15 Tips for Motorcycle Riding in the Rain

RainyMotorcycleRidingTipsSome people love riding in the rain, and others hate it. What it comes down to is your mindset: it can be an interesting challenge, or a terrifying trip down Slippery Lane. One thing I actually like about riding in the rain is that it requires you to stay calm and be smooth, good things to practice for any kind of riding. So if you’re the type who hangs up your helmet when the weather turns bleak, take a look at our advice for riding in wet weather — you might find that, with a few adjustments to your technique and some tricks with your gear, motorcycling in the rain ain’t no big thing.

  1. Don’t trust puddles. That fun-looking mini-pond of splashable joy could be hiding a foot-deep pothole, or who knows what else. If you can’t avoid riding through a puddle, hold the throttle steady, keep the bike upright, and don’t touch the brakes.
  2. Avoid shiny-smooth surfaces. Surfaces that are kind of slippery on dry days become perilously slippery in the rain. Stay off of things like painted lines, manhole covers, metal plates, and even tar snakes. If you do find yourself caught on one of these, avoid hard braking or acceleration — just roll over it without any sudden inputs.
  3. Keep your cool. Stay relaxed, and don’t make any sudden moves. Harsh, abrupt acceleration, braking, or steering can quickly eat up your limited traction. Make all your inputs smooth and gentle. If you have to brake hard, do it progressively: slowly squeeze the lever at first, to load the front tire and compress the suspension, then gradually increase force until you’ve slowed enough.
  4. Do one thing at a time. In normal conditions, we often combine several actions at once, such as accelerating, shifting, or trail braking while turning. In the rain, focus on separating these actions (i.e., finish your deceleration before you turn into a corner). That will reduce the traction demands on your tires.
  5. Loosen up. Clinging to the bars with a death grip will do three bad things: a) tire you out faster, b) exaggerate the effects of any movements you make, and c) keep your suspension from working as it should. Remember that your bike is designed to handle small bumps and wiggles, so let it do its job.
  6. Rainbows are not your friend. Those magical, colorful swirls are just slippery oil pools of death. Do not aim for the rainbows. They tend to be worst at intersections, where vehicles sit for a while and leak oily puddles, so be extra careful when you’re stopping at or crossing through intersections.
  7. Give yourself time and space. Take it easy. Reduce your speed, and put more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Braking distances are much longer in the rain, and you can’t count on having traction when you need it. Plus, you need time to scan the road ahead and choose your lines, so you can avoid all the wonderful things we mentioned above.
  8. Find a dry line. When available, try riding in the tire tracks of vehicles in front of you. A car’s wheel can act like a plow, pushing water on the road out of the way for a brief moment. Soak up that dry pavement while you can!
  9. Dry gear isn’t enough. Waterproof gear is great and all, but visible waterproof gear is even better. Remember that rain makes it even harder than usual for cars to see you. If your rain gear is all black, invest in a hi-vis vest or other reflective accessories.
  10. Orange is the new clear. Well, orange and yellow, actually. Try using a face shield in one of these colors to increase contrast in poor visibility conditions. An anti-fog or Pinlock shield is a plus. One Twisted staffer uses the same wax that he polishes his bike with to keep droplets off his visor.
  11. Consider wearing goggles. A couple of Twisted staffers found a way to avoid fogging face shields completely: they switched to dual-sport helmets and goggles. For off-road or dual-sport riding in the rain, one of the guys wears clear safety glasses instead of goggles, as the glasses fog even less.
  12. Be handy with gloves. A few key tips: If your gloves are wet, don’t take them off unless you absolutely have to. Wet gloves get cold very fast once they’re removed. Also, have a towel to dry your hands in case they get wet, as wet hands do not slide easily into gloves.
  13. Stand up for yourself. In heavy rain, water will often pool in your lap, and if left too long, it may seep past the zipper (even on some top brands of gear — ever heard of ‘Stich Crotch?). It’s not a bad idea to stand up on the pegs now and then, to clear the rain from your lap.
  14. Gore-Tex socks are the best thing ever. If you don’t have the budget for Gore-Tex socks, try wool ones, especially Merino. Even if your feet get wet, wool socks will keep them warm. That goes for your base layers, too. Compression layers help even more, and heated gear is super cozy.
  15. Ziploc everything you care about.

Above all, remember to have fun playing in the rain!

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29 Comments on "15 Tips for Motorcycle Riding in the Rain"

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David
Guest
3 years 6 months ago

Great riding tips and well written. Thanks! Are there goggles for those of us who wear glasses?

Frank Campbell
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Frank Campbell
3 years 6 months ago

Great article.
Anyone know of truly “waterproof” motorcycles gloves?
I’ve tried about every brand of gloves thus advertised, only to end up with wet and cold hands after a while.

Kevin Iveson
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Kevin Iveson
3 years 5 months ago

Wear surgical gloves under your rideing gloves.Keeps hands warm and dry.We use them for Moto Cross when raining and cold,

Trey Conte
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Trey Conte
3 years 5 months ago

The key to keeping your hands dry in the rain is to put your glove gaunlets on the inside of your coat sleeves. When on the outside the water runs right down your sleeves and into your gloves, gortex or not.

daniel j tadrick
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

I always carry a couple pairs of latex gloves. Put them on first then your leather gloves Hands stay dry while leather gets wet.

al banta
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al banta
3 years 6 months ago

Thanks!

edward cleary
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edward cleary
3 years 6 months ago

Great tips

Paul Young
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Paul Young
3 years 5 months ago

Hello Jessica,
Paul from your motorcycle gear store. I owned the Repsol in Pasadena.
I own a Repsol SP now!
Bought a new waterproof one piece and now I know how to clear my Lap.
Hope Your well.

