Now that the Monsoons are well upon us, it is imperative that we talk about the rain. We had previously given you some monsoon driving tips, and now it is time for some monsoon riding tips.
For some, riding in the rain brings pleasure like no other, with the cold raindrops, pattering on the helmet, and the open road ahead. For some others though, riding in the rain becomes a matter of necessity, as they would have to undertake their daily commute to work, or university or wherever it is that they have to be.
Riding in the rain gets the rider as well as the motorcycle dirty most of the time, as it gets really messy out there, especially in India. But, as all two-wheeler riders would have figured by now, riding in the rain cannot be avoided on many occasions. So, what precautions are to be taken before, while, and after riding in the rain? Drivespark breaks it down for you.
Preparing The Bike Before The Rains:
It pays to have your motorcycle in the best of conditions as one cannot always predict when it would start raining. During the monsoon, rains are obvious, and you and your two-wheeler need to be prepared to face the rain.
1. Tyre Care:
Tyres are of utmost importance because, no matter how technologically sophisticated your motorcycle is, in the end, it will be the tyres which grip the road. It is suggested to have a soft compound tyre on the motorcycle/scooter, with enough tread left on it.
The tyre tread level should be checked once in two weeks and if any signs of abnormal wear and tear are found, such as cracks, flat spots or bloats, the tyre needs to be replaced. Tread level is often the most ignored and can be the cause for accidents, hence tyre tread must be way above the legal limit for it to grip properly.
2. Chain Lube:
Every motorcycle's chain needs to be lubricated well and frequently, especially during the monsoon, as water, muck and grit keep splashing onto the chain while it is running at high speeds. Various chain lubricant spray cans are available in the market, and can be purchased for just above Rs 200.
The importance of keeping your motorcycle's chain lubed increases manifold if your motorcycle sports an open chain, as this sort of chain will be exposed more to the elements. Chain lubricants have water repelling characteristics and can protect your motorcycle's chain from rusting or in some cases, even snapping due to excessive wear and tear.
Yes, all motorcycles are water resistant and can repel water, but as vehicles age, some of the protective covering on various parts of the motorcycle might come off due to wear and tear. This is especially true for electrical components. Some of the wiring's outer layer might have worn out or even been eaten by rodents.
The electricals and the wiring on the motorcycle should be given a thorough inspection, and if any such wear and tear is found, it can easily be repaired by just taping it up or using heat shrinks on that particular spot. If there is an electrical leak, especially near the battery or the alternator, it could even lead to a fire, as the circuit would short when exposed to water.
Riding Safe While It Is Raining:
1. Rain Gear:
Wearing proper or improper rain gear can make the difference between a pleasant ride in the rain and a grumpy one. The rain gear should allow your skin to breathe and yet not allow water to creep in. The right kind of helmet for the rain is one which covers your face. Always ride with the visor closed, as thick rain drops can hurt if you are riding above 50 km/h.
2. Relax While Riding:
No matter how cold it gets, the rider needs to be relaxed. Riding in a cramped and bunched up position will just tire the rider, and it can become dangerous too, as the rider will not have the flexibility to manoeuvre away from any unexpected obstacle in front. Relaxed riding will also help you ride longer distances in the rain.
3. Watch The Road:
Most roads in India are slippery enough already. When it rains, it becomes extremely slippery. The white lines and markings on the roads would have become as slippery as ice, and metal strips, plates/manholes become the slipperiest, as wet tyres will not be able to grip onto wet metal surfaces. A good set of tyres can better the situation, but nothing like riding carefully.
4. Puddle Or Pond?
Riding through a puddle can be fun, but since the surface beneath the water is not seen, most of the time, you do not know what you are riding into. The depth of the puddle could be a few centimetres or it could even be an open manhole. There is no way of finding out until you have ridden through it, but while in doubt, do not go flat out.
