Rain Riding Tips? - Wrist Twisters
 
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post #1 of 23 Old 11-11-2006, 09:51 AM Thread Starter
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Rain Riding Tips?

During bike shopping a couple Dealers (that sold them) warned heavy, large torquey twins with shaft drives were challenging on slippery surfaces. Since I ride all weather the 919's inline-four/chain driven, large tire, medium weight became very appealing. My slippery conditions technique is not making sudden changes (brakes/gas/steering) especially during turns. Any good slippery riding tips or save stories?

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post #2 of 23 Old 11-11-2006, 10:57 AM
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Wrote this at another forum last year...

Once you have dressed for the rain, you have only two issues to confront: traction and vision. Traction seems to be the primary concern for most riders, usually because they aren't sure how much grip they have available. While some surfaces--metal fixtures such as manhole covers and bridge gratings, painted areas, and places where built-up oil and grease have not washed off--become much slipperier when wet, you can actually call on a surprising amount of traction on clean asphalt or concrete.

How much? The easiest way to test traction is to feel for it with your rear brake. Assuming you know how much deceleration you can develop on dry pavement before the rear tire breaks loose, you have a gauge of what's available if you repeat the test when the road is wet. This also assumes that you have a reasonable amount (say 3/16 of an inch) of tread depth. If you do this at moderate speeds on a flat, straight road, it won't become a thrill ride. Avoid locking up the rear wheel on a steeply crowned road, where it will tend to slide downhill and out of line.

During my ride to work on rainy days, I deliberately lock up the rear wheel two or three times as I come to stops. Once you have a feel for traction, you should have some idea of how much you can safely ask the tires to deliver under braking and cornering.

Some situations should be confronted with extreme caution. Railroad tracks can bite you hard when they are wet. The standard advice is to try to cross railroad or other metal tracks at a right angle, even in the dry. When they are wet, this is imperative. Otherwise, you risk having the tire slip into the groove alongside the track, which will immediately ruin your whole day. Other large metal road surfaces or metal sections running parallel to your direction of travel -- some expansion joints, for example -- are equally hazardous and should be approached cautiously and upright. A thin strip of metal can usually be crossed while leaned over mildly; tires slip then catch again after crossing. However, a large metal surface such as a bridge grate, a manhole cover or a cattle guard, may permit the tire to slip too much to recover traction. Painted surfaces can be almost as slippery as metal.

Places where the oil doesn't get washed away by rian falling on it can be thrilling. Watch out for surfaces where water gets carried in but doesn't fall on the road with the force or in the quantity to remove the oil. Toll booths and parking garages offer a chance to experience this sort of low-traction excitement. There is a highway tunnel not far from my house that's 200 or 300 yards long. The oil in there makes it feel a bit slippery when it's dry. When it rains, the surface is like buttered Teflon. Because the tunnel curves, it's a potentially deadly spot for motorcyclists, especially one who rides in expecting a momentary relief from the wet road.

Turning a motorcycle on such a slick surface demands an ultra-smooth approach. Getting on the brakes abruptly or making a sudden steering input could put you in the guardrail. So you want to be slowed down before you go in there and keep the throttle neutral all the way through --and be ready for cars that might get unstuck and block the whole mess.

That smooth approach to speed and direction changes will serve you well on all wet roads. Initiate your turns a bit more gradually. Downshift smoothly, engaging the clutch a bit slower than usual, and avoid abrupt throttle changes. Get on the throttle progressively. Use a taller gear to reduce the forces reaching the rear tire. Apply the brakes in such a way that the tires are not loaded abruptly. Allow more space to stop or slow down so that you need less. And also make sure that drivers around you have time to react to your moves.

Riding in the rain is OK. It's the clean up afterwards I don't care for

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post #3 of 23 Old 11-11-2006, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Hi Ken,

Thank you for the great info! That's a great idea to alway test the slippery traction to appreciate its lower limit. Watch out for the dreaded slippery line paint! (they should be gritty!)

When I experience tail slipping during a turn it's caused by excessive rear brake or speed. My reaction is letting go of both brakes and not changing anything else, hang on and pray it grabs without high siding me.