David B.
Guest
David B.
3 years 5 months ago

Great synopsis! Last week, I road my GS 2.5 hours from Poconos to home in Delaware in a torrential downpour the entire trip: and had a super ride. My ‘stitch needs rewaxing (or whatever Aerostich does), so I was wet neck to ankles. But, my heated gear and woolen socks kept me warm. The advice on the yellow tinted shield is an awesome idea and one I could have better heeded. I will order one ASAP.
Godspeed,
Bo

Brad
Guest
Brad
3 years 5 months ago

Great tips. Love the rain. Freeway after rain with oily must kicking up from caters and trucks are the big challenge for my face shield.

Roys D. Andrews
Guest
Roys D. Andrews
3 years 5 months ago

Great ideas and suggestions, however if you do not have to travel in the rain why do it. Water is like putting ice on all surfaces so any speed above 30 mph
Is a gamble against the odds of you arriving safely.
Take back roads instead of freeways if you must travel.
Dirt gravel roads are extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

Don De Lotto Jr
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

Hello, i would like to mention roads you have ridden on for years may have changed due to new construction. New water is coming from a drive way & can cause hydroplaining. I ride a large bike. A Goldwing,& the water slid the bike a full lane. A harrowing memory I will never forget.
Please be aware of your surroundings like riding next to a tractor trailer in the rain.
Thanks enjoy the ride,
DD

An All Weather Rider
Guest
An All Weather Rider
3 years 5 months ago
Once the weather turns wet, it becomes impossible to get your clammy hands into your gloves. Those inner fabric liners stick to your skin like glue, and no amount of finesse or force will help. Toweling your hands dry is a good idea, but it doesn’t work very well in real life, because the slightest moisture from the air gets on your hands after the toweling. Besides, all it takes is a tiny bit of moisture in the glove lining for it to do its sticky thing. The towel gets damp, too. Don’t worry, there is a simple solution: 100%… Read more »
Walt
Guest
Walt
1 year 2 months ago

Many years ago when I was flying we always had silk inner gloves as the hands did not sweat and freeze. At high altitude and under a high workload that was a problem.

Marcus
Guest
Marcus
3 years 5 months ago

Slow down.

Roux de Waal
Guest
Roux de Waal
3 years 5 months ago

When the road gets muddy drop tyre pressure to .8 bar or even lower.

John
Guest
John
3 years 5 months ago
Great comments. Getting my motorcycle license in Germany (military family) I rode in the rain on slippery cobblestones a lot. The 2 second rule of distance behind the vehicle in front turns to 4 seconds for me in the rain. The shimmering road surface becomes a mirror like and you can see brake lights from the cars in front of that transport that you are behind reflected off the road for quicker reactions to stopped or stopping vehicles. Shift your weight to the inside to keep the bike more upright (you don’t have top hang off like the GP riders).… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Mark
3 years 5 months ago
Hi Jess, good article, great follow up by other readers too. Only thing I might add to the mix is doing traction checks by picking a no traffic section of wet road and perform an intentional real wheel lock up. If you can brake moderately and build presure til the rear wheel starts to slide a little, it can give you a sense of how much traction you have to play with. This would be with the bike travelling straight and upright. I’m a big fan of intentional “just for fun” rain rides on snotty back roads with little to… Read more »
Sean McCormick
Guest
Sean McCormick
3 years 5 months ago

I like to squeeze the brakes a little after going thru a puddle just to squeeze the water out from between the rotor and the pads. Better then than when you have to brake in an emergency.

Chris
Guest
Chris
3 years 5 months ago
Over the years I’ve done alot of riding in the rain and tried a few pairs of waterproof gloves and have had the same problems mentioned when taking them off and not being able to put them back on if your hands get wet. I then found the perfect solution when browsing a Bass Pro shops. http://www.basspro.com/Bass-Pro-Shops-Neoprene-Fishing-Gloves/product/73534/ NEOPRENE GLOVES! They have fold over finger and thumb if you need to do detail work when stopped or if you need your whole hand you can take them off and put them back on without any issue. They’re also warm when wet.… Read more »
JerryG
Guest
3 years 5 months ago

My REV’IT! Phantom GTX Gloves work great in the rain, but I have to put the gauntlets tight inside the sleeve of my Stich Transit Jacket to prevent drainage into the gloves. I also need to implement the silk glove liner; thanks my passing on that idea. When I need more, I switch to Gerbing heated gloves covered by Stich Triple digit (Rain) Covers.

Peter
Guest
Peter
3 years 5 months ago

Jessica, did you know that in the photo of the rider in the parking lot on the blue V Strom is giving us the finger?

Nick
Guest
Nick
3 years 5 months ago

I rode in England for five years so riding in the rain is something you learn how to do fairly quickly. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is there is a company who makes a small rubber squeegee that slips over your index finger so you can use it like a small windshield wiper…very handy.
Also, if it’s real heavy rain you might want to run with your hazard lights on.

Deedee Lewis
Guest
Deedee Lewis
2 years 8 months ago

I really like your tip about taking easy and reducing your speed when riding your motorbike in the rain. My dad will, sometimes, take his motorcycle out for a ride in the rain and is always sure to take precautions since he knows it’ll be slippery. I will share the rest of these riding in the rain tips with my dad.

Friendly Rider
Guest
2 years 5 months ago

The rainbow part made me laugh, but it’s totally true. Don’t get distracted by rainbows guys!
Drive defensively.

Reona Miles
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Great discussions and tips! May it be driving on a sunny or a rainy day, safety should comes first. Keep safe!

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