Driver Knowledge Tests

Wet weather motorbike riding tips

Riding your motorbike in the wet requires that you change your riding technique slightly and pay more attention to the road ahead.

Grip levels

When it just starts raining after a period of dry weather, the road will be very slippery. When it’s been raining a while it washes the grime away and the road regains some of its grip, but not all. You will need to be especially careful of metal manhole covers, and larger areas of painted road markings and lines.

It’s much easier to skid in wet conditions because grip is reduced. Fast changes of directions, heavy acceleration, leaning to far or braking to heavily could cause you to skid. As it’s more slippery, make sure your rear braking is done with the clutch out.

Acceleration: be smooth with your throttle movements. In wet weather you will get a more progressive breakaway with rear wheel skids. You need to learn to recognise these so that you can back off the throttle rather than causing yourself a highside accident.

Braking: take care changing down because the extra engine braking coupled with your back brake power could cause a rear-wheel skid. In the wet it can take up to twice as long to stop. Most motorbikes don’t have anti-lock brakes. Make sure that you brake while you are upright, not leaning.

Aquaplaning: in deeper areas of standing water the tyres can ride up on the top of it and it will lift your bike off the road, meaning you have no grip. Watch for puddles on the inside of corners and also where vehicles have formed long compressed areas of the tarmac.

Vehicles around you

If other drivers are tailgating you, you will need to leave more gap between you and the vehicle in front so that they don’t run into the back of you.

Avoid riding in vehicles’ blind spots (see below). When following a vehicle, remember that you’ll need more braking distance. Try to look at the vehicle in front of the vehicle you are following so that you can anticipate what’s going to happen.

Scanning

Because braking distances are longer, standing water can be a problem, and road furniture such as manhole covers can be slippery you will need to look much further ahead for these things.

Slippery controls

Your brake pedal and foot pegs can become slippery in wet weather, especially if they are worn. Some boots are worse than others for this.

Blind spots

Other driver’s blind spots increase in wet weather because wipers are not available on every window, and don’t cover 100% of the windows they are on. Spray can mask your position, and overcast weather provides less light. Wear decent protective clothing with a high-visibility vest.

If your visor is covered in water spots it will be more difficult to see out of, too.

Diesel spills

Watch for diesel and oil on the road. You can sometimes see the edges of the slick and if the slick is big enough you’ll smell it. Do not use your front brake. Close the throttle, keep the clutch out and use a small amount of back brake. If you detect it start to skid, release the brake. When you change down, release the clutch gently so that you don’t lock the back wheel with engine braking.

This technique also applies for riding on black ice.

Questions in the Rider Knowledge Test about wet weather riding

When riding on a wet or slippery road riders should:

When a road is wet the most slippery part is likely to be:

When cornering on a wet or slippery surface riders should:

Darren is an expert on driving and transport, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists

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Posted in Advice, Motorbike
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