Friday, 17 June 2011

Let it rain - Riding Motorcycles When It's Wet

One of the biggest turn-off to any biker is a slippery asphalt, the reason being, it takes away the pleasure of riding, you keep thinking how miserable you are in the rain, rather than concentrating on the roads.


Typically, Indian roads are ...  well, how do i put it gently,.. not the ideal place to ride a bike after a  shower, the dust turns to mud, making the roads slippery and mucky. Many people skid and twist their wrist, or may be break a bone or something.. due to the lack of proper traction and technique.


Although if you are among the category of people who love riding in the rain, or among the category of people who do not have a choice, a few things if kept in mind and followed, can make your ride as interesting and exciting as any other on a sunny day would.


1. Proper Gear :
- Purchasing a water proof/water resistant riding jacket would be the ideal choice, but would take its toll on the pocket. A proper rain suit would suffice, not only it keeps you dry, it would also keep you comfortable.


- A pair of waterproof gloves and boots, if the gloves are tucked under the cuff of the jacket/suit, it'd prevent water from getting inside, also the boots should cover the ankle, you get what you pay for.


- A full face helmet is a must, rain drop hurt above 60 km/h, you should have something to cover your face with. a clear visor is a thumbs up. If in case you have an open face helmet, its advisable to cover the face with a bandanna.


After you have the right gear, riding motorcycles in the rain is no longer uncomfortable or miserable. Riding in the rain becomes a simple thing and perhaps, enjoyable.


2. Avoiding a few things on the road


-Puddles, they seem fun to ride into, but are risky because the bed cannot be seen, there may be stones, ditch or a manhole. I've even seen car drivers going in a puddle without realizing how deep it is at low lying places, and many stalling their engines. Its always better to avoid them, or analyze them before going in.


-Rails at Railway crossings and manhole covers : If not entered at the right angle, they can be a real pain in the ass. They tend to become very slippery in the rains. Its better not to lean even a little tiny bit when passing over the rails or the manhole covers. entering flat/straight would be the best bet.


-Painted Lines at the center of the road can be very deceptive. They are slippery as hell, and if you do enter one while leaning, you are sure to taste the asphalt. The best Bet here is to slow down and take it easy


-Never lock your wheel, unless you want to determine the traction, because a locked wheel is no good in on a wet surface, rather if the brakes are applied gradually, the stopping distance would greatly reduce.


3. Tires (In-Depth)


The most important part for being in control are the tires.
There are many tires in the market for all sort of applications.


Theory:
Hydroplaning or aquaplaning by the tires occurs when a layer of water builds between the rubber tires of the vehicle and the road surface, leading to the loss of traction and thus preventing the vehicle from responding to control inputs such as steering, braking or accelerating.
- Water cannot be compressed and has to be dispersed. Many tires have special tread design which help in channelizing the water away from the contact patch. Which is a must for good wet traction. 

Tire Type:
Most Indian bikes are company fitted with MRF Zappers. The truth about these tires are that these are medium~hard compound tires, supposed to last typically around 30000-40000 Kms. Although the dry grip is average, the wet grip is not up to the mark.
The best bet would be to get your bike a pair of aftermarket tires. There are many tires available for better wet grip. Rib design tires are well known for good wet traction.
The emphasis is on the Front tire here, because the front is responsible for guiding the vehicle, and if it  loses traction, most probably you'd end up kissing the asphalt.
some of the tires with good to excellent wet grip are:

Nylogrip Zapper C
Good for city condition.
Riding on even Roads.
Good Wet traction and water channeling
medium compound.












Nylogrip Moto D
Good for riding in muddy areas.
Good wet traction.
medium~hard compound.
excellent water channeling.












Dunlop / Falcon Maxirib

This design is usually better for control and water channeling.
Soft Compound
Excellent wet traction









Dunlop Mystery

Good wet grip , with excellent maneuverability around corners
Soft compound











Dunlop Zebra Y plus

Soft compound.
Good wet grip and excellent dry grip.
extended shoulders provide good cornering grip












Michelin M45

  • less tread movement and vibration
  • Similar Tread design to race rain tires helps contribute to excellent wet road traction
  • Good maneuverability and stability in various riding conditions with excellent dry and wet grip.
  • Robust tyre structure for resistance against punctures and exceptional durability.
  • Soft compound
  • 2.75 - 18 48S REINF TT
  • 3.00 - 18 52S REINF TT
    3.25 - 18 59S REINF TT
    4.00 - 18 64S TT



  • Typically, soft~medium compound tires last around 15000~25000 Kms, and are a tad bit expensive than the long lasting hard compound tires, but are worth the money. You would curse the wet/slippery roads if you have the wrong tires on your bike.

  • Tire Pressure: 
  • People often advice others to bump down the tire pressure by 3-5 Psi. Lemme tell you folks, this the a common misconception and never do it if you want to avoid a nasty fall.
  • The less the contact patch is, the more is the pressure, and more pressure means, better water channeling and decreased possibility of hydroplaning. Its advisable to keep the tire pressure higher than usual by 3-5 psi to increase the traction.

  • Also, tires tend to loose traction if more stressed, i.e. accelerating and leaning at the same time, downshifting while starting to lean, applying the brakes while downshifting , try doing things one at a time, to avoid loosing traction and control over your machine.

  • The roads are more slippery during the initial 10 to 15 minutes of downpour. Take a break, and get ready to enjoy the rainy season on 2 wheels.

3 comments:

  1. Nice write up, tires explained really well.

    ReplyDelete
  2. awesome tips..thanks a ton!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow .... Thanks for sharing ..... am an amateur rider and these tips are so handy when it comes to understanding the basics of safe riding. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete