The weather these days has been really unpredictable. It can be all great and sunny in the morning, prompting you to gear up and ride out of town to get a quick fix. But later, the sky darkens and unleashes a crazy downpour complete with thunder and lightning that will leave you soaked and cursing your decision to get out of bed. Rainy months like August and September are not really ideal for leisure riding, especially for those who like to travel around with an SLR camera or smartphone in tow wherever they go.
My personal advice on riding in the rain–especially for newbies or if you’re just doing it for leisure purposes–is DON’T. The poor visibility and slippery roads can be really dangerous especially in mountain roads like Marilaque. But for some, riding in the rain is not a matter of choice, especially if this is their main means of transport. Others brave the downpour because they just need to ride no matter what the weather conditions are. Some even find riding in the rain an enjoyable experience.
Travel Up asked tips from a few experienced riders to compile this set of rainy day motorcycle riding tips. Thanks very much to Edmar of Edmaration #Town Explorer, Doms de la Torre of Rider Ako & Jerard Gonzales of Alamat Crewsers for contributing your tips and photos for this post!
1. THE BASICS
- Check tires, brakes and lights before heading out. Be sure the bike is in good condition.
- Wear full protective gear. Helmets are a must.
- Relax when you ride in the rain. If you tense up, your muscles may get cramps.
Legazpi Wet Ride, December 2011. Mayon Volcano should be in the background. Photo courtesy of Riderako
2. TAKE IT SLOW
- Ride at a slower pace especially if you’re not familiar with the road you’re on.
- There’s no need to rush as roads can be slippery.
- Be sure to leave a small distance from vehicles in front of you.
- Use the rear brake more often for slowing down.
- Beware of deep potholes lurking under the floodwaters.
- Be careful when driving over painted lines on the road, metal strips and manholes on the road.
- Watch out for rainbow colored patches on the wet road – these are signs of an oil slick. Drizzles or light rainshowers bring out the oil on the road, making the surface more slippery.
- Watch out for road signs keenly especially if you’re hitting a mountain road with risks for landslides and even falling rocks. These road signs serve as reasonable warning.
Calatagan, Batangas rainy ride. Photo courtesy of Alamat Crewsers.
4. BE PREPARED WITH THE PROPER RAIN GEAR
- Plastic bags are a must for your belongings!
- Use 2-piece rain suits! Don’t go for ponchos. Sure, it only takes a minute, but they can act as sails that catch the wind when you ride. You may get blown off the road or you will get snagged on a jeepney as you split lanes.
- Do not wrap plastic bags on your shoes. You need all the traction and control you can get if you need to stop abruptly. Rain-soaked footwear is acceptable on rainy days.
- Invest in a good pair of riding boots.
- If your helmet has no visor, wear a scarf or hanky.
Proper riding gear is a must. Photos courtesy of RiderAko.
5. BE VISIBLE
- Know when to use hazard lights and when to turn them off to actually show you are passing or making a turn.
- Avoid using your headlights’ high beams. If you can’t see, slow down!
- Planning on installing HID ultra bright white to see better? Don’t bother. White light gets scattered by the rain and fog. Only thing you’ll see is a curtain of raindrops or a wall of fog.
“If you want that pot of gold, you gotta ride through the rain…” — Photo courtesy of Jerard Gonzales.
6. TAKE SHELTER IF NEEDED
- If it rains suddenly but you can still ride, stop for a while to secure your belongings (phones, wallets, etc.) in plastic bags before proceeding. If it’s almost zero-visibility, take shelter immediately.
- Rain may trigger landslides and floods, so don’t park along hillside roads.
- Don’t stay under trees. Tree branches may fall when raining especially if there are rotten branches.
- If there’s lightning and you’re on a high mountain road, don’t seek a shelter under a tall tree. Stay away from metal waiting sheds too.
7. DO NOT PUSH BEYOND YOUR LIMITS
- If you choose to ride in the rain, be sure not to push beyond what you can endure. If you start getting the chills, stop because you risk getting hypothermia.
Edmar during an Ilocos Sur-Abra Road then Abra-Kalinga Road ride (June 2012).
According to Edmar of Town Explorer, riding in the rain is still a personal choice. While he personally finds it enjoyable at times, he says that if there’s a high possibility of getting sick or getting into an accident, then it’s not worth it. He sums up the riding perspective perfectly:
” Motorcycle riding under the rain is not a basis for determining who is more adventurous or who is ‘cool’. Do not do it because your riding buddies do it. “
Additional photos courtesy of Edmar Guquib, Doms de la Torre, Jerard Gonzales and Alamat Crewsers Motorcycle Club