Ride through the puddle confidently but slowly and in the lowest possible gear, preferably first or second gear, so that the engine is in the power band in case you feel the need to accelerate out suddenly. In the case of scooters, stay on the throttle as light as possible.
5. Watch Out For Rainbows On The Roads:
If you see the colours of a rainbow on the ground in a mixed up manner, try your best to stay away from it. The colours are a result of fuel or oil mixing with the rain water. Oil generally is very slippery and becomes even more slippery after getting mixed up with water. If you do have to ride through it, take it as slow and straight as possible, without braking while on the oil.
6. First Showers Are Dangerous:
After many days of dry weather, when it rains, the oil and dirt from the road mix with the water, making a slippery concoction that has brought many two wheelers crashing down. If possible, wait for at least half an hour of heavy rain, so that this deadly concoction is washed away.
If it has just drizzled, there will be no use waiting, since the road will remain slippery. In such a situation, it is best to ride slow.
7. Railway Crossings Become More Difficult To Cross:
Railway crossings, especially in city limits are enough of a nightmare to cross when it is dry. This just becomes worse when it starts raining. Remember, wet metal surfaces and wet rubber are not really the best of friends. Ride across the crossing as straight as possible, while maintaining enough momentum to get you across.
If you stop on the railway track and try to accelerate, your rear wheel will start spinning endlessly, and the scooter/motorcycle might violently swerve to one side or the other.
8. Braking In The Rain:
Riding in the dry requires one to apply just a little more pressure on the front brakes than the rear brakes. The opposite is required while riding in the rain because, if the front wheel starts sliding, it would be extremely difficult to correct it, but is the rear wheel starts sliding, it can be corrected easily.
The more experienced riders can stick to applying more pressure on the front brakes, as that is still the method which can help brake the quickest, but it can go horribly wrong if done wrongly. Braking in the wet needs to be gentle. Also, Give yourself more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Braking distances are much longer in the rain.
Aquaplaning is something that happens when a layer of water builds up between the tyres of the vehicle and the road surface. This leads to sudden and complete loss of grip and control, as the vehicle is at that moment literally surfing on the water.
In such a situation, all the rider should do is relax, and let the motorcycle/scooter chart its own course until the motorcycle is out of the area in which aquaplaning is happening. Of course, this is easier said than done, as the rider would immediately start panicking after completely losing control over the vehicle.
The idea behind relaxing is so that the muscles controlling the handlebar, i.e., the arm and shoulder muscles can be flexible enough to regain control after a few moments
Low visibility plays a major role in most accidents that happen during the rains. Low visibility goes both ways - the rider not being able to see clearly, and the rider and his motorcycle not being seen clearly.
Not being seen clearly can be solved by turning on the headlamps and riding in the rain even if there is daylight. Your motorcycle's headlamp can draw the attention of other riders and drivers of bigger vehicles. At night, you can be seen better by wearing high-visibility clothes and by sticking a good quality reflector strip at the rear and front of the motorcycle.
Not being able to see clearly can be mainly attributed to the raindrops crashing onto your helmet's visor and ahead of you as well. Water repellant sprays are available in the market to make rain water on the helmet visor roll off easily. Also, some helmets come with wipers, and for those without wipers, there are finger-mounted visor wipers available in the market.
Motorcycle Care After A Ride In The Rain:
Maintaining a motorcycle after riding in the rain is as simple as giving it a thorough wash and wipe. This wash is very important because it helps wash off all the dirt and muck the motorcycle/scooter has picked up from the road while riding before it becomes dry and hard. It is better to wash it all off immediately because it would still be wet and easy to remove than when dry.
It does not have to be a pressure wash, but, just tap water through a pipe would do. Wipe the vehicle dry after the wash, and you are set for the next ride in the rain.
Rain Gear Maintenance:
If possible, the rain gear too should be washed in the same way the bike was, as it will help get all the muck and grime out from the breather slots. A blow-dry after that would prepare your rain gear for their next rainy day.