Advice Library:

Surviving the Screaming Moist

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Collected musings from the ZKMC mailing list when asked:

"What tips do you have for riding in weather besides sunny and dry? 
Do you have special gear you pull out? 
Is there anything you do for better visibility, your own or others to see 
Traction tips? 
Etc... "

  • Some things I do..
    • I don't ride my Daytona, the tires on it get squirrelly if someone talks about rain near it
    • I make an extra effort to put on lots of high-viz green + retro reflective gear, I <3 my Rev'it Pacific H20 suit in obnoxious HV green
    • More effort to keep all my lights on, amber runners are a bonus, low-aimed HID or spots too depending on the operational status of my farkles..

    • Riding:
    • Generally lower speeds [derr]
    • More aware of external traction issues.. oil/cracks/holes/tar snakes/shit on the road.. the rain makes me pay attention to this even more.
    • Lower speed in corners and more emphasis on keeping the bike upright (more bodyweight shifting than normal street riding perhaps, to achieve this)
    • Way more stopping distance
    • Be concious of ABS if you have it, careful to remember this if you have multiple bikes, with and without it - go do some 40-0mph tests in a wet parking lot with your ABS bike.. it's very confidence inspiring :]
    • I tend to have absolutely no trust in other motorists on the road, so I keep a much larger cushion around me in all directions. And I definitely assume people don't see me and are trying to kill me.

    • Gear:
    • Put on the waterproof stuff early, it sucks if you get wet because you just won't dry out. Nylon textile gear that's "waterproof" or has waterproof liners may keep your skin dry, but it gets waterlogged and heavy and cold, and makes you feel like you're wet even if you're not.
    • Cold water near your body means you're probably going to be colder than normal, so having an extra insulating layer and/or a heated vest/jacker is nice..
    • Eat some more calories to keep warmer. And don't forget to drink just because it's cold and your wet. [learned this more from mountaineering, but stands to reason it'd carry over.]
    • If it's REALLY pouring and I don't have to ride, I won't. Same goes for snow, and if I think there's ice happening then count me out. That said, I've ridden in some obsurd rain in Eastern Oregon and Nevada, and through a bit of snow without problems.

  • Rain-X!!!!!!!
  • I have a 2 piece rain suit from Pioneer (Canadian company) that has been through 3 winters and still kept me totally dry in this morning's swim to work.
  • Slow the fuck down!
  • Slower corner speed means less lean angle and more traction.
  • Give yourself as much space as possible.

  • Niqwax visor stuff is sweet.
  • I've also ridden with latex gloves as liners when my gloves have gotten totally soaked, seems to help sometimes, maybe it's just placebo though ;]
  • Friends have wrapped their socks in grocery bags when their boots didn't quite hold up to the rain, same deal.

  • Most important . . .don't freak out!
  • Get out and ride and have fun. Depending on your bike and tires, you may have a lot more traction than you think you do. Step things up gradually and get a feel for things. I ride in the rain quite a bit as part of commuting and what not, but I think it does a lot for your skills out on the good roads too. Last summer, I took an overnighter down to Stevenson for some blasting around St. Helens. I did a run up Windy Ridge on Saturday in the sun and had a blast. Sunday morning, I had to ride most of the way North on wet pavement, following a heavy rain shower. By the time I got back up to FS99 for Windy Ridge, the sun had come out and pavement was dry. I wasn't timing things or racing, but I swear I was riding a hell of a lot faster (and more importantly, better) on Sunday. Riding in the wet makes you focus on being smooth . . . and smooth = fast. If you gear up for it, a great ride in the rain can be a blast.

  • No moto specific rain gear? You probably already have a regular rain jacket, does it fit over your moto jacket? Mine is a little snug in spots around my jacket but it gets the job done. Only drawback is that it's not the highest visibility color, so at your discretion.
  • My textile pants aren't specifically water proof but they've seemed pretty resistant over the last three years and they dry out reasonably quickly. Might be worth experimenting with your gear, but don't blame me if you're soggy on the way home :)
  • In addition to the extra space cushion I tend to engine brake a bit more than usual. When I do that, rain or shine, I tend to blip either of my brake controls to flash my brake lights.
  • Be mindful that your boots may act differently in the wet. Mine say they resist oil and the like but that doesn't seem to include water on some surfaces. As such once I get near stopping I'll put both feet out, just in case.

