Washington State is known for many things including great coffee, beautiful scenery and of course, our very wet winters. To many motorcyclists, riding in the rain can be intimidating, but with the right prep and planning, you can enjoy riding your motorcycle in the Pacific Northwest year round.
- Get the Proper Gear. The motorcycle protective gear you decide to wear can make or “brake” your riding experience. Waterproof gear is nice, but high-visibility waterproof gear is even better. Try swapping out your clear face shield for a yellow or orange one and treat your goggles or shield with an anti-fog. A brightly tinted face shield will increase contrast and allow you to see hazards better.
- Stay Calm. Getting caught in a sudden rainstorm on your motorcycle can be stressful. But it’s important to remember that the road is slick and any sudden, tense movements can mean disaster, so try to stay loose. Holding onto your handlebars too tightly can tire you out and cause your maneuvers to be more rigid and abrupt.
- Plan Ahead. In the winter, it’s crucial to always check the weather before you set out for your ride. Be sure to always pack proper rain gear, even if there is the slightest chance of rain. If it’s the first rain in a few days, wait a couple hours before heading out as there will be more oil and dirt built up on the road and a higher risk of losing control.
- Check Your Lane Positioning. Note that tire tracks on the road are usually the best line to follow as they have less water pooled up and are normally positioned away from the center of lanes where oil tends to build. Stay away from slick surfaces like painted lane lines and keep an eye out for puddles and avoid them whenever possible – a small puddle can mask a deep pothole.
- Make Smooth Transitions. Even simple maneuvers like accelerating, shifting and braking can be dangerous in the rain. Remember that your motorcycle braking distance is even longer on slick wet surfaces, so cover your brakes and give yourself more time and space. If you have to make a sudden stop, brake more heavily in the rear – you are more likely to recover if your back tire spins out than if your front tire does. Slowing down completely when you’re approaching a curve in the road or making a turn can be very helpful as well.
It’s a Fine Line is an inclusive community of motorcycle riders advocating one common mission: zero motorcycle deaths by 2030. We want to share videos and stories about motorcycle events, rides, clubs, gear, safety and training because we believe that together we can save the lives of our friends, our families and our communities.