Monsoon special: Tips for riding safe in the rains
While riding in the rain is enjoyed by some and loathed by most, riding in the wet can be a tricky business. To survive the rains, here are some tips and trick that might come in handy.
Being aware of your surroundings will go a long way in riding safe in the rains. Keep any eye out for potholes and puddles, which can be bigger and deeper than you thought or there could be an open manhole under the water surface. Avoid oil slicks that are extremely slippery. Keep your eyes on the road at all times, and avoid distractions. White lane markers, cat’s eyes, or shiny surfaces are extremely slippery when wet.
Ensure you have maximum visibility at all times. Wear a helmet with a clear visor and wipe it clean at regular intervals. Ensure that you are visible to other road users. Riding at night in the rains means reduced visibility so ride slow. Clean your headlamps, tail lamps and indicators before you set off. Reflectors on your rain wear and bike will make you more visible in the dark.
A relaxed riding posture is ideal for long hauls as well from the perspective of safety. Do not grip the handlebars tightly and keep your elbows slightly bent for easier maneuvering of the bike.
Smoothness is the key, whether it is accelerating, braking or cornering. Sudden inputs break traction. Use the front brake discreetly in the wet. Always keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead as braking in the wet takes longer distance. Do not brake during cornering, or use the rear brake. Accelerating hard will mean loss of traction to the rear wheel, especially on a powerful bike, in the wet. Accelerate and roll off the throttle smoothly. Ride slow as wet roads mean less traction and increased braking distances. Do not go around corners on a closed throttle as this leaves the bike with minimal grip and no cornering forces acting on it. Finish braking before entering a corner and accelerate gradually into a corner to unload the front suspension. Keep a constant speed or smoothly accelerate out of the corner.
Other road users
Always keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle ahead as braking takes longer, and to avoid being sprayed by muck from the vehicle’s tyres. Use your turn indicators and get off the road to stop. Anticipate the movements of other road users. Riding in the rains can be an enjoyable experience if you have the proper riding gear like water proof jackets, riding pants and touring boots.
Good waterproof riding gear will ensure that you remain dry and comfortable so you are not distracted. And riding gear will protect you in an accident.
Waterproof jacket: Invest in a waterproof riding jacket preferably a few sizes larger so you can and wear your riding jacket under it. Make sure that the jacket has enough reflective strips so that you are visible to other road users. A bright coloured jacket is best.
Riding pants: Waterproof riding pants or kneepads under waterproof pants.
Gloves: Protect your hands with waterproof riding gloves.
Boots: Ankle length riding boots will keep your feet dry, warm and protected.
Helmet: Invest in a full-face helmet with a clear visor. Replace scratched visor immediately. Use reflective tape on the front and back of the helmet to ensure visibility.