Riding in the monsoon comes with its own set of challenges.
Monsoon always brings a relief from the sweltering heat and calls for motorcycle rides in the rain. However, one has to be extra careful while riding in the rain. The flooded streets, low visibility and slippery roads complicate riding in the wet. However, to make sure you ride safely, here are five things you should be aware of before you twist that throttle in the rain.
The proverb, ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ holds good for motorcycles as well. Regular servicing not only extends the life of your motorcycle, but also prevents your ride from falling apart when you are dependent on it the most. Ensure the tyres are inflated to recommended pressures and not generic values which petrol pumps use ever so often. Make sure the tread depth is adequate so that water molecules can escape through easily. Bald tyres result in aquaplaning which is extremely dangerous as this phenomenon involves the formation of a thin layer of water between the road and the tyre and prevents the tyre from coming into contact with the ground. Make sure there are no exposed wires as it could short circuit the electrical system. Also, check whether the brakes are working properly and check the brake-pad thickness and ensure it is not faded. The efficiency of faded brakes drops considerably and it is even riskier in rains. When not in use, cover up the bike using a waterproof bike cover so that the bike doesn’t get wet unnecessarily.
Rains often bring the visibility level down and the combination of rain and fog worsens it further. The first and the most important thing to do in such conditions is to ride slow. Keep left and maintain a steady pace so that it is easy to scan the road ahead for potholes, oil slicks or any other surprises. Make sure the headlight and the tail-light of the motorcycle are always on. This aids in visibility. Do not tail-gate as it is a recipe for disaster in case the vehicle in front of you makes any sudden and risky manoeuvres. Always keep at least two-car lengths of distance between you and the vehicle ahead. This way, you will have adequate reaction time in case anything untoward happens. Wet roads increase the braking distance considerably so be careful while applying brakes. It also increases the chances of locking up the discs. Hence, careful modulating of the brake lever is of paramount importance.
Thanks to technology, planning the route ahead to your destination is much easier than it was ten years ago. Google Maps can be used for the same and it also helps to keep an ear out for the radio. Many radio stations give an update of flooded/dangerous/congested roads after the rains. It is always better to take diversions than to risk your life to save time and petrol. If you’re riding through a familiar neighbourhood, make sure you stay away from low-lying areas.
If the worst comes to the worst and if you’re left with no choice but to wade through flooded roads, ensure you ride the bike in the first gear only. The high engine speed prevents water from entering through the exhaust pipe. Let the clutch slip a bit if you want to slow down, but make sure the engine keeps revving so that there’s no chance for the water to enter inside. Keep an eye out for the tire-lines of the vehicles ahead of you so that if they go over a pothole, you’ll know where the pothole is and can actively avoid it.
Wearing Rain Gear:
Invest in good quality water-proof riding jacket, pants, gloves and boots. They help you keep yourself dry and comfortable enough for you to focus on the road. Wearing a high-visibility jacket on top of the riding jacket considerably enhances the rider’s visibility on the road, especially at night times. If you’re carrying a backpack, invest in a backpack rain cover or if the budget is tight, two plastic covers, covering both ends of the bag will do. Use a bungee cord to secure the covered backpack to the pillion seat or the fuel tank. Always wear a full-face helmet with a clear visor. Tinted ones look cool, but aren’t safe enough to be used in rainy/foggy/low-light conditions. Applying a thin layer of wax on the visor will help water trickle down slightly more effectively and keep the visibility optimised. Keep a dry cloth handy to periodically wipe the visor. Avoid riding in heavy rains as things can get really unpredictable.
These simple tips coupled with general alertness can make riding a lot safer in the rains. Ride safe and ride responsibly!