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Riding in the rain

Hey welcome to weekly rides! It’s Reuben! Weekly rides with Reuben are uploaded every Wednesday and they’re a random collection of motorcycle reviews, motorcycle adventures and life on two wheels.

Today we’re on a Triumph Bonneville, back on the old Bonnie and today’s topic is gonna be riding in the rain! Suitable topic for a bike that’s built in the U.K. right? All our British fans can chime in about how it rains there all the time. You know we get rain pretty often here in the Carolinas as well and riding in the rain brings its own set of challenges, so we’re gonna hop aboard the Bonnie here! See if we can, kill the choke there, now that we’re warmed up and go for a little ride. Let’s talk about riding in the rain and the challenges that it brings. Definitely a different set of rules to follow when you’re riding in the rain. And I apologize if it’s hard to see during this video because obviously when it rains, fog becomes an issue. And I do coat this shield with an anti-fog coating and it looks like it’s time for a new coat because that, I can’t even see, so leave it open for a minute here. A lot of times you just have to kind of leave your helmet cracked to allow for some air to flow up into the face shield so that you can actually see alright. So visibility, let’s talk about that first. That’s one of the key things with riding in the rain, is obviously you have limited visibility with rain on your visor. And more importantly, other drivers around you have limited visibility, so more than ever, you really have to ride like you’re invisible. And you may notice that I’m wearing a high vis jacket today and that is not by accident. I want to be seen, I want to make sure that other people out on the road with me are aware of my presence and definitely having some bright gear can help to alert them that there’s a rider, but even having said that; a lot of drivers are not conscientious of a motorcycle’s ability in the rain or in the wet, and they’ll end up following you too closely or turning in front of you anyway. And yeah that’s definitely no fun, you don’t want to be taken by surprise, so you have to be extra vigilant during wet weather riding, to make sure that you’re reading traffic really well. Both cars in front and behind you and coming out from the side roads. You’re basically always wanting to increase your following distance and that’s because of limited traction. And that’s obviously something else we need to talk about.

With wet weather and wet roads comes reduced traction. Actually the first hour or so that it starts raining is the worst. When it first starts raining, if the roads have been dry and they haven’t been rained on in a while, a lot of grime and oil from cars get deposited on the road. You know, as roads are used and then in that first hour or so of rainy weather, all of that oil kind of rises to the surface and it makes the road extra slippery. The other thing you’re going to really have to watch for and read is the types of road surfaces that you’re going over. Anytime you see painted lines like here where we see the railroad crossing, painted on the road or railroad crossings themselves like the ones we’re about to go across, you know anything that’s metal, manhole covers, railroad tracks, obviously you want to cross those with the bike as upright as possible. It’s not possible to avoid every slippery surface out there, but it’s definitely important to read every surface and be aware of how it might affect the handling of your bike. So let’s talk about how you do that because there are varying levels of traction. You’d be surprised how well modern motorcycles do in the wet. Yeah, obviously you can look at your tires and make sure you have plenty of tread depth. You don’t want tires that are extremely worn or bald or you don’t want to be out there on race flicks obviously. You want a good, deep groove because what that does, it allows water to be evacuated away from the tire and allows the tire to come into contact with the road. Now motorcycle tires are round in profile obviously, which is very different from a car tire, so it’s a lot less likely for a motorcycle, especially a heavier street bike, to hydroplane. I’m not saying it’s impossible, it can happen, but it’s a lot less likely to happen than it is on a car with much wider, flat tires, and four of them at that. So don’t worry too much about hydroplaning and keeping the bike upright in most situations is going to be much better than being leaned over. So trying to keep the bike a little more upright, which means reducing your speed a little more around corners, and you’re using my English, so you’re leaning off the side to keep the bike upright a little bit better. Another time too, anytime you have reduced traction would just be smooth, really smooth inputs on the brakes, on the clutch, on the throttle, especially when you’re leaving lights, things like that, you want to have very smooth inputs to the motorcycle. Anything sudden or jerky can lead to wheel spin or skidding and obviously when you only have two wheels under you, for most people a slide or a skid results in a crash. Depending on how much experience you’ve got and experience is another thing that is really a big part of the equation. You know, getting used to riding in the rain is definitely a worthwhile endeavor. Get out there and practice in it! It’s a good habit to have. You know, if you’re out there riding your motorcycle and you get caught in the rain, you don’t have to stop! Riding in the rain can actually be very enjoyable! Now being prepared for wet weather is definitely another good trait. Having the right gear is very nice. Obviously you want gear that’s going to keep you warm and dry because as soon as you get wet, especially if it’s really cold out, you’re going to probably end up pretty miserable, so having some good waterproof gloves, waterproof jacket, waterproof boots, waterproof pants and then above all, on top of all that, you can out on a good rain suit, which will definitely do a much better job keeping you dry than all of the aforementioned gear. Rain suits are kind of your first line of defense, so if you know that it’s going to really rain on you, it’s a good idea to throw that rain suit on ahead of time before it actually starts raining.

