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Top five safety tips when riding your bike in heavy rain

June 24, 2012

British summers aren’t exactly known for their consistently glorious weather. While we love to use the bad weather as a fun topic for grumbling conversation, heavy winds and rain can pose a serious threat for motorbike riders who are caught in a storm unaware. This also applies to the other side of the Channel, with forecasts leaping between heat wave and monsoon. Every rider worth their leathers should be able to handle themselves when the weather takes a turn for the worse, so here are a few tips to keep you safe when the heavens open.

Know the road

Forewarned is forearmed as the old saying goes, and this definitely applies when riding in bad weather. Visibility in heavy rain is seriously reduced, so being unfamiliar with the road surface and your surroundings could put you at risk. Painted road markings, metal surfaces and fresh tarmac are slippery when wet, and are much harder to detect in the rain. It helps if you know the route and what’s coming up so you don’t get any nasty surprises.

Warm is better than dry

Getting your gear wet isn’t ideal if you’re riding your motorbike in heavy rain, but it’s far more important to make sure that you stay warm. This is especially true when riding in Britain when the temperature likes to take a nose dive whenever the rain hits. If the cold gets to you when you’re out on your bike, your hands and feet are the first to suffer for it, meaning that you’re going to have slower reactions and less control of the bike. Make sure that you either wear an extra layer to keep you warm or invest in specialist thermal gear. Being wet is an inconvenience. Being cold is unsafe.

Shine on

With rain usually comes much denser cloud cover and mist, which all serve to reduce your visibility. Given that road conditions aren’t going to be favourable anyway, making sure that you are seen by other road users should be a top priority if you’re heading out into a storm on your bike. A high-vis vest should give oncoming vehicles ample warning that you are there, giving them time to adjust their own driving as you pass each other.

Relax

If the wind is blowing hard and trying to knock you this way and that, the best option is to clamp down, tense up and keep control of the bike, right? Wrong. Locking your muscles will only make things worse, as every twitch you make to compensate for the bad weather is amplified in the movement of the bike. It might seem counter intuitive, and it’s hard to override that natural instinct to tense up against the rain and wind, but loosening your muscles and maintaining a relaxed riding position will enable you to ride straight, brake and turn with ease.

Own the road

Give yourself plenty of space when you’re on the road, and do your best to stay clear of the edges. There’s a definite risk of aquaplaning and veering away from the centre of your lane, so give yourself as much space as possible to correct any mishaps. The last thing you want is to ride too close to any oncoming motorists who are also having trouble maintaining control. If you’re in a group, ride single file to keep as much distance either side of you as possible, especially when turning.

This post was written by Jamie Gibbs, the resident blogger for motorcycle insurance comparison site Confused.com.

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s proposed introduction of a compulsory annual environmental and road safety test for motorcycles and their continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations contre la proposition du gouvernement d’introduire un controle technique pour les 2 roues motorises ansi que de continuer a empecher la circulation inter files pour les motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

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3 Comments
  1. Graham Humpage permalink

    All good comments which are all 100% spot on. I say this whilst lounging pool side, 900 miles plus from home in southern France. Travelling from Edinburgh to the ferry in Hull ranged from sunshine to gale force torrential rain! My thoughts were That it was more of a challenge than enjoyment? Aqua planning on the M62 is not something I want to repeat too often, if ever again! At one point the bike moved freely from the central lane on to the hard shoulder before I had a chance! I dont know who had the biggest fright me or the following lorry driver? None the less, good distance and plenty of space saved the day. There is always another ferry and Hospital food never improves either side of the Channel. I am so glad I had my new yellow high viz jacket on – you could not see or be seen that well. It probably saved the day? I think the moto with long haul trips is don’t skimp on the assets and take advantage of every help saving gismoe you can have. It greatly reduces the odds of anything happening, because believe me it is only too certain that that you can be the innocent party to an accident without too much effort!
    All in all though it is still very much worth doing- and still another 900 plus miles to go!

  2. bob craven permalink

    Not exactly spot on . It says that its better to know the road unfortunatety that can lead to complaicancy, no matter what road is ridden in the rain its best to take it yard by yard, mile by mile, traet it as the first time and keep the observations up.slow down, take it easy, even if you know the route suprises can be around the next bend or corner.

    dont rush home. If feeling tired and or uncomfortable, lacking concentration, stop take a break.
    There an old saying that the brain can only take in what the bum can stand. so if uncomfortable dont push it. stop. have brew or a kip.

    Everytime you go out even on a hot dsay, check the weather, wherever you will be riding. and always prepare for the worst, going uphill may mean a drop in temperature and also when clouds form as they block out the suns heat. quite serious heat can be lost through poor insulation so wear enough clothing, several thin layers being warmer than one thick one.

    If the hands and feet get cold an old trick is to pull up at a petrol station and put on some disposable diesel gloves under you own they will help and also a plastic bag over your socks helps insualte your feet. Buy a Motorcycle News and put it over your chest under your jacket, it is then a usefull paper.

    Shine on …. yes …..have your dipped beam on [ rear lights also]and if you want, wear dayglo tho it may not make any difference. if sighted by car drivers from the side, those that may emerge from a side road, they wont see the dayglo as you have no lights shining on you unless you end up on their bonnet. Additional lighting is good also as it helps define your shape and size. In towns particularly in early morn or evening when dusk or dawn and throughout the dark hours day glo in the wet is lost by all the other reflective lights around from lamp post, shop windows, advertisement, car and other headights , road surfaces etc. so be very carefull in towns.

    On the road after rain, when the road surface is still wet and when the sun is low the reflecting up from of the road surface is a problem, its something one can do nothing about and so ride very carefully into the sun. be aware that if the sun is behind you that other WILL NOT SEE YOU no matter what you wear or where you ride. avoid conflict with all vehicles in front.

    NEVER PRESUME THAT YOU HAVE BEEN SEEN…….. RIDE DEFENSIVELY AT ALL TIMES.

    Ride in your own space…… remember two rules- the two second rule of distance -which should be increased under wet condition as braking will take a longer distance and always ride at a speed in which you can stop on your side of the road and in the distance seen to be clear.

    Ride your own ride in company not pushing it trying to keep up with others, always ride within your comfort zone not pushing the envelope. remember the tyre you are wearing may noit be specifically for wet riding purposses s take extra care, the less grip that you have increases your chanses of coming off particularly whilts braking, acceleration and cornering.

  3. bob craven permalink

    Please ecxuse spilling mistukes its partly in french lol.

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