July 23, 2012 by Rider Newsletter Staff
If you’ve been riding for more than a few months, or if you commute via motorcycle, you’ve probably faced a weather induced dilemma such as: Threatening skies, but hope of a brighter future, or a beautiful morning with storms in the forecast. The question is: Do you ride or not? If you do, what happens if you get caught in the rain?
Riding a motorcycle on a regular basis means both playing forecaster and being ready for whatever weather conditions you encounter. As so often happens these days, it’s technology to the rescue. With the right stuff, you can become a great weather prognosticator. Similarly, proper gear can make riding in the rain a whole lot safer.
Getting the Right Forecast
If you have a computer, tablet or smart phone, you’ve got a powerful weather forecasting tool at your disposal. On the computer, sites like weather.com, accuweather.com and weather.gov provide live radar and hourly or daily forecasts. Your local television and radio stations probably have live radar available on their Web sites.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of weather applications available for smart phones and tablets. The best choice for you depends on your particular requirements and which device you are using. Popular apps include The Weather Channel, Intellicast and Weather Bug. Visit these links or the application store for your device to see what’s available and how users have rated various choices.
Laughter in the Rain
So, what if the weatherman and you both get it wrong and it rains? Riding in the rain can be relatively safe if you are prepared. Having the proper gear is the most important thing you can do to make wet weather riding safer and even pleasant. If you’re both soaking wet and freezing cold, your mind will not be on the job at hand. Also, you’ll be miserable when there’s no need.
You’ll want to be covered from head to toe with particular attention paid to openings such as sleeves, pant legs and your collar. These need to be specifically designed to keep water from getting in, even when it’s driven by the wind. Waterproof boots and gloves are a must. Like most other motorcycle equipment, you get what you pay for with rain gear. Ask around, if you’re not sure what to buy. Just be sure you have it with you when it starts to rain.
A sight for Your Eyes
The next concern is seeing and being seen. A full face helmet is the best solution for seeing in the rain. Adding some Rain-X to the outside and an anti-fog agent to the inside of the visor can help considerably. If a full face helmet is not your style, be sure you have quality eye protection and something to cover your face. Those little, tiny raindrops become stinging projectiles at 55 or 65 miles per hour. Without protection, you’ll be one red-faced rider when you arrive. A bandana can be enough to dull the sting. Just be prepared to have a wet and cold face.
Being seen goes back to the subject of raingear. You may prefer riding in dark or neutral clothing, but a rainstorm is no time to be subtle. Bright, reflective stripes and light colors will make you more visible in traffic. A dark, dull outfit can make you practically invisible in bad weather. In this case, you need to put your vanity aside and let your will to survive take over.
Making yourself comfortable and improving your ability to see and be seen will allow you to concentrate on riding. With that in mind, there are many tips and techniques to make riding in the rain less frightening and much safer. We’ll cover some of those in our next installment. In the meantime, get yourself equipped to see the weather ahead of you and be prepared if things turn damp.