your speed low is the best way to give yourself enough time to react to unforeseen circumstances.

In The Case Of A Serious Issue

If you encounter a serious issue while riding in the rain, you may need roadside assistance. You shouldn’t remain on the side of the road for long during rainstorms or other inclement weather. If need be, try to call your local roadside assistance service for help. These services typically provide battery service, flat tire assistance, towing, fluid delivery, and other useful services.

If you’re going on a long road trip, get a motorcycle insurance policy that provides roadside assistance services. This is due to the many added risks of long-distance travel with a motorcycle. Rain and bad weather adds to the risks that are already present with long-haul travel, and so, if bad weather is in the forecast during your trip, you don’t want to set out without a little reassurance.

Final Thoughts

Riding a motorcycle in the rain adds a few more challenges that require a few more precautions. But if approached properly, rain-riding can be made safer. As long as you plan your route in advance, wear the right gear and pay attention to those around you, riding your motorcycle in the rain can be safe!

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