Riding in wet weather is best avoided. However, not everyone has the luxury of staying in during the rainy season. Even with the recently-implemented emergency lay-bys for motorcycle riders, many of us still have to brave the rough weather on two wheels for one reason or another.
Luckily, the expert instructors from the Honda Safety Driving Center (HSDC) have a few tried and tested tips:
1) Estimate flood level
Throughout the metro, flooding is inevitable in many areas. While wading through ankle-deep water should be fine for most bikes, anything deeper can get risky. A good tactic is to let other motorists proceed before you, before deciding whether or not it’s safe to take the plunge based on how submerged their vehicles are.
If no other vehicles or even pedestrians are around to serve as flood measurement, the rule of thumb is to learn where your bike’s spark plug is and avoid riding through water levels that are close enough to reach it. If the flood is higher than the center of your wheel hub, then chances are that you’ll run the risk of submerging your spark plug.
2) Be sure the path is clear
Obstacles that would normally cause trouble in dry weather become even more dangerous in the slippery and low-visibility conditions of rain. Ride slowly to be able to visually confirm that the path ahead is clear of obstructions, even more so when roads are flooded and could conceal hazards under the water’s surface.
3) Go straight at slow speed
Your tires’ traction severely decreases on wet surfaces. Even if you’re running rain-ready rubber, it’s always best to ride safely amid uncertainty. Slowly and surely, maintain as large a contact patch between the rubber and the road as possible. Avoid sudden turns and swerving, which can cause your bike to break traction and fall over.
4) Stay off the sides of the road
Most roads are designed in such a way that the center area is raised so rainwater drains off into gutters and canals. Stay on this higher section to avoid the accumulated water as well as all the road debris swept to the sides by cars.
5) Keep moving and avoid stopping
If Dory from Finding Nemo is to be believed, it’s in your best interest to “just keep swimming” (er, riding). Staying stationary and soaked under the pouring rain is not only unhealthy for you, but also for your bike that wasn’t built to remain partially submerged for extended periods of time. With such low visibility, stopping also makes you a potential road hazard that other motorists might not be able to see until it’s too late. If you do need to stop for some reason, do so in a safe, non-flooded place that will shelter you from the rain.
6) Check your motorcycle right after
Once you’ve made it out of the rain, the next step is to inspect your motorcycle for any water-damaged electronics and other components. Before you resume riding at regular speed, make sure to check your brakes. Allowing drum or disc brakes to sit in water for a while will reduce stopping power. You can get rid of excess water by gently pressing on both front and rear brakes while applying a bit of throttle. Repeat this process until your pads and rotors dry up and your braking performance is back to normal.
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