Niall Mackenzie turns diviner to explain the secrets of riding in the wet. Soggy satisfaction
I used be of the opinion that riding in the rain is like going to work, I can do it but I don’t particularly want to. I couldn’t grasp where the enjoyment came from getting cold and wet while constantly thinking that my bike could disappear from under me without notice. In my first ever 500GP for Honda, I was devastated when I crashed three corners from the chequered flag while lying 3rd at a wet Suzuka. After I emptied my boots of gravel and stopped crying I made a promise to myself to do whatever was necessary to sort out my wet weather riding. It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually over the years I’ve come to enjoy the challenge.
As always, being prepared is the key and this time being warm and dry is essential. There is nothing worse than being soaked and freezing after five minutes of riding, so when I’m setting off for a lengthy jaunt this is the ritual that works for me.
My first layer of clothing is full thermals then, depending how cold it is, I’ll wear one more sleeved top, then my two-piece Wolf textile suit and a two-piece rain suit. I’ve had the same (inexpensive) two-piece Alpinestars waterproof suit for four years now, which is windproof, rainproof and equally importantly, flap proof. My free Visordown neck warmer goes over the head, then it’s thin socks, followed by Tesco bags, then another pair of thin socks keeping the tootsies warm and dry. I’ll then pull on some clear plastic gloves (free for you at fuel stations or if you happen to work as a customs inspector) then with my RST mitts.
Finally I’ll fit my yellow ’happy’ visor to brighten things up, which also fools my brain into making me cheerful, despite the dull conditions. Racers use these all the time and they really do work. Talking of visors, most now have an anti fog coating so I’d leave the inside well alone but Rain X works well on the outside. Also, should you have problems with water running down the inside and you can’t adjust your visor, try running a strip of tape along the top of the helmet to help it seal.
When it comes to road riding, apart from checking tyre pressures there is nothing I would change from a good dry riding set up. I’ve heard of riders reducing tyre pressures for the wet but I totally disagree as this will only let the tread ‘fold’ in and reduce water displacement. Standard pressures are best and there is always a chance the roads might dry up so regular suspension settings are also best.
Modern road tyres give incredible performance in the rain. And they work even better with some temperature so although it is more difficult to get them warm in the rain it is worth riding steady for six miles to help raise temperatures.
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I`d be carefull with changing to one finger braking if you are used to two. You tend to over compensate a bit and lose 'feel' and fine control because your one finger is working quite hard. I`d say stick with what you normally use but think 'smooth, smooth smooth' I treat wet riding as one continual movement, no sudden moves or changes. (dry riding too but you can get away with more!)
Just my 2p, what the hell do I know anyway!
Posted: 01/10/2010 at 13:23
Posted: 10/10/2010 at 16:17
1 finger or 2? my personal advice is get all 4 fingers over the lever, then choose to use 1, 2, 3 or all 4. if you leave any fingers back on the throttle-grip (where they are not needed unless you are very, very skilled, and racing!) then you will not be able to bring them in if more braking effort is needed (in an emergency, which could happen at any time). You could be trying to do an emergency stop with two fingers; and the brake lever will be squashing your other two fingers! = not good = not stopping = oh sh!t
Posted: 15/10/2010 at 19:39
Posted: 25/10/2010 at 17:18
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