Rain riding tips: How to keep going anywhere, anytime!



20140430_173316_HDR_1I have previously shared some Summer and Winter riding tips, based on my personal stupidity and the consequential experiences. Only for your benefit and entertainment, I keep making such idiotic mistakes and keep learning new things. I repeat, it’s only for your benefit and entertainment, and maybe also some cheeky fun for me. You are welcome.

I have done about 50% of my riding in North India, where you get the extreme of every weather possible. I once rode 100 kms  in a cold night, in fog, with rain falling down from the sky. Since I lived through that battering, I kept doing it over and over again. Riding in rain needs a certain set of qualities, like big balls, a nice ass, and complete domination over your machine. Here are some of my rain riding tips that I hope you find useful! 

Check those tires!

20140621_142349_HDR_1You can get away with using old, worn out rubber during summer and winter, even though you shouldn’t because it is stupid. However, it is simply impossible to ride in rain without a nice set of tires. The treads on your tires are the only thing that stop aquaplaning. And trust me, you don’t want to aquaplane. It feels like trying to walk with stilettos on an ice rink.

Most tires have markers that will tell you when it is battered beyond help. A simple visual inspection is enough as well, just keep an eye out on the central part. The sides wear out very slowly, unless you are Vanlentino Rossi at Mugello. When you do know that the tire needs to be changed, do it immediately. Don’t wait for the next ride or a few more kilometers or anything else. It takes very little ignorance for an accident to take place, and even less bad luck.

Clean your visor infrequently

Yes, you read that correct. DON’T clean your visor every few minutes, it serves no purpose and will only destroy it. You’ll soon realize that cleaning the visor frequently only clears your vision for a few seconds, it will go back to being shitty very quick. Go slow, get used to riding with that bad vision, and clean your visor only once every half an hour or so.

I generally keep a dry piece of cloth under the instrument console, with which I wipe my visor dry after some time. With the amount of dust and grime that will stick to your visor riding in India, rubbing a cloth over it every few minutes will scratch it into oblivion. Have patience, and control yourself! It is also a good idea to clean your visor with a clean piece of tissue paper every time you stop. Using the same dirty cloth will damage your visor as well.

Go easy, keep more distance

People generally keep riding in rain the way they ride in summer, bad choice! Rain will severely affect your braking performance, more so for disc brakes. It will also affect your tire grip. It also will reduce your reaction times, since you can’t see shit! Never go too quick when it is raining.

Always keep a good buffer between you and the rider/driver in front. Keep more buffer for everything, cornering, braking, acceleration. Riding in rain is fun, but it also perilously dangerous! So keep your head on your shoulders and your body on the bike.

Yellow light is best light

Don’t go for white light bulbs in your headlights during the rainy season, it is a disaster! Yellow light has better spread, is more comfortable on the eye, and is brighter than white light anyways. The major problem happens when white light gets mixed with rain, you won’t see anything!

Some of you might have experienced this before, white light in rain just bounces off everything and doesn’t light up the road. So if you are going for better headlights or HIDs in rainy season, keep that Kelvin value as little as possible!

Train your ass

This applies to every type of terrain, but is much more important for rains and bad patches. When you are on the bike, you can only see what is happening at front, you have no eyes on what your rear tire is doing. This is where a nice ass comes into the picture.

A good ass will let you know the slightest things that are happening at back. Tire spin? You’ll know. Tire lock up? You’ll know. Chain is saggy? You’ll know. Consider your ass as another pair of eyes, that tells you everything your real eyes can’t see. Yes that is not a good analogy, but you get the point.

Wear waterproof layer

Blatantly obvious, isn’t it? Still many many people don’t wear waterproof layers during rainy rides. Their logic? “We are enjoying the rains”. Cool, alright. If getting rashes on your butt, high fever, and fucking up the entire week next to the ride is your idea of “enjoyment”, go right ahead.

Yes it doesn’t look cool when you are covered head to toe, but it will definitely keep you comfy and safe from the elements. I’ve seen people who put on a helmet, wear a sleeveless t-shirt, put on a boxer and go out to ride. Can you imagine how he will look when he takes a fall? I can, but don’t want to.

Don’t follow anyone too closely

I’ve said this before – keep a buffer between you and the guy in front because of the adverse impacts of rain on your bike’s and your performance. It is also important to keep this buffer because rain means tire spray. Rain is fine, it will just stick to your visor and you can just wipe it off. Spray from other vehicles contains dust and grime, and it will fuck up your lid like nothing else.

If you do have to follow someone, follow them in a staggered way, stay away from their dead center. That is anyways the best way to follow someone, but it is extremely important for rain riding.

Trick to clean your visor, quickly and without stopping

Many a times it happens that the rain has stopped, still the drops are sticking to your visor. There is a simple solution to this problem! Find a good stretch of road where you can speed up safely, go to about 100 kmph and rotate your head left and right. You’ll instantly see the water drops drifting away from the center of your visor!

Remember, you only need that central part of the visor to remain clean, rest all can be as dirty as it likes. So try to keep that region free of grime, and scratches! Don’t go all crazy trying to clean every part of your helmet, it is not important and does not impact your ride in any way.

There you have it, my 2 cents about riding in rain. I have written all of these points considering that you won’t open your visor during rain, because it is a bad idea. My experience says that keeping the visor closed, no matter what the weather, is the safest way for your eyes. Best thing would be to for a pinlock visor, which will not fog up in any weather. For a normal visor, open it just a little bit to keep that fog away.

I’m sure you must have your own ways to beat the water, do let me know in the comments!

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  1. Swadhin

    “God gave me an Okay mind.. But a really good Ass to feel anything in a Car” ~ Niki Lauda. In this case Bike 😀

    1. AK

      I thought of the same scene from the movie Rush while writing this Swadhin 🙂

  2. Subin Benedict Stellus

    I might be a little late to the comment party, but I’d like to add one more tip. A rather important one. If it hasn’t rained in a while and it starts to rain, stop on the side of the road for a good 10 minutes as it is during the beginning of a downpour that all the oil, grime and slick from the road comes to the surface and this can basically bring your traction down to zero. I have had a crash with this respect where it started to rain and after 2 minutes, the bike just slipped out from under me. I was riding straight up, without applying brakes, without accelerating hard, without leaning. Luckily I was wearing full gear and I came out unscathed. Faired bike didn’t fare as well though.

    1. AK

      Bad luck there Subin!

    1. AK

      Gotta try it!

    2. rajaspidey

      Came here to comment this. I have an Formula 1 windshield cleaner with rain guard it works awesome in car should work on visor too.