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Tips for Riding in the Rain – Scooters & Motorcycles

30 January 2010 302,162 views 3 Comments

Scooter Underground - Motorcycle and Scooter Riding TipsAnother snotty day out there – no other way to describe it. Dark, chilly, and pissin’ down rain.

How do you ride safely in these conditions? First, make the decision whether you really have to be out there and then learn to ride safely.

Here are some tips:

Dress for success

  • Good raingear is essential as are gloves. When your body is freezing, your mind has distractions that do not allow it to focus on the road. Some scooters have pretty good leg protection and a windshield may help but you really need a good rainsuit with reflective strips and some toasty warm padded gloves. Good footwear keeps your toes happy and dry. The nice think about having a scooter is that there is enough storage so that you can keep a lot of this stuff handy at all times.
  • Check out s scooter skirt or lap apron as a really handy way of quickly and conveniently keeping your whole lower half warm and dry. One of these, a waterproof jacket, and good gloves can make you a happy camper in this type of weather.

Your vision

  • A visor can be both a blessing and a curse in the rain. We feel it is an essential thing but you have to keep it clear and fog free. Products such as Rain-X help to bead water so that the wind blows the droplets away without all the rippling and distorting effects. Adjusting your helmet vents and keeping airflow around the visor will prevent fogging and there are many anti-fog products used by motorcyclists and skiers that prevent fogging.
  • If you wear eyeglasses, use an antifog compound on them since they will often fog under your shield in this type of weather.
  • Carry a microfiber rag in your pocket so you can wipe your glasses and your visor as required

Making yourself visible

  • If you are having trouble seeing, you can bet that most of the other vehicles on the road have the same problem and on a scooter, you have a lot less margin for error in a collision – keeping visible is paramount
  • Remember – Driver’s often seem to have trouble seeing scooters and motorcycles even under the best of conditions – as a rider you must be doubly vigilant on the wet, dark, rainy days.
  • More lights – more better (but me mindful of local regulations regarding lights)
  • Reflective strips on both your clothing and your scooter are essential.
  • You know those neon jackets that you thought were tacky – they don’t seem so tacky anymore on days like this (Now they are considered cool anytime)
  • We strongly recommend scooter/motorcycle raingear. I bet your $500 North Face Gore-Tex Jacket that you are currently wearing does not have reflective strips in the right places for riding.
  • Know where your horn button is and how to use it. Consider getting a bigger and better horn like a Stebel Air Horn installed.
  • Pay special attention to lane position and avoid blind spots. On days like this, a driver’s blind spots are much larger to to water on the windshields, wiper blade movement, and fogged windows.

Riding speed

  • Slow down – your visibility is decreased and your braking distance has increased – this is a no brainer.
  • Another reason to slow down is that under these conditions your reaction time is often slower
  • Be smooth on all inputs. Accelerate more cautiously and apply the brakes smoothly to avoid spinning you rear wheel or going into a skid.

Planning your Route

  • Plan your route to avoid hazards. That bridge with the metal deck may not be a problem on most days but in the rain it may be a good one to avoid if there is an easy alternate route. Ditto for having to cross those railway tracks that run across the road at a funny angle. A bit of forethought with route planning is always a good idea and in the rain it is doubly important.

Road markings

  • Any white or yellow painted road marking becomes a nice shiny hazard for scooter and motorcycle riders on rainy days. The surface of the paint is considerably slicker than the surrounding road surface. Crosswalks usually come immediately before and after a turn. Really watch the crosswalk after the turn and try not to be leaned over when you hit that one. Oh, watch the pedestrian in the black jeans and the dark hoodie while you are at it.
  • Try not to make lane changes unless you have to and watch those lines and directional arrows before intersections.
  • Pay special attention to your lane position and visibility

Steel Stuff

  • Manhole covers – just say no – view them like little round patches of ice. If you have to cross them, be as upright as possible – not leaned.
  • Ditto for those metal plates they often have in construction zones
  • Railway tracks – hit them at as close to 90 degrees as possible or they will want to take your wheel for a slide

Puddles

  • Nothing more fun than blasting through a puddle and making that big splash…unless that puddle is really an 8 inch deep pothole. Better just say no to puddles too.
  • If you know the road and there is a big puddle that just has your name on it,” git ‘er done” but beware of the effects of hydroplaning.

Other slippery stuff

  • The first rain after a period of no rain is the worst one for bringing that slippery oil film to the surface. This is particularly prevalent near intersections where cars may stand, idle, and drip oil
  • Stay away from the center strip of the lane since that is where the oil drips in highest concentration (even though it does run to the low point on the lane during a rainstorm)
  • The first hour of the rain is often the witching hour – be doubly careful or try not to ride
  • In general, ride as upright as possible. There will be plenty of sunny days to lean, turn, and weave.

Have a look at some of the hazards found during a 20 minute ride in the rain:

There is no question that riding on wet, dark, rainy days brings more hazards into play but you can still ride safely and confidently.

If you are not comfortable with the conditions and your abilities in those conditions then don’t ride. Lock up your scooter, put a cover over it, and find another way to get safely to work. Don’t put yourself at risk when you don’t have to. Going joyriding in these conditions is asking for trouble.

Even though our temperatures are relatively mild here in Victoria, cold pavement and cold tires are going to be slippery. It doesn’t have to be below freezing out for ice or frost to be a hazard on the roadways.

Other things that may help:

  • Grippier tires formulated to be better in wet conditions. Usually a softer compound that can wear quicker put the performance differences can be amazing. You probably have shoes that you know are your slippery shoes and your grippy shoes. Scooter and motorcycle tires can be a lot the same that way.
  • Heated grips could probably be an option too. Ask at a local scooter shop.
  • Additional LED lights

Check out these YouTube videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrh6vIBSNaA Part 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Boewtc97UZA&NR=1 Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3aaTKRElDw&NR=1 Part 3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqKzonpNn2c&feature=related Part 4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrtFHwvTrW4&feature=related Part 5

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3 Comments »

  • Michael Stevulak said:

    One of our friends, Bruce Kennedy, from the Oak Bay department in Victoria just reminded us that you cannot add lights to your scooter or motorcycle with reckless abandon – there are laws governing lights on vehicles.
    In British Columbia, the Motor Vehicle Act regulations are quite restrictive on what lights can be on a vehicle.
    Most riders prefer as many lights as possible but, depending on the types and placement, you do open yourself up to enforcement action if the lights you add are not authorized in the regulations.

  • Double Headboard · said:

    steel belted motorcylce tires last very long and they do not slip on wet roads ‘

  • Adler said:

    Nice helpful info. I will subscribe your web site. Thnx. keep up the nice work

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