I've recently returned to biking after a 2 year layoff. This glorious Scottish summer weather has highlighted a pretty serious problem with my confidence.
On dry roads I feel fine, following what I consider to be a pretty good line, riding smoothly through the bends but on wet roads this all goes to pot and I seem to have very little confidence in the bike's ability to lean and corner in the wet. I just can't shake the thought the tyres are going to lose grip. Not riding quickly doesn't bother me as much as the fact when it's wet, fear of the road surface is spoiling my enjoyment of the ride.
Now I've done loads of riding before on poor road conditions. In the past I've commuted 100 miles a day all year round, toured all over Europe and have worked as a courier and instructor but now as soon as it rains, I feel like a complete novice again.
Any tips I should work on to overcome this? Does it boil down to just doing the miles and getting over it or should I be looking at advanced training perhaps?
You need to get used to tyres moving about a bit more on the road than you're used to on the dry. Then try to set your brain to this being normal and not hit the brakes. You'll probably notice the slipperyness most on junctions. Mostly I'd say just don't make so many big sudden changes of speed and direction, and get used to the feel of the bike moving about a bit - odd at first but you get used to it.
Crappy brown spray from lorrt wheels smearing your visor is 10 times the problem grip is...
It's not so much the wet road itself, as good tyres on good wet tarmac have plenty of grip - if, as Wasabi says, moving around a bit more. But things which normally wouldn't matter too much - metal studs / drain covers, diesel / oil splashes, mud on country lanes, white lines (especially in some French towns) can be very slippery in the rain.
Couple this with the reduced vision and it can get tricky. As always, observation and responding correctly to what you see / feel are the keys.
For me riding in the wet is all about gears and reading the road ahead well to avoid having to make any sudden or unexpected adjustments... being in the right gear helps stabilise the bike and avoid unnecessary use of the brakes... thus keeping everything nice and smooth...
I much prefer full wet to damp roads... theres plenty of grip there as long as you adjust to it....
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"Force has no place where there is need of skill" Herodotus 450BC :burnout:
Long time no see, hows things??
Only advice I can give is smooth everything out on wet roads, look well ahead and get back out and gain experience again.
Shouldn't be too hard with oor wet weather.
It will all come back once you get a bit of miles under your belt again.
That's a good article on it, Kevin. I'm still working on getting my riding back to be as smooth and natural as it used to be and maybe that's part of the problem as well. 2 years off and a completely different bike (VFR800 instead of my old XJ900F) are having a bigger effect than I expected!
Gordon, long time no see indeed! You still instructing? Not been over to The Kingdom for a bit now but I should make a point of it some time as there are some great roads around there.
Yup still up at same place
Went to Cardington 18 mnths ago for the 3 day assessment, so das now.
Still enjoying working now and again, although don't do much over summer as eats into my own riding time.
If you are over this way one weekend, give me a shout or drop into Pscot.
Teuchter wrote (see)
Some riders are just better at jumping on anything and feeling at home with it instantly, I have to say I'm not - I generally need a few hundred and sometimes a few thousand miles under my belt before I begin to get confident on a new machine, particularly when I've had one machine for a long time. I don't know how that applies to you.
I've not ridden an XJ900, but from my experience of similar era bikes, I'd imagine it's chalk and cheese with the VFR. The latest VTEC VFRs handle better than the earlier ones IMO but I'd say tyre choice affects them - I rode one on Michelins recently and it felt a bit "tippy" as it went from upright to lean, as if it was keen to go straight to full lean which was a bit disconcerting. I could adapt to it, but I imagine in the wet that could feel a bit worrying.
Sometimes lack of wet confidence can be laid firmly at the tyres. I've got Dunlop Roadsmarts on the XJ6 at the moment, and part-worn the rear tramlines badly. I know what's happening in the dry, so it's no big deal, but I rode in the wet for the first time the other day (well, first streaming wet day) and I'd forgotten about the tramlining, so when the rear appeared to slide at a very moderate lean angle half way round a bend, it took a moment to recover confidence in the tyre whilst I remembered this was the tyre reacting to the road surface and not letting go.
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