  • I use head-to-toe Goretex gear (First Gear TPG is great), extra clothing layers, and heated glove liners with handguards to keep my hands from cramping up.
  • The fairing and windshield combination also helps. :-) (VStrom)
  • Any wet/cold riding that lasts more than 45 minutes will leave your hands in a cold, stiff state just due to the inability of your body to move enough warm blood through them over time.
  • I rode the I-5 slog between Portland and Seattle year-round from 2009-2011 since my girlfriend still lived up here and I down there (PDX). So I wound up with a few rides needing heating gloves the entire way, and a hot shower afterwards.
  • I often bring an extra change of socks due to eventual boot leakage, although I just bought some boot covers which I may use for those long trips where the goretex isn't quite enough for all the weather.
  • You'll quickly learn that cold wet rain at 60+ mph hits like nails sometimes. When the rain is really heavy, make extra space between yourself and other vehicles, to compensate for reaction times. Lean a little less into the corners, and let the suspension get a little softer to accommodate wet, rough surfaces at an angle.

  • If you're rain gear isn't high viz, you can always get a *super* cheap highviz vest and toss it over, they're lightweight enough that they won't be too problematic when soaked.

  • I've been reading that using rain-x on plastic visors is a bad idea. Anyone have experience around that and/or other treatments they love for clear visors?
    • Yeah, I've been told the same, I use Nikwax's stuff specifically for plastic visors.
      I think seattle cycle has it, and REI/snowboarding shops probably too?
      I think after time rainx(TM) may cloud up plastic.
    • I've been using Rain-X on my visors on every helmet I've ever owned and on clear and tinted visors.Always clean the visor first and I've never noticed any adverse effects on the plastic.

  • Along the lines of adding high visibility to your gear, I bought a bunch of colored retro-reflective tape and have added it to my backpack and plan to do some interesting things with stencil cutting it (it comes with a backing). http://www.tapejungle.com/categories/Reflective-Tapes/

  • The best additions I have made to my gear lately are my heated vest and my double-walled visor that is made for snowmobilers. That sucker never fogs up and has been a huge help.
  • Other than that, slower speeds, longer braking periods and watching out for idiots driving Prius's!

  • Traction: be extra mindful to avoid painted/taped markings on the road (turn arrows, lane dividers, crosswalk markings, etc.;) as they are extra slick in rain ... a brand new left turn arrow in the center lane in a slight drizzle was the culprit in my lowside last spring.
  • Gear: I have a TourMaster rain jacket that fits over my armored riding jacket and it kept me dry in some impressive downpours along the coast last year. It rolls up pretty small so its something I have with me all the time and it wasn't very expensive.
  • I prefer to *layer* things so I also have a Gerbings heated jacket liner (and heated gloves) ... between my heated liner, armoured riding jacket, and the rain jacket I have been comfortable with some combination of those three from 25 degrees to 110 degrees, rain, snow, and sun. The liner and rain jacket are much easier to pack along than a second (or third) riding jacket.
  • Riding pants: I have Olympia AirGlide riding pants ... which come with a waterproof liner intended to be worn underneath the riding pants - but that's stupid ... so I actually wear the waterproof liner on the *outside* of my riding pants ... keeps me totally dry, adds a wind barrier if its just a bit chilly, and when it stops raining or gets warmer I just take the liner off and don't have to strip out of the riding pants as well.

  • My additions:
  • Gear- A pinlock visor for the helmet to prevent fogging, just flat works all the time. I've tried a bunch of other stuff with limited or no success. I won't get a helmet without one.
  • Rain gear-wise I've got a set of moto rain pants and jacket that go on over my regular textiles. They didn't get much use until last week when my Firstgear pants failed in spectacular fashion. I've been using them since and like them over just the textiles due to the water-logging issue mentioned earlier.
  • Boots, Sidi's that have never let me down in five or so years. Gloves, I can't remember the brand/model but they have been likewise leak proof.
  • Heated grips to keep blood in the fingers. The Uly came with them, and the kit I put on the Guzzi was only $20 or so. Money well spent.
  • My rain jacket is hi-vis, and I've got one of those icon vests that I wear during the commute even when it isn't raining. I just don't trust that everyone on the road at that hour has had time to metabolize their caffeine.
  • Riding techniques have been pretty well covered. Stay relaxed, keep a good buffer, and enjoy the ride. I still have fun with it, and as far as the commute goes it beats the hell out of sitting in gridlock on 405 for an extra hour or two every day.

