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I’ve had several instances when I’ve been riding my motorcycle and was caught in a rain storm. Sometimes I forgot to put my motorcycle in the garage, and it ended up in the driveway without a cover. A lot of people worry about their motorcycle’s health when it gets wet like that.
Is it okay for a motorcycle get wet? Motorcycles are designed to be wet. It is OK for it to be rained on whether in the driveway or while you’re riding it. Excessive exposure to water can eventually lead to damage to your bike.
If you’re a frequent rider, it’s inevitable you’ll get caught in inclement weather. While a good water rinse doesn’t cause damage, there are things to think about when your motorcycle gets caught in the rain and/or snow.
What could happen to your motorcycle after long exposure to water?
Occasional exposure to water won’t cause damage to a motorcycle. Many people ask about the potential damage that water can cause to a motorcycle. Remember that water can take a long time to cause damage to your motorcycle.
Your motorcycle will start to have problems if it is left outside for too long. This could mean that you aren’t covered in heavy rain storms or cover for several months. Even though motorcycles are meant to be wetted, there is still the possibility of water damage to some parts.
Water will be able to find it’s way into your carbs and into your engine. You will not be able to start your motorcycle if the oil gets into your engine. It is possible for water to mix with your engine’s oil and you will need an oil change.
The motorcyce that I purchased had been sitting so long, and there was so much water inside, that mold had grown in it! I had to get rid of large pieces of green and brown growth while rebuilding the engine.
Rust can be a serious concern once water is introduced to metal parts. Rust can cause engine seize. Though that’s fixable, it’s still a headache. Water can also trap any dirt and grime, which will cause problems. “gunk.” You’ll probably need to rebuild your carbs and do a thorough clean up.
If you have a lubrication chain, water can eventually cause it to become dry. It’s dangerous to ride a motorcycle without a lubricated chain so its important to have routine check-ups. If you’re worried about your chain lacking lubrication, go ahead and lube it.
Water may also find it’s way into your motorcycle tank and in the fuel lines. Your motorcycle will not run off of gas that’s mixed with water, in fact this can be incredibly dangerous to have ANY water in your gas tank.
When water is introduced to the combustion chamber, the water molecules will ignite and flash off. Water boils and expands tremendously when it reaches boiling point. This massive pressure jump can crack pistons or seize engines. You should expect to fill your tank if your motorcycle has been sitting in the rain for months without any rides.
There are a few practices you can start now to ensure your motorcycle doesn’t get any damage from water exposure. Keep it inside a garage or shed any time you’re not riding it. If you don’t have either of those, purchase a quality cover for your motorcycle to keep out any water (see my recommended motorcycle cover here).
You should inspect your motorcycle every so often. You can sand or paint any rusty spots to stop it from spreading.
Is it unsafe to ride a motorcycle through the rain?
People also worry about riding their motorcycles in the rain, especially when they are caught in an unplanned rainstorm. If it hasn’t happened to you, chances are it’ll happen eventually.
Though riding your motorcycle in a rain storm isn’t the most ideal situation to be in, it isn’t necessarily dangerous. Hydroplaning is the most dangerous aspect of riding in rain.
Hydroplaning refers to when a tire/set of tires loses grip on the road from water. This can cause the tire or set to slip or drift. If you’re taking good care of your motorcycle and don’t have bald tires, you should be fine. Take care to not speed up in the rain or snow. Because motorcycles are so light, hydroplaning is often easier than with a car. You can read my article for more information about hydroplaning on motorcycles.
It’s really easy to tense up while riding a motorcycle in the rain and become skiddish because it’s a scary experience. Remain calm and safe while driving.
If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle in the rain, maybe try it a time or two. Like I mentioned before, you’ll get caught in a rain storm sooner or later unexpectedly. Having practice riding in the rain in a controlled environment will help you during those times you’re hit with the surprise inclement weather.
How to ride a motorcycle in the rain
Your chances of getting in an accident will be greatly reduced if you are prepared for rainstorms while riding your motorcycle. It’s easy to disregard caution while it’s wet, but that idea is what causes motorcycle accidents.
You should try to ride on the dryest part of your lane. Every road is different. Be aware of low spots and puddles, and don’t cross them. I prefer to stay in the slow lane, and then put on my emergency flashers. A lot of motorcycles don’t have emergency flashers, in that scenario I just switch my blinkers back and forth so it catches people’s attention. The greatest risk in a rainstorm isn’t the rain, it’s other drivers not paying attention.
Avoid driving over any paint. This includes all symbols and yellow lines. This paint is extremely slippery, making it easy to slide a motorcycle.
Avoid driving in puddles, if at all possible. This will increase your chances of hydroplaning especially if you’re riding at higher speeds. You also don’t know what’s beneath the puddle; it could possibly be a pot hole. You should slow down if you can’t avoid it and be careful.
If you’re riding your motorcycle while it’s dry and it begins to rain, be extra cautious and slow down. A rainstorm can cause a new mixture of all the oil and dirt on roads, making it more slippery. Avoid rainbow-colored puddles. This is an indicator of mixed oils.
You should be able to travel farther than other vehicles. Plan on breaking a lot sooner than you would when it’s dry. Water gets up into the braking system and can cause a delay with your motorcycle’s brake reaction.
To increase visibility, always keep your headlight on during a rain storm, even if it’s still light outside. Rain hinders other driver’s ability to see motorcyclists; your head light can alert other divers that you are present as well as help you see better.
How to Stay Dry When Riding a Motorcycle in the Rain
It’ll be difficult to always stay dry while riding in the rain because there is literally water everywhere. This is especially relevant if you’re surprised with a rain storm. If you know you’ll be riding your motorcycle in the rain, here are a few tips on how to stay dry.
Use a helmet that covers your entire face when riding a motorcycle. Water constantly splashing in your face at high speeds is a nuisance and dangerous. A full-face helmet can help you with this. Rain-X can also be used on the outside of your face shield. This will keep water from splashing on it and will improve your visibility. Apply anti-fog treatment to the inside of your shield.
Use a raincoat Although a poncho might work, something that is tight around your wrists as well as your waist will make all the difference. Your riding experience will be a lot more enjoyable if you have waterproof gloves and boots.
Wear high-visibility clothing if you can. Bright colors like neon yellow, green or orange are a great way for drivers to see you in a storm. Put a colored reflective vest over your coat. Or, you could opt for a high-visibility raincoat with reflectors.
How tall must you be to ride a bike? You need to be able and confident to safely ride a motorcycle. Your feet should touch the ground on each side with your toes. You can read my article for more details.
Are hand signals required when riding a motorcycle? Hand signals are not necessary when riding a motorcycle. This is especially true if your blinkers and lights work. However, it’s good to be aware of the basic signs in case your lights go out.