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post #4 of 23 Old 11-11-2006, 02:26 PM
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I don't sweat traction so much, it's the vision. Take it easy if it hasn't rained in awhile during the summer months. Like Ken said, that's when the oil is filming on top of the surface. After it's washed off traction is a lot better. I hate it when it rains so hard surfaces of roads flood slightly, or worse when gravel washes out of driveways.

Vision, it's up to the helmet and setup. I always wear some type of glasses under any visor, tinted or clear, regardless of rain or not. The nice thing about that is if visor vision becomes bad, especially from the aforementioned oil, you can raise it and have some clear sight without putting your eyes in the wind. I refuse to have my eyeballs exposed, no matter what.

I used to ride a 750 twin shaft drive. Not any worse than a chain drive bike IMO as far as rain riding goes.

Waterproof pant legs tucked into waterproof boots is not a good idea.

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post #5 of 23 Old 11-11-2006, 07:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Jim for the great advice on how to maintain good vision in bad weather!

The twins-shafts I considered were torquey 1300s, but decided the efficient 919 has plenty of zoom and is very maneuverable.

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post #6 of 23 Old 11-12-2006, 08:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dream247919 View Post
When I experience tail slipping during a turn it's caused by excessive rear brake or speed. My reaction is letting go of both brakes
Why are you using your rear brake mid turn? Get your braking done before the turn, wet or dry.

I agree with HondaJim. I'm always amazed at the traction available in the rain. Just be smooth and don't get fixated on wondering how much purchase you have. If it's been raining for a time and you have good tires you aren't losing much.

I absolutely see no reason for locking your rear brake to test a surface. Do you do this on a dry surface as well?
I would use my front brake if I was going to do this. That's the brake that stops the bike and the one I use all the time anyway.

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post #7 of 23 Old 11-12-2006, 09:04 AM
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There's a lot more than just the motor involved. I'd say the biggest help to riding in the rain other than the gear that's noted and what a drag the cleanup will be is your suspension.

Prior to the RC I had a VTR and it would spin the rear almost contstanly. On the RC with very similar power (just higher up the revs), it stays planted. Not stock suspension, Ohlins front and rear and the normal ride height wound up on the rear. In fact running at speed though a coastal monsoon and clipping bumps it's entirely without drama.

We setup is softer than dry, and some riders will like one or other end softer also depending on how they ride.

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post #8 of 23 Old 11-12-2006, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RxRC View Post
I absolutely see no reason for locking your rear brake to test a surface. Do you do this on a dry surface as well?
I would use my front brake if I was going to do this. That's the brake that stops the bike and the one I use all the time anyway.
What I tend to do is rub the sole of my boot on the pavement when stopped to see if it's noticably slick, and of course that means I also do it in the dry.

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post #9 of 23 Old 11-12-2006, 10:13 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Why are you using your rear brake mid turn? Get your braking done before the turn, wet or dry.
As your great advice states my behavior was pilot error.

Quote:
running at speed though a coastal monsoon and clipping bumps it's entirely without drama.
There's a great image!

Note to self, adjust suspension for best traction during slippery conditions.

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post #10 of 23 Old 11-12-2006, 04:39 PM
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"Waterproof pant legs tucked into waterproof boots is not a good idea."

Sorry but I found this to be the funnest thing I've read all day!LOL

BTW my new rainsiut leaks...at the crotch only!

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post #11 of 23 Old 11-17-2006, 08:08 PM
 
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Don't try to dodge the raindrops.

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post #12 of 23 Old 11-17-2006, 08:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RxRC View Post
I absolutely see no reason for locking your rear brake to test a surface. Do you do this on a dry surface as well?
I would use my front brake if I was going to do this. That's the brake that stops the bike and the one I use all the time anyway.
If you test a surface using your front brake and it is slippery and locks up, sucks to be you. If you do it with a rear brake and it locks up, not a problem.

Once you have an idea of how my traction you have on tha roadway, you should have an idea as to how much front brake you can use safely.

