When the April showers start coming down, they do more than just bring May flowers. For some riders, a rainy day means tucking the bike away until you get a dry, sunny day.
But don’t cheat yourself out of a really cool experience on your bike! Riding in the rain can be a lot of fun if you do it right. Here are some tips to stay safe when the weather gets wet:
Wear a one- or two-piece waterproof rainsuit over a few thin layers of additional waterproof gear. The layers will help keep you warm, and can be easily removed as needed. Waterproof gloves and boots are also very important.
Spend some time choosing the right gear. While a neck warmer and a pair of thick, warm gloves might seem great, both can be distracting while riding; a neck warmer will limit your head movement, and those bulky gloves will make it tough to operate the controls. Be sure to balance comfort with practicality.
Finally, make sure your helmet is equipped with an anti-fog visor, breath guard, or a visor with electric defrost. If your ride is early in the morning or later in the evening, make it a clear visor too.
You should alter the handling of your bike when road conditions get wet:
Smooth throttle adjustments in small increments
Use less lean angle
Gradually apply brakes, and brake early
Also bear in mind that oil residue may accumulate on roads during and after a rain, especially after an extended dry period. So, when it’s raining, avoid any ‘rainbows’ on the ground, because they are likely oil. Painted/reflective lines can also be treacherous when wet.
Use caution at intersections
Places where cars and trucks come to a stop have a higher concentration of oil, which can be difficult to see when riding. Don’t run yellow lights, and be sure to decrease your speed when approaching intersections to avoid any traction issues if you need to turn or brake quickly.
Double your distance behind cars in case they stop suddenly, and keep an eye on your rear-view mirrors when you’re stopped at a red light to check for cars that could slide into you.
Watch for manhole covers and sealer pavement
Manhole covers and sealer pavement are like black ice in the spring and summer. When it’s raining, they can greatly reduce your traction. Avoid them if you can. If you can’t, be sure to:
Travel in a straight line over them, so they pose less of a threat
Don’t brake or accelerate hard over them
Avoid any aggressive movements when rolling over them
If you have to turn or change your line, relax your hands on the clip-ons and don’t lean any more than is necessary
This is a disappointing rule, but it’s a smart one to live by. As fun as it is to ride through a puddle, the water hides the road’s surface from your vision. You could be riding through a shallow puddle, or a huge hole filled with rainwater. Finding out the hard way is no fun.
Find a dry line
This probably goes without saying, but some riders still ride in wet areas despite there being some dry land right next to them. Always try to place yourself in the driest part of the road for optimal traction and maneuverability.