Due to modern motorcycle and tire technology that seems to improve weekly, adventure bikes spooned with 50/50 rubber have no problem tackling various terrains both on and off-road. It goes without saying nowadays that the rider is the only thing holding performance back.
But even the best-trained rider on the most capable bike donning the most amazing tires will be presented with unique challenges in riding the pavement in the wet stuff.
Let’s explore essential tips and techniques for safely navigating rain on asphalt and other inclement weather conditions on your adventure motorcycle equipped with 50/50 tires.
And by 50/50, this can also be a 60/40 or even a 70/30. Manufacturers all use their own definition of this variable, so we’ll just use the 50/50 variable for all going forward.
By being prepared and practicing these riding strategies, you can enhance your safety and enjoyment during your adventures. Riding in the mud is not the focus here; we’ll provide some tips in the future on techniques for that discipline.
First - the Adventure Riding Gear
An uncomfortable rider is an unsafe rider—especially when it's raining. Proper gear is essential for staying dry and comfortable. Don’t skimp here; invest in high-quality waterproof jackets, pants, gloves, and boots to protect you from the elements. Many swear by Gore-Tex, which seems to be at the top of the proverbial food chain of moto gear.
Also, use a clear visor and apply an anti-fog solution if necessary—or better yet, use a PinLock if your lid has the capability.
Prep Your Adventure Motorcycle for Rainy Conditions
Before embarking on your rainy adventure, ensure your motorcycle is well-prepared. Start from the most essential element and up - the tires. Check the PSI to ensure optimal traction, and inspect the tread depth for adequate grip. This is especially crucial for 50/50 tires due to the knobby style tires because they lose grip on wet roads when they wear or use lower pressure.
Always give yourself a quick brake check before your travels, and make sure your lights, including rear brake lights, are operating properly to maximize visibility. And if you use riding/fog lights—which we all should—make sure both are working.
Riding Techniques for Wet Roads
Adapting your riding style to wet conditions is vital for safety. Here are the absolute essentials that can save some serious troubles:
- Opt for a smooth and gentle riding approach, avoiding abrupt throttle, brake, or suspension inputs that can lead to loss of traction.
- Increase your following distance from other vehicles, allowing more time to react to unexpected situations. Always maintain more than five seconds of “lead” time. How? Choose a point on the road of the vehicle ahead, and count seconds until you hit that same point, whether a highway sign or a parked car.
- When cornering, maintain a wider line and avoid aggressive lean angles. It may help to slide your butt off the seat a bit in the direction you’re turning. Not road-racing style, but enough to keep your weight inside and more of the meat of the tires on the road for optimal traction.
Also, remember that tires will remain colder and provide less traction, even if only stopped for a few seconds at a traffic light or intersection. This should be enough to slow the ride down a bit to keep you safe (and your riding friends!).
Visibility and Communication
Enhancing your visibility to other motorists becomes even more critical in rainy weather. Wear reflective clothing and accessories to increase your presence on the road. Remember this when purchasing gear, also. Many helmets arrive with fluorescent colors, which increase visibility dramatically in wet/foggy conditions.
Your headlights are already on, but if you have running lights make sure they’re on. Properly signal your intentions and use hand gestures to communicate with other riders or drivers when necessary, as visibility may be reduced.
Handling Hydroplaning and Skidding
Hydroplaning and skidding are common risks when riding in wet conditions. To handle hydroplaning, keep a steady grip on the handlebars—don’t grip tightly, but enough to control the bike—while avoiding sudden braking or acceleration, and try to ride in the tracks left by other vehicles.
If you experience a skid, maintain a relaxed grip and avoid panic braking. Instead, ease off the throttle gradually and gently apply the brakes to regain control.
The best way to learn these techniques is to practice them in safe conditions. Make this part of your new-season regime before trekking on your first adventure.
Being prepared for unexpected situations is crucial when riding in inclement weather. Carry essential tools, such as a tire repair kit and a multi-tool, to handle minor repairs on the go.
It's also advisable to have a rain cover for your motorcycle to protect it from prolonged exposure to rain when parked—especially while camping. Consider packing a small emergency kit with first aid supplies and emergency contact information.
Riding an adventure motorcycle with 50/50 tires in rain and other inclement weather requires caution, preparation, and adaptation. Invest in proper gear to stay dry and comfortable, prepare your motorcycle for wet conditions, and adjust your riding style to ensure stability and control.
By following these tips, you can confidently tackle the challenges of riding in adverse weather and enjoy your adventures to the fullest.
Remember, safety should always be your priority, and if the weather conditions become too severe, it's wise to postpone your ride or seek shelter until conditions improve. Stay informed about weather forecasts and road conditions, and use your judgment to make the best decisions for your safety and enjoyment.