PSA - riding in the rain and braking
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Thread: PSA - riding in the rain and braking

  1. #1
    medicated 4 ur protection Array syncro's Avatar
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    PSA - riding in the rain and braking

    just some thoughts from my ride in the rain last night.

    first off, i don't consider myself a great rider but a fairly competent street rider who has some advanced rider training and track day experience (note - not racing experience). one of the things i pride myself on with my riding is making the effort to be aware of the riding conditons (weather, traffic, etc) AND questioning how that info will affect my control of the machine.

    so last night the rain, wet streets and my limited visibility - both of what i can see and how well other road users can see me - were in my head as i started out. one of the first things i wanted to check was traction of the front end, so before i got onto any main streets with appreciable traffic i tested the traction of the front end at low speed via some controlled hard stops (gradual squeezing of the brake lever) and then via a few sudden ham fist-full grabbing of the front brakes just to see what the front end was going to do and to get an idea of where my traction limit was. being satisfied with the results i set off.

    on the main route home i also did a few more harder stops just to keep sense of where my traction limit was. it wasn't until i got to my last left turn where i had a bit of an oh-crap moment coming up to a stop sign on a slight downhill. everywhere else the same amount of braking hadn't caused me any issues, but at this one location the front end locked up and the wheel start to wash-out of slip sideways. one thing i noticed with being on the cruiser is that the body positioning made it easier to stomp a foot down for a bit of support/balance, but whether it made a difference at all is hard to say. but the key thing, is that due to my previous attempts at purposely locking up the front end and knowing when the bike would react and more importantly how the bike would feel i immediately let off the brake to let the bike straighten itself out before going for the brake again. i was on-off the brake three times before i finally came to a stop, about a bike length past where i should have stopped. this practice and familiarity (both at the start of this ride and at other times as well) with hard stops/momentarily locking up the front end at low speed is what helped to keep me from panicking and going down in a heap.

    the interesting thing is that everywhere else i'd ridden that night i had no issues. so in this particular spot something was different, contaminants on the road maybe. this moring i found myself in the same spot in the cage and decided to do a little test and voila! that same small section of pavement had the cage locking up the tires as well. as to the cause i don't think it really matters all that much. what's important is that i was ready as i had adjusted my riding style for the conditions and was prepared for the likelihood of the tires locking up because of a little bit of practice at low speed before hand. i think if i had not done these two things chances are i'd be nursing some road rash this morning.

    so my message in all of this?

    1. be aware of the riding conditions and really think about how you need adjust your control of the machine to meet the those conditions

    2. get a feel/sense for the bikes traction limits in the current conditions by doing some low speed brake grabs before you get going in a safe environment

    3. pratice #2 on regular basis so you're never left surprised if you're suddenly faced with an unexpected lock-up and can react to it if necessary
    *** every move should be calculated ***

    Quote Originally Posted by sAdam View Post
    Most everyone on here is worth a laugh or has a good insight at one time or another, even syncro.

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  3. #2
    Fastronaut Array Danke's Avatar
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    When I'm stopped at a light etc. I like to squirm the sole of my boot against the pavement.

    Usual caveats apply, don't do this and tip over etc.

    I'll do this in the warm and dry, it the wet, and so on. It give me a good feel for what sort of grip there is.

  4. #3
    Registered User Array Lokheed's Avatar
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    I don't think there are any hard and fast rules to riding in the rain. In fact, I don't think I've ever ridden in the rain without sliding or being put in a compromising position. Either my front slipped or my rear fishtailed. Never gone down but it's made me avoid it at all costs (plus I like to keep my bike mint).

    And that's just you and the terrain. Never mind those assholes that tailgate in their mini vans or SUVs. Or cut you off with a half a car's length. To me, riding in the rain is just asking for trouble, skilled or not.

  5. #4
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    A thank you for the O.P. for sharing. But for noobies, note that Syncros is an experienced mountain bike rider, in addition to being a motorcyclist. His understanding and experience for traction would be advanced (at the very least, not a beginner's level). The likelihood for him be doing the right things should be pretty high when he senses the onset of sliding. Not so much for beginner riders, though.

    For newer riders, I believe it would be best to practice a whole bunch in a parking lot first before attempting anything on the streets. Crashing is a very likely scenario for a beginner when he or she comes close to the traction limit.

  6. #5
    Fastronaut Array Danke's Avatar
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    If I had to choose;

    A) Riding in the dry but on roads packed with clueless idiots.

    or;

    B) Riding in the rain on roads that are empty of traffic.

    I would pick the rain. Every time.

  7. #6
    corner worker Array solo soldier's Avatar
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    You forgot to mention leaf slim, it seems that some leaves can leave a slim on the road when they get wet, even after the leaves have blown away, there can still be some slim on the pavement. Mostly though, if you stick to or just below the posted speed limit, brake a little lighter and a little bit more sooner before your stop, rain and leaf slim usually isn't an issue.

    Nice post Syncro.