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post #13 of 23 Old 11-17-2006, 09:18 PM
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I do not recommend riding in road spray without it raining. Without the rain, grit can accumulate/stick on the face shield and cloud your vision. It really becomes problematic when riding into the rising or setting sun with no cloud cover. It will dive you to the point to where you have to raise the shield up in order to see anything. And then the stuff gets in your eyes.

I suggest getting a set of rain gloves with “squeegees” build into the thumbs. It helps in clearing the grit enough to where you can see.

post #14 of 23 Old 11-17-2006, 10:45 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken View Post
Once you have dressed for the rain, you have only two issues to confront: traction and vision. Traction seems to be the primary concern for most riders, usually because they aren't sure how much grip they have available. While some surfaces--metal fixtures such as manhole covers and bridge gratings, painted areas, and places where built-up oil and grease have not washed off--become much slipperier when wet, you can actually call on a surprising amount of traction on clean asphalt or concrete.

How much? The easiest way to test traction is to feel for it with your rear brake. Assuming you know how much deceleration you can develop on dry pavement before the rear tire breaks loose, you have a gauge of what's available if you repeat the test when the road is wet. This also assumes that you have a reasonable amount (say 3/16 of an inch) of tread depth. If you do this at moderate speeds on a flat, straight road, it won't become a thrill ride. Avoid locking up the rear wheel on a steeply crowned road, where it will tend to slide downhill and out of line.

During my ride to work on rainy days, I deliberately lock up the rear wheel two or three times as I come to stops. Once you have a feel for traction, you should have some idea of how much you can safely ask the tires to deliver under braking and cornering.

Some situations should be confronted with extreme caution. Railroad tracks can bite you hard when they are wet. The standard advice is to try to cross railroad or other metal tracks at a right angle, even in the dry. When they are wet, this is imperative. Otherwise, you risk having the tire slip into the groove alongside the track, which will immediately ruin your whole day. Other large metal road surfaces or metal sections running parallel to your direction of travel -- some expansion joints, for example -- are equally hazardous and should be approached cautiously and upright. A thin strip of metal can usually be crossed while leaned over mildly; tires slip then catch again after crossing. However, a large metal surface such as a bridge grate, a manhole cover or a cattle guard, may permit the tire to slip too much to recover traction. Painted surfaces can be almost as slippery as metal.

Places where the oil doesn't get washed away by rian falling on it can be thrilling. Watch out for surfaces where water gets carried in but doesn't fall on the road with the force or in the quantity to remove the oil. Toll booths and parking garages offer a chance to experience this sort of low-traction excitement. There is a highway tunnel not far from my house that's 200 or 300 yards long. The oil in there makes it feel a bit slippery when it's dry. When it rains, the surface is like buttered Teflon. Because the tunnel curves, it's a potentially deadly spot for motorcyclists, especially one who rides in expecting a momentary relief from the wet road.

Turning a motorcycle on such a slick surface demands an ultra-smooth approach. Getting on the brakes abruptly or making a sudden steering input could put you in the guardrail. So you want to be slowed down before you go in there and keep the throttle neutral all the way through --and be ready for cars that might get unstuck and block the whole mess.

That smooth approach to speed and direction changes will serve you well on all wet roads. Initiate your turns a bit more gradually. Downshift smoothly, engaging the clutch a bit slower than usual, and avoid abrupt throttle changes. Get on the throttle progressively. Use a taller gear to reduce the forces reaching the rear tire. Apply the brakes in such a way that the tires are not loaded abruptly. Allow more space to stop or slow down so that you need less. And also make sure that drivers around you have time to react to your moves.

Riding in the rain is OK. It's the clean up afterwards I don't care for
i agree all the way...i unfortunatly took a nice dive when i hit some rail road tracks in the rain...they are very slippery,be careful and ride safe

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post #15 of 23 Old 11-17-2006, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ragdoll View Post
If you test a surface using your front brake and it is slippery and locks up, sucks to be you. If you do it with a rear brake and it locks up, not a problem.

Once you have an idea of how my traction you have on tha roadway, you should have an idea as to how much front brake you can use safely.
You gotta help me out here.

You are advocating a heel on the rear brake pedal in the rain?

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post #16 of 23 Old 11-17-2006, 11:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken View Post

Avoid locking up the rear wheel on a steeply crowned road, where it will tend to slide downhill and out of line.

I deliberately lock up the rear wheel two or three times as I come to stops.

Getting on the brakes abruptly or making a sudden steering input could put you in the guardrail.

Apply the brakes in such a way that the tires are not loaded abruptly.
So which is it? I've never seen such contradictory advice. I'm not trying to harp on you but fukn a man that's bad. Think of a new rider that's reading this and then going out for a ride. They're f'd in the behind if they try this.

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post #17 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 04:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RxRC View Post
So which is it? I've never seen such contradictory advice. I'm not trying to harp on you but fukn a man that's bad. Think of a new rider that's reading this and then going out for a ride. They're f'd in the behind if they try this.
Not contradictory at all.

Avoid locking up the rear wheel on a steeply crowned road, where it will tend to slide downhill and out of line. (True)

You conveniently took this out of context - (to test traction) I deliberately lock up the rear wheel two or three times as I come to stops. Testing means controlled environment - no intersections, traffic, etc. This should have been obvious, but sorry if I didn't make this clear.

Getting on the brakes abruptly or making a sudden steering input could put you in the guardrail - True

Apply the brakes in such a way that the tires are not loaded abruptly - True

As for new riders - an untrained new rider probably isn't going to be comfortable riding in the rain, let alone locking the rear wheel to test traction. And I would hope not - if they are, it's an accident waiting to happen. On the other hand, if they have taken the MSF, BRC and ERC (which they should) then they would already have experience with testing the limits of the rear brake.

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post #18 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RxRC View Post
You gotta help me out here.

You are advocating a heel on the rear brake pedal in the rain?
I do it every time I'm riding on wet. I just tap the rear a few times at pressures that wouldn't normally lock it up, if it does lock up for that .01 seconds that I tap it, then I am much more careful.

I wouldn't do it at any speed above...say, 45-50mph(to put a number on it)

It's better than finding out how slick it is with the front brake when you really do need to stop and instead are riding down the street on your back.

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post #19 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 10:31 AM
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I've locked my front in the rain, not on purpose but I rolled away with it.

Got on the brakes, hit a spot with less grip and suddenly the bars were floating. Got off the brakes and it snapped straight and carried on. Like locking the front at speed vs in a parking lot. Lock it up in the lot and you're down like a snake bite. Lock it up at 100 and you've got some time to sort it out.

You can test traction with the gas too, give it some and see what happens. Just be covering the clutch lever & ready to slip when you do. Just chopping the throttle will only make it worse.

Treat all the controls like dials in the rain (in the dry too of course), don't go gas on, gas off, brake on, brake off etc. Visualize the small but steady changes and you'll become much smoother.

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post #20 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 11:20 AM
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Okay, good points from all of you. Yes, I did take some things out of context. My mistake.

I think this thread with some different points of view is making people analyze their technique. That's a good thing, it makes you think.

I really don't use the rear brake except for tightening up u-turns. I just don't think there's much merit to using it wet or dry. What does it do when your back tire isn't even on the ground?

I don't believe MSF teaches you to find the "limit" of the rear brake. They may have you try and stop with it alone a few times just to prove a point.

I do not have as much saddle time with the 919 but with the SV I can leave black marks with the front at will. It's neither scary or unpredictable. To tell you the truth intentionally locking the rear in the rain sounds much less inviting to me.

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post #21 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 02:18 PM
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Locking up the front is far more terrifying than locking the rear, in my opinion. I also use the gas and rear brake to determine the amount of traction available to my tires. In fact, I use the rear more when it's wet in order to avoid locking the front since a rear lock is a little easier to control than front end lock if you're going under 30 mph.

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post #22 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 06:44 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for all the fantastic expert advice! It's motivated me to put the rain suit to good use. This el cheapo plastic wrap doesn't breath much, but its bright color is ideal for rain use.

One hazzard that's tough spotting in the rain is clear broken glass. A friend use to say that the clear glass was sharper and flatted his tires.

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post #23 of 23 Old 11-18-2006, 08:38 PM
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The problem with glass and rain is it tends to stick to the wet tire and then work in.

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