Advanced Riding Course: Wet Weather Rain Tips

Advanced riding tips to help you improve your wet weather motorcycle riding skills

Posted: 3 November 2008
by Jon Urry

With the help of James Whitham, who admits that "the only way I used to go fast in the wet was to follow the guy in front of me, and then try to go a bit quicker," read, digest, adjust your tyre pressures accordingly and go for a nuclear ride this weekend.

How to ride fast ride in the wet

Staying smooth is the key. Your braking and throttle openings should be considered and much more gradual than in the dry. This avoids the chances of spinning the rear or losing the front. On the way into corners, brake in a straight line and build up pressure as the front tyre squashes into the road. On the way out, feed throttle in as the bike approaches upright and be prepared for it to spin a little.

Where you ride in the road is critical in the wet. You'll find the roughest, grippiest tarmac in the middle of the road where the cars don't wear it down, while slick, shiny stuff is as slippy as ice. Junctions and corners with Shellgrip (the light-coloured tacky stuff) is as grippy as normal tarmac in the dry. If you have to panic-brake, load the front as gradually as you can before piling on the anchors.

You'll be amazed what you can get away with. Some people like to drop their tyre pressures by 2-5psi front and rear, but the trade-off is that the bike's handling will be compromised and there is an argument that dropping pressures actually stops the tyre clearing water as effectively.

How to wheelie in the wet

Exactly the same as wheelying in the dry, but the clutch-up approach is more likely to fail as large lumps of power will cause the back end to break away. Therefore you're better off using power in 1st gear to get the front up.

Assuming you know how to wheelie already, click it into 2nd as she rises up as per normal, and keep the rear wheel on the more coarse tarmac. If she starts spinning at the rear, all that will happen is that the front will plonk back down to ground, so overall there's very little drama.

Using race wet tyres on the road

Not legal, but the chances of getting a tug for these incredibly grippy, hugely-treaded wet-weather monsters is slim. For our cover shoot we used a set of monsoon-spec Michelins, which allowed James to bury his knee in one-inch of water on sodden ground.

The bike feels horrible in the dry, the tyre-blocks move all over the place, and the rear tyre will shred within 400 miles on a big sportsbike if it isn't raining. But no tyre on earth warms up as quickly or gives you as much security in the wet.

And getting your knee down

Even with Michelin monsoon tyres fitted, you still need a fair modicum of skill to pull this off. Whitham was circulating for about five minutes to warm the rubber before cutting right into the wet stuff. The front pushed hard several times on overbanding, but the tread blocks of the front tyre are designed to re-grip as they distort. James was hanging right off the bike, but the knee was going down and staying down.

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Discuss this story

Wanted to say this is a great article, some useful tips for those who need em, and I frankly can't wait to try riding with wets, especially on the track.

Riding my ZX6R F3 at Brands on Pirelli Supercorsas (the ones with 1.5" of slick on the edges) in the wet; I got my knee down a few times round Druids, which was a shitload of fun!

A bit unnerving cos as soon as the tyres reach the edge of tread thats it, you can lean no further, so its a little bit hairy but thats what we love innit!

Happy riding all!

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 13:18

Did a tyre test with the old chap yesterday. Watching him riding about in the wet on standard tyres was amazing. Look out for it in next months issue of TWO

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 15:48

How about inviting us?

Subscribers only, of course.

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 16:24

manofiran wrote (see)

How about inviting us?

Subscribers only, of course.

Good call

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 16:36

R1 loon wrote (see)
Good call

Welcome back, I thought you'd got stuck in a loop on that Celebrity thread.

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 16:49

manofiran wrote (see)
R1 loon wrote (see)
Good call

Welcome back, I thought you'd got stuck in a loop on that Celebrity thread.

There's a blonde bird on there with big tits

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 16:57

Thank fuck this was about tyres...i was not sure given the title.

Posted: 19/11/2008 at 22:03

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