Its the rainy season. Yay! However, this is a season wherein motorcyclists will usually pack their bikes and keep them safely ensconced somewhere. However, there is no reason to worry. It is a season after all and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be riding out there in the rain. Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most of your motorcycle in the monsoon.
Service and maintenance
If you didn’t have the foresight or time to service your motorcycle just before the rains, fret not. Before taking your motorcycle out for a ride in the monsoon, get it serviced first. Replace all the necessary lubes, check if all the lights are in working condition including the stop lamp, lube the chain properly, check if all the switches are working properly or not and so on. All the cables including the ones for the throttle as well as for the clutch also have to be inspected and ideally replaced. The fuel tank also has to be emptied and cleaned because the drainage hole aft of the fueling cavity might be clogged due to dust and could result in water mixing with the petrol.
After a month of riding in the rain, be sure to use WD40 on all the nuts and bolts. This will prevent them from rusting. Additionally, joints like the foot pegs as well as key hole too can be sprayed with this. It helps prevent the water from playing havoc in the parts where it is sprayed.
Remember to clean your motorcycle thoroughly after a ride. This means first washing it, preferably with a pressure wash and then wiping it clean. It is essential you lube the chain, especially if you own a motorcycle that uses a half chain cover. Clean the area inside the fuel filler cap as well.
They are your contact with the road. The tread patterns on your motorcycle’s tyres will decide how easily the rain water will be dissipated. Worn out tyres need to be replaced straight away. Tyres with almost 60 per cent of life or lower fall into this category. Run the tyre pressure a tad lower than what the manufacturer usually recommends. This will help increase the contact patch with the road. If you don’t ride too much, may be around 1,000-2,000km, it is recommended that you still replace the tyres as the rubber ages even if not being used much. Plus it is subject to all the elements at all the times.
If you are someone who is comfortable doing 60kmph daily, in the rains bring down that speed to about 40. The wet roads mean lower grip. Avoid making sudden maneuvers and indicate before hand where you will be going. If it’s the first rain that your region has experienced, be extra cautious as the road will be full of dirt and oil. That mixture is deadly, trust me. Let your tyres soak in the rain water and get used to the change in the road surface. Brake as gently as possible as your brake pads have to work extra, first to clean the water from the disc rotor and then apply force to slow the motorcycle down. Ideally use the braking force of both the front as well as rear brakes during monsoon.
Having ABS on a motorcycle helps immensely, however if you feel the front wheel caving in under hard braking, it will be helpful to momentarily release the pressure off the brake and then grab it again. Also, at signals, pumping the brake by just grabbing and releasing them will be a good idea. This helps keep the brakes dry to a certain extent because of the friction.
Riding through standing water
If you own one of the pre-2017 motorcycles, be sure to switch on the headlights while riding. This will help you in getting noticed in low light conditions prevalent during the monsoon. While riding through a flooded place, remember to analyse the situation first. Don’t just follow the vehicle blindly. Wait till it crosses and then go ahead. Maintain a lower gear and steady throttle.
Remember to ride at the edge of the road, rather than through the middle. If its a familiar rode, it is alright, however if the road is relatively unknown, wait till a bigger vehicle or another motorcycle goes through the water. Observe and take the same lines if the earlier vehicle went without any hiccups.
Buy rