Safe motorcycling in the rain is something all riders should strive to achieve. Such safety is as much a mindset as it is to do with equipment however. When riding in the wet, one needs to plan that bit further ahead and ride at speeds that are generally lower than you may be comfortable at when riding in the dry.
Firstly, let’s look at your bike. Are the brakes adjusted properly with approximately 60% braking on the front and 40% braking to the rear wheel? By having this adjustment made correctly, as you apply the brakes you will be less liable to having the rear wheel lock up with a subsequent loss of control.
This is equally important when riding in the dry as some road surfaces may still be slippery. While checking the brakes, are the pads or brake shoes in good condition and have plenty use left in them? If not, change them.
Next, you should check your tyres. Do they have plenty of tread? If the tyres are worn down with little tread left on them, not only may they be illegal for use, but they will not have the best water handling properties either. The gaps in the tread allow for water to exit away from the tyre helping to prevent aquaplaning, vital when riding in the rain. If the tyres are past their best a change may be the best safety improvement you can make.
Have a good look around the bike to make sure no oil is dripping down around the tyres or brake surfaces. If you use a Scott oiler or similar, make sure it is working properly. Any oil that makes its way to your tyre will show itself in the most severe way by making you slide in the wet. Chain driven bikes are most prone to this danger.
Make sure all lights and your horn are working properly as visibility in the rain is reduced and motorbikes are hard to see in the best conditions let alone in the pouring rain. Also make sure you are either wearing a Hi-viz waistcoat or some other reflective material because although you are doing everything you can to make yourself safe this is negated if other road users can not see you.
Most importantly, look to your mindset when riding in the rain. As previously mentioned, your speed needs to be adjusted to meet the more dangerous conditions. Also, your braking distance will be longer than it is in the dry so plan to slow down or stop earlier than you would if it were not raining. Assume all turns, bends and corners will be harder to negotiate in the wet and approach them accordingly.
Be even more aware of other motorists and your surroundings. Car drivers do not have to take so many precautions when driving in the rain so do not let their complacency bring you into danger. Keep a good eye on the road surface as spilt oil, drain covers, cat’s eyes and any other non tarmac surface you are riding on will become more slippery when riding over them in the wet.
Ride sensibly, ride safely and be seen.