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Do you like riding in the wet?  Are you a "quick" wet weather rider... or a cautious one?  Wet weather riding requires high levels of concentration and precision, but is immensely rewarding when you gain confidence in doing it.  The simple fact is that some riders will be more than happy to adjust their riding in wet conditions and accept they will be slower, or in some cases, just not go out at all when the road is wet or it is raining!  Some folk won't stray out when there is even a forecast of potential rain...

But riding in the wet IS fun!  Here are some thoughts which draw on a longer article by wet weather veteran Mark Burns that might be of help.

This article is for those who would like to improve their riding when it rains, or when the road is wet. So what are the potential limitations when riding in the wet ? The reality is that there are very few - all of the factors which may potentially affect our pace in wet conditions are all controllable by the rider.

The single most important part of our motorcycle in the quest for grip are our tyres, and, thankfully, nearly every modern motorcycle tyre is capable of a high level of grip. Compared to tyres of a couple of decades ago, modern tyres have excellent wet weather grip.  In discussion with a police accident investigator, it was stated that on wet roads a modern bike tyre has around 90% of the grip available from a dry road... providing there are no contaminants

So, the message here is that, as a start point, your tyres have a lot of grip available in the wet.

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Modern tyres give excellent levels of grip but you do need to ensure that the tread has some remaining depth to it (to shift the water)... and they need to be maintained at the right pressure.  How often do you check your pressures?  Do you know what the manufacturers (tyre and bike) recommend?  Manufacturers spend a huge amount of time and money developing your bike... do your bit by ensuring the pressure is as specified on every ride.

Given that tyres are probably up there as one of the most important parts of the motorcycle we ride when it comes to riding in the wet, what else will affect our potential performance when riding on a wet road ? 

Suspension - it keeps the tyre in contact with the road and must be in good condition.  If you have a leaking shock absorber, worn bushes, wrongly adjusted dampers, or on modern bikes, inappropriate suspension mode settings, expect the tyre grip to be reduced.  Tyres grip when in consistent contact with the road.  If they leave the tarmac, become "light" or "chatter", grip will reduce.  So look after your suspension.

So, we have a bike with the right tyres fitted, at the right pressure, and the bike is serviceable with all of the component parts working as intended... what's left to affect potential performance in the wet?

Yes, you're right, the rider... YOU!  The single most important factor on the bike at any time!

So how are some riders more comfortable than others in the wet?  The single most influential factor is confidence... its in the mind in other words!

So how do you get more confidence in the wet? The first thing to say is that over-confidence is a danger, so growing your confidence should be done gradually, with help and support, and with lots of practice.  If you take too big a leap forward, propmpting a "moment", then your confidence will be set back - one step forward, two back!

The start point for improving confidence is using the System of Motorcycle Control - IPSGA - its the foundation stone that all our riding is built on, and wet riding is no different.

Information - as well as your "usual" scanning for hazards, road conditions, etc.  be particularly aware of road contamination (mud, diesel, gravel, other substances) which will reduce grip.  Take care where there is standing water - what could be in it (hole, mud, etc.).  How are other road users responding to the conditions - their speed and position will undoubtedly change.

Position - change your line in bends to minimise the radius of turn - consider adjusting your position for grip and safety.  When following traffic, extend the "2 Second" Rule to three or more seconds.

Speed - lose speed more gradually, brake earlier and more gently.  Use throttle sense to avoid excessive braking. Look as far ahead as you can (as usual!) to pre-empt the need to change speed or position (as usual!).

Gear - you may wish to take a higher gear if your machine will alow it - higher gears give lower traction forces at the tyre-road inrterface and mean a lesser chance of breaking grip, and slipping.

Acceleration or Action - gently does it.  You may have traction control and other electronic aids, but there's no substitute for the careful application of throttle, or brakes, by the Thinking Rider!

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So in summary, don't make extreme inputs to the controls, accelerate and brake progressively - the same goes for changing direction.  Smooth is always best... in other words, APPLY THE SYSTEM!.

Finally, get help and spend some time with a fellow SLAM Member discussing, practising and riding behind someone who can demonstrate a greater level of safe but progressive wet weather riding.  You might even think about booking in to the SLAM Ride Clinic!


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