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 Motorcycle Safety
 Sharing of Lessons Learned
 Riding in rain
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Male Junior Member
58 Posts

New Castle, DE



Posted - 03/03/2012 :  8:37 PM                       Like
I miscalculated the weather yesterday and wound up riding in fairly heavy rain for a couple of hours. This was the first time since I got back into riding a couple of years ago, and I never rode in the rain the first time around. Based on what I'd read on this board I knew enough to be extra smooth and that so long as I didn't make any excessive demands on traction things would be OK. I figure I'm about halfway through the useful life of my tires and I'd checked the pressure and condition the night before so no worries there either. I did learn some useful things, though.

Riding in rain in daylight is better than riding in rain at night.

Water on the front of the windshield is better than water on both sides, particularly with oncoming traffic in the dark. My aftermarket windshield seems more resistant to the up-and-over effect than the OEM windshield, plus I had a piece of 1/4" hose I'd slit lengthwise and slid over the top of the windshield and that helped too. Still, low pressure on the back of the windshield sucks some rain back onto it.

I'm too short to see over the windshield in any position so I couldn't adjust it to see over it. Standing on the pegs helped a couple of times, plus the wind blew the rain off my visor.

The windshield quits shedding water after enough road grime gets on it, from oncoming and overtaking traffic. Be prepared to clean it from time to time.

Putting the visor up on my FF (for defogging) gets water on both sides of the faceshield, which requires stopping in a dry area to fix, because the helmet has to come off (as do wet gloves). Water on both sides of the windshield and both sides of the faceshield in the dark with oncoming traffic is SCARY.

Most of the roads I was on, particularly when it was darkest (like no streetlights for the last 5 miles dark) had reflectors on the yellow lines. They were really useful since the painted lines were totally invisible.

My gear is not waterproof (surprise!). It's OK for a half hour or so; the first thing to feel wet was my lap. By the time I got home, the only part of me that was dry was my feet. Sidi On-Road boots rock! I had on wool socks so even if my boots had leaked I'd have been better off than with cotton socks.

Grip Puppies, being made of sponge, hold water. I was doomed to have wet hands no matter what but suspect this made the situation worse than it might have been.

When I got home and found out how wet I really was, I was glad it had been cold when I left so I'd had my heated gear on. I cranked it up, plus the grips and seat, and it kept me warm. I dodged an opportunity to get hypothermia.

By the time I got close enough to civilization that getting out of it for a while was a practical alternative (dinner in wet clothes or get a room), the rain had pretty much quit.

James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17292 Posts

Houston, TX


GoldWing 1500

Posted - 03/03/2012 :  8:56 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I feel for you having been in the same circumstance several times in my career.

That you got your head on straight and did not freak out with this new experience, and used reasonable technique to deal with it is a major kudo in your behalf. Bravo!

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Male Moderator
1484 Posts

Evanston, IL



Posted - 03/03/2012 :  11:25 PM
I won't ride in the rain after dark looking through the windscreen. If I couldn't replace it, I'd cut it down. Being able to look just over the screen allows a pretty good view as the screen deflects air and water higher, providing a small fairly clear area just above it.

Taking a long enough ride without exceptional gloves will result in wet hands. Dry is best, wet and warm is okay but wet and cold is dangerous. Heated gear helps a lot.

I rode from Maine to Chicago last September in two days of rain and the only real problem was my tollway transponder died, making dry hands impossible. Good gear takes care of things.
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Male Advanced Member
802 Posts

Lansdale, PA


Sprint GT

Posted - 03/04/2012 :  7:54 AM
I'm glad you got through your rainy ride safely.

It is my opinion that you unnecessarily found yourself in an unfamiliar situation a good distance from home, necessitating an overly stressful ride.

While riding in the rain isn't by any means fun, I think every rider should occasionally take advantage of a rainy day and go out and do PLP and take at least a short ride over different road types so that they are prepared when they find themselves in your situation. It is far better, in my opinion, to learn how the bike handles and how your gear functions in a semi controlled environment close to home, rather than find out the hard way that your helmet fogs, you can't see over or through your windshield, your gear leaks etc.

Just my 2 cents.
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Advanced Member
6884 Posts

Pleasanton, CA


990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 03/04/2012 :  10:27 AM
You mentioned opening the face shield for defogging. Was that all the way open?

Shoei helmets, at least, can open less than half an inch, which works well for defogging, but doesn't let water through. Of course, I don't exactly have a lot of wet riding experience having done most of my riding in California where rain and dry weather are easy to predict.
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Male Junior Member
58 Posts

New Castle, DE



Posted - 03/04/2012 :  5:47 PM
Scott, I was using a Shoei Qwest with the Pinlock shield. The Pinlock system is far superior to anything else I've used, but after a while (depending on temperature and humidity) any helmet will fog up. Friday it lasted about half an hour (mid-40's 100% humidity). Cracking it helped but the aerodynamics forced splatter into the 1/2" gap and into the middle of the eyeport.

kacinpa, I'd ridden up to a half hour before with no leaks, including a brief period of VERY heavy rain. The other day, everything was fine until the first drop got inside. So clearly gear that's good for a half hour is no guarantee it'll be good for longer.

I am looking into gear with better rain resistance. It seems there are plenty of options for my body. Not a big fan of impervious membranes (plastic/rubber and the like) because I feel I'll still get wet just from the inside out not the outside in.
I hear mixed reviews on Frogg Toggs (some say they're fabulous, others say they don't work at all) but for under $100 maybe they're worth a try. Gear with zip-in breathable liners can get really pricey. I think the hardest will be gloves, probably wind up with some overgloves. Anyone know of good waterproof gloves?
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Male Advanced Member
2260 Posts

colorado springs, co


CB750 NightHawk

Posted - 03/05/2012 :  3:32 AM
Originally posted by wbrownell9

(mid-40's 100% humidity).

I'd ridden up to a half hour before with no leaks, including a brief period of VERY heavy rain. The other day, everything was fine until the first drop got inside. So clearly gear that's good for a half hour is no guarantee it'll be good for longer.

I am looking into gear with better rain resistance. Anyone know of good waterproof gloves?

That temp and humidity make it seem like you got the worst of it as a test as per fogging.

As to the point of your rain practice you mention and as recommended by kacinpa; My thoughts exactly. A bit of testing, practice and trial-error will give you some great basis of impressions but certainly not a 1:1 like a longer ride our tour where the water run-off or soak test begins. Great points though and especially clicked with me on considering nightime rain practice excursions.

If you do some searching here in posts and threads of the past, you'll find some good info regarding rain riding skills and input from others on gear that works. I do a fair amount of searches for "test reviews" of gear and come up with lots of good links and reading off a search engine.
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Male Senior Member
256 Posts

Sevenoaks, Kent
United Kingdom


GSA 90 Anniversary

Posted - 06/20/2012 :  8:26 PM
Well done on braving out the conditions.

Best tip I've had for riding in the rain is a product for putting a wax-like coating on the visor so the rain drops don't obscure your vision. I won't ride without it, keeping a small bottle and rag with the bikes at all times. If I can't see properly I won't ride. There are many products on the market and even some homemade ones. The one I use is Nikwax Visor Proof. Lot's of Europe is frequently very very rainy, even in summer, so it's essential kit for where I live.

There are times, in hot climates, when I actually like a good downpour and feel the bike has better traction than on dirty, dry, dusty, oily, summer roads. I always try to wait out the first 20 mins of rain after a dry spell though to avoid 'Florida Ice'. I experienced this recently on a vacation in the Sunshine State, it was incredibly spectacular and scary seeing tens of vehicles slide of the road in front of us. We pulled into a rest stop waited half and hour and then got going and normal service was resumed, but with a lot of recovery trucks on their way for those caught out.


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Male Standard Member
135 Posts

Littleton, CO


Shadow Spirit 750

Posted - 07/11/2012 :  3:59 PM
Up until recently I was working out at the Denver International Airport, and I got stuck in some pretty gnarly rainstorms myself... My Scorpion EXO does ok in the rain, but it doesn't open just a little unless you flip out the little visor stop on the left side. I just wish it would open that distance all the way across instead of just the half...

In any case, I too found the information here more than helpful for rain riding. Before I bought my scoot, I used to lurk this website obsessively because I had some fear mixed in with my excitement of havnig just passed my MSF test and getting my M. The easy handling paired with no acceleration in corners and giving myself plenty of room to stop has served me well. Again, Mr Davis, you have saved me!!!
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