Michael Estrada rides his motorcycle down the street. | Photo by Michael Weber.

Motorcycle Tips for Riding in the Rain

It's always important to drive safely, and that goes double for motorcyclists, especially in the rain.

It’s always important to drive safely, but especially for motorcyclists in the rain

Riding a motorcycle is a very exhilarating experience, and just like driving a car, it becomes a little more dangerous in the rain.

Humboldt County is no stranger to the rain, and if two-wheel transportation is your main way of getting around, here are some things to think about before you ride.

Proper Gear: Pants and a sweater aren’t going to cut it. Water resistant gear is highly recommended so you don’t freeze, it can impair both your decision making and ability to maneuver the bike. If you can afford it, heated vests and gloves are a great investment. You are better off with boots than sneakers, and luckily a dual-purposed pair of water resistant hiking boots will do the trick.

Check Your Bike: Wet roads mean less traction. After it rains, oil comes up to the surface of the roads, so make sure your tires aren’t worn out. Leaning and shifting your weight is a critical part of riding. You don’t want the bike to go sliding because of bad tread. Check your brake pads, lights and do any other regular maintenance you may not have kept up on before riding out in bad weather.

Puddles are NOT Fun: In a car or truck it can be fun to make huge splashes. However, puddles can be deceiving and even a small pothole can send you flying off your bike. If possible, always safely maneuver around puddles.

Rainbow Roads Are For Mario Kart Only: The pretty little swirls of color you see are just oil puddles waiting to send your bike swerving. Be extra careful at stop signs and lights; cars and trucks sometimes sit at intersections for a while and any leaking oil adds up.

Stay On Pavement: Try to avoid riding on painted lines, manhole covers or any other shiny/metallic surfaces in general. If it was slippery when dry, it is even more dangerous when it rains, especially given that the reduced tire grip can lead to hydroplaning. If you have to go over something, avoid any sudden inputs such as quick acceleration or slamming the breaks.

Slow and Smooth: Ease off the throttle sooner and give yourself more room to stop. Take turns at lower speeds so you can keep a safe and constant speed, and don’t shift your weight too abruptly. Sudden actions like slamming on the breaks and quickly switching your weight can put you down quickly even in good weather.

Find A Dry Path: Trucks and cars clear paths when they drive, pushing away water and other debris. Ride in their tire tracks, but that doesn’t mean tailgate them. You need to give yourself extra room to brake in the rain.

As always, remember to have fun! Riding a motorcycle is a drastically different experience than driving a car, and they’re meant to be enjoyed. Humboldt is a beautiful place to explore, from the ocean to the forests there are no shortages of great views, and the rain doesn’t need to deter you from that experience.

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