  8. #7
    From N00bie to Wannabe Array FASTn50's Avatar
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  9. #8
    Registered User Array cba's Avatar
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    I usually test brakes to just get the feel that they are working and to get a bit of traction idea. Have never tried hard braking at beginning of every rain ride. What if the brakes were messed up and you end up falling down while 'testing'.

    I try to lower my speed several meters before approaching a stop light so that I don't have to jam brakes at last minute.

    Route selection: During rain, I prefer routes that have a traffic going at continuous rate. Meaning the car tires have been scrubbing the pavement and clearing the slime.
    Last edited by cba; 10-29-2012 at 10:05 PM.
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  10. #9
    must have more bacon Array gxr jo's Avatar
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    ran into one of my neighbors at lunch working on his vehicle and inquired to what mod he was working on and found out it was in fact a repair

    he discovered at a stoplight that he had no oil pressure and decided to park it a gas station and carry on to school by foot

    when he returns he finds out the reason for no oil pressure was a broken high pressure oil line fitting entering the block and that he had emptied the contents of his sump all over the road

    so i asked......did u cleanup the oil or notify the city of all that oil left on the wet road...............uhhhhhh nooooo



    be careful out there everyone , you never no what you might come across while riding
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  11. #10
    Eyes set on the rubbarb Array kelaog's Avatar
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    Good post Syncro. That's definitely something I always did when the weather was colder as well/raining. Proper reaction when the front end locks up will save your bacon. I do this in my car with no ABS as well on a regular basis just to see where it's at. Saved me from a few rear enders for sure.

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  12. #11
    Registered User Array cpenner's Avatar
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    Another rain braking tip is to start your braking with the rear wheel, and get it settled into a conservative use of grip. Once that is in place, add the front brake as required to reach your stopping goals. This gives you an early indication of grip, and forces you to plan ahead for that extra second or two of braking you do.

    (Another tip is to throw away any old Conti Blitz dual compound rear tires you have. Only tire I could ever get to chirp in 6th gear on my RZ. It would step out on a 5-6 shift if you tried hard enough. Every 1-2, 2-3 and 3-4 shift had some spinning. And 90% of my braking involved the rear locked.)
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  13. #12
    Registered User Array Squint's Avatar
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    This seems fairly advanced for this forum. I'm concerned there's going to be a few new riders over the next few days looking at their bike lying on the road, because they tried to find the limits of their traction and succeeded.

    I submit another rain riding tip: ride like you don't have any emergency braking capabilities. Because really, you don't. Even if you found you had X amount of traction in one place, but when you called upon it in another there was (insert hazard here i.e. manhole, painted line, tar strip, etc) on the road.

  14. #13
    medicated 4 ur protection Array syncro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechyIam View Post
    A thank you for the O.P. for sharing. But for noobies, note that Syncros is an experienced mountain bike rider, in addition to being a motorcyclist. His understanding and experience for traction would be advanced (at the very least, not a beginner's level). The likelihood for him be doing the right things should be pretty high when he senses the onset of sliding. Not so much for beginner riders, though.

    For newer riders, I believe it would be best to practice a whole bunch in a parking lot first before attempting anything on the streets. Crashing is a very likely scenario for a beginner when he or she comes close to the traction limit.
    good point. while i did say that i test the brakes out on a side street with some low speed controlled stops, i should have been more specific for newbs and said that it's best to test this out for the first time at a walking speed and in an area with no traffic like an empty parking lot as you suggested. that way when you do lock the front up there's no real surprise but it still gives you a good sense of how it feels to have the barkes lock up. also, it's best to test the front and rear seperately.
    *** every move should be calculated ***

    Quote Originally Posted by sAdam View Post
    Most everyone on here is worth a laugh or has a good insight at one time or another, even syncro.

  15. #14
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    this is why i chose my first bike to be equipped with ABS. Has saved my bacon many times already in my short riding career.
    don't be fooled into thinking the rain washes the oil off the road. Yes it does but take a real close look at the heaves in the road surface from the heavy trucks etc. not to mention wind and the usual splish-splash.
    oil does get trapped in the high crest areas of the street.

    would personally like to see some type of aircare inspection regulation setup for motor vehicles dripping excessive oils and fluids.
    doesn't 5th Gear have some kinda "go dirt bike riding to get a feel for slippin n sliding" service on motorbikes? Been meaning to do that one day.
    Last edited by Vanbc; 11-03-2012 at 03:22 PM.

  16. #15
    Registered User Array avocet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by syncro View Post
    good point. while i did say that i test the brakes out on a side street with some low speed controlled stops, i should have been more specific for newbs and said that it's best to test this out for the first time at a walking speed and in an area with no traffic like an empty parking lot as you suggested. that way when you do lock the front up there's no real surprise but it still gives you a good sense of how it feels to have the barkes lock up. also, it's best to test the front and rear seperately.
    also, probing traction with the rear brake can prevent alot of pain and suffering. just do it in a straight line.

    keep in mind, a cruiser will lock up the front much easier and be much more easy to control due to geometry and weight distribution. a sports/sporty bike carries much more weight further forward, so the front wheel will be carring much more load when she locks. that means a much more sudden release of traction due to the weight transfer.

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