  • Practicing wet braking in a controlled parking lot is key and leaving enough space in front of you to handle whatever stupid thing a driver is about to do in front of you.
  • I use a Foggy nose covering to keep my face shield from steaming up and a balaclava which helps with sharp raindrops hitting your neck. I've had both Sidi Vertebra rain waterproof boots (they leak) which were not GoreTex and Canyons, which are and have never leaked. Army surplus sometimes has GoreTex boot liners.
  • Revit and Racer gloves are waterproof without getting hot in the sun and I'm eager to try the Klims that Touratech has started carrying.
  • The Triumph Chevron over suit is great rainwear that comes in its own bag and doesn't flap, but 95% or more of the time I'm wearing waterproof gear anyway.
  • Don't ride on worn tires in the rain, especially the front. My bikes are shod with rain riding in mind.
  • think the best safety and comfort device is riding regularly in all kinds of weather, so handling the bike is second-nature.

  • Another worthy tidbit: unless your riding a high bar cruiser or dual sport, tuck your glove cuffs/gauntlets UNDER your water shedding layer. In persistent rain, most sportier bike geometries will have rainwater running down from your shoulders to wrists, and handily soak the insides of your gloves if worn in the more intuitive, over-the-sleeves style!

  • Short shifting and riding in a gear up from what you might otherwise be using keeps rpms down and smoothes any unintentional abruptness in power transfer to the rear wheel from the right hand, i.e. when crackin' the throttle mid corner, helping with the lack of traction in wet conditions

  • Gloves;
  • Warmer Weather: First Gear Master. Waterproof. Recommended for waterproofness, long gauntlets with elastic closure, and low profile- good control feel.
  • Colder Weather: Olimpia Cold Throttle(available in HiViz and Black. Reccomended for the same, though obviously a bit bulkier due to the added insulation.
  • Boots:
  • Danner, Ft. Lewis.
    These have a goretex liner, and no open seams along the tounge. I have never had a drip get in there, unless I'm wearing textile pants tucked in, then it can soak into the pantleg and into the sock. But if I'm wearing my rain paints, or un-tuck the ankles of the pants, my feet are great. I have walked in a river with these and never felt it. They are also one of the few military boots I was able to find that are gore-tex lined but /not/ insulated, so thay are quite comfortable in the summer heat.
  • Rain Gear:
  • Tourmaster Sentinel 2-piece Jacket and Trousers.
    I hear mixed reviews about Tourmaster, but this set up has never failed me. I do not ride in them everyday all day like some of the more dedicated commuters, but this set travels in my luggage with me on trips, and I've had to wear it for hours at a time in pretty severe rain, and I've been perfectly happy with how it performs. If I commuted daily I'd probably look for a one piece with a higher build quality, but for 2-3 times a year, this stuff seems great for the pricepoint. Both pieces have ample and large pockets, which makes fishing around in them easier when you're wearing your gloves etc. The zipper on the jacket has a velcro closing flap for double protection, and it has an integral hood in the collar that you can fold out and put under your helmet if you want to keep water from going down your neck.
  • If your gloves dont have integral wiper blades on the thumbs or forefinger, or even if they do, but you'd rather not let go of the grips, rotating your head along the axis of you neck while leaning forward (sort of twisting your chin toward your shoulder) will cause the moving air to blow the water off of your visor as it collects there, and allow you to keep your eyes on the road (as opposed to turning fully left and right)
  • Keep ziplock bags in your luggage. Keep your phone in it. When you run into trouble in the rain and need to call a friend or emergency services, you will be glad to find your phone is dry and functioning. Same goes for your camera: though it isn't as good at calling for help, you might be glad to not have to buy a new one if you don't have a water proof camera.

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