You see, I’m kind of avoiding those painted arrows and as I roll onto the throttle, out of the corners, I’m kind of allowing the bike to stand up a little more before I really give it much throttle and I’m really smoothly rolling the throttle on and I’m always listening to the engine speed. It’s another thing you really have to kind of get in tune with on a motorcycle, is what your bike actually sounds like as it takes off and if you hear the engine kind of start to wind up faster then you’re actually accelerating, I’ll kind of fake it with the clutch area. If I’m accelerating and suddenly I hear, *engine sounds* like that, you know I just pulled in the clutch but you can actually hear that sound if your tire starts spinning up and if you feel that, you’ve got to really be careful that you kind of carefully ease back off the throttle. Definitely don’t make any sudden movement, don’t suddenly chop the throttle and again, keep the bike as upright as possible. You might even have to kind of countersteer into the skid a little bit if you actually feel the rear end start to slide around a little. Now that’s fairly extreme but I will say that it can happen and really take you by surprise. I’ve been cruising along before at 50 miles an hour or so, just like this. Steady throttle, nothing crazy. Going about 40 right now, but if I was going a little faster, (this actually happened to me), my rear end started to just rrrrng and my back end just slid all over the place. I’m not sure if there was something on the road or if it was just the type of road surface that I was on, but it was absolutely terrifying! It sent me into a tank slapper up on my CRX and I luckily pulled out of it. I kind of rolled off and the bike kind of wheeled and set me straight again, but it felt like about a hundred yards of just sliding all over the place. Alright, well I have to get on the freeway here. You’re just going to be extra careful about the cars around you. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of space. Obviously right now I’m not dealing with too much traffic, but always be reading well ahead of what other cars normally would be reading. So I’m looking at this as far as I can see and the other thing I’ll say is be careful who you follow! If you’re following a van or a big SUV or semi truck, you can’t see past them very far, especially if you’re right behind them. So you always want to kind of position yourself so you have good line of sight and you can see far enough ahead to read the traffic ahead of you. You can’t trust the guy in front of you to be paying attention. He might be texting or changing the radio station, while all of the cars ahead are piling up and wrecking and then suddenly he crashes into somebody and then you have absolutely no time to react. So you always want to leave yourself plenty of room so that you know what’s happening up ahead and you can see it well ahead of time. In fact, you’ll probably know that he’s going to have to start slowing down before he even realizes it. You’ll have read the cards better than he did, so always keep that in mind. Lane position is always something you should be mindful of. On the interstate, it’s not as much of a concern, but especially on side streets, well go ahead and hop off the interstate. You really want to avoid the center of the lane because that’s where the most oil is being dropped. It is true on the interstate but where cars are stopping, like a street lights, color booths, anywhere where cars might be coming to a stop frequently, you really have to be careful that you’re not sitting right there where that oil is, because that’s where you’ll find very, very little traction and you know, either leaving from the light or coming to a stop, you might really find yourself with a nasty surprise of having no traction. Let’s also talk about braking, because obviously traction is going to directly affect your braking, but beyond that, wet weather is going to affect your brake’s performance.

Especially if you go through puddles like these. See? I’m splashing through there. Water splashes up onto your brake rotors and pads and when that happens, you’re going to have reduced braking power available. So before you need to stop, it’s a good idea to kind of drag the brakes a little bit and kind of gradually slow yourself. And that kind of cleans the brakes off so that you’ll have a little bit better braking power. Personally, I still use both the front and rear brakes in wet weather and that’s definitely a good habit to have using both brakes. Again, just be really smooth and be mindful that your controls themselves might actually be a little slippery. Your boot might slip off your brake pedal, so make sure your boots are right over the brake pedal. You’re not kind of sliding into the side there and just gradually ease onto both. Now if you feel like there’s really, really sketchy surface. You’re kind of not sure about how much traction there is and maybe it’s really slick, then I might really bias towards using the rear brakes because if you lock up the rear and slide that a little bit, it’s not as dramatic as if you lock up the front. If you lock up the front, it doesn’t take much for you to hit the ground., because as soon as the front locks, it’s going to wash out one way or the other and you’ll end up on the ground. So just constantly read the pavement, the surfaces. You know, different types of surfaces, whether is asphalt, concrete, chip seal, there’s all kinds of different asphalt surfaces that you might be riding over and other kinds of things that are spilled on the pavement, you know, whether it’s oil or fuel or who knows what, stuff gets dropped on the road all the time. You just have to be really careful that, you know, you’re aware that you could lose traction. Now on a good surface, like the one we have here, you’d be surprised how much traction there is. Or on a racetrack, I’ve done track days where it started raining and you those fast guys are still going around the track on proper tires appropriate for the conditions and they are, you know, still getting a knee down, flying around the track. I mean, you guys have seen motorGP, so you know, it’s not impossible to go fast, but we’re not on the racetrack here, we’re on the street and it’s a good idea to check your ego at the door and slow down and really just be careful of what cars around you are doing.

Now I’ll purposely keep an eye on my mirror, like I usually do, but I’ll also wait until there’s extra room before I go, instead of darting out. You should obviously never dart in front of cars but a lot of times, there’s just enough room to kind of square out. But when it’s wet out, you don’t really want to try and square anything. You wanna just be smooth so give yourself a little bit of extra room, both in braking and also in accelerating out, in front of, into traffic and things like that. You can’t just get real ham-fisted with throttle, like some you might in regular, dry riding conditions. So we talk about gear, I’m actually wearing some Tourmaster heated gloves that I don’t have plugged in, these are the synergy gloves, but they are waterproof so my hands are nice and dry and they’re insulated, so they’re warm. I have the Arrow Moto road pro jacket on and the sliders adventure pants, which have Kevlar in them. They’re also waterproof. It’s about 40 degrees right now, a little bit rainy. Obviously getting wet. The outside of your gear will end up soaking up quite a bit of water. The inner liner is typically what is built in to keep you dry, but obviously that can be cold so…We’re gonna head back down to the shop here. I’d love to hear your experiences in wet weather riding.

You know, whether you’re a fair weather rider who got caught out one day or maybe you took a 5,000 mile trip last summer or if you’re just a regular, old commuter. I ride my motorcycle to work as often as possible and it’s just about inevitable to end up riding in the rain. You know, it might be beautiful on the way in and then I’ll end up getting soaked on the way home. That’s just part of life on a motorcycle. So if you have any experiences to relate, as far as riding through the rain and wet weather, you can leave them in the comments there. And don’t forget, weekly rides with Reuben are uploaded every Wednesday. Make sure you rate, comment and subscribe! Once we get some nice weather, we’ll get back on some brand new bikes and do some more motorcycle reviews. Last week, it as snowing. This week, it’s raining. Maybe next week, I’ll get to ride through a hailstorm, we’ll see. Maybe nobody warned you, but when you become a motorcyclist, you have to kind of become a meteorologist as well. You get very familiar with the radar screen. I would love if you would rate, comment and subscribe to our channel, so you can stay up to date on our latest product reviews and of course, weekly rides with Reuben. If you have anything to add, again comment sections open. Stay safe out there on two wheels guys! See you next week! So I just came to a stop at the interstate here and right off the exit here, you can see that kind of like bluish haze on the surface. Kind of a rainbow spot, that’s oil. Oil has leaked out of a vehicle onto the road there and there’s another spot over there and those are things you want to avoid. Do not want to ride over that! It is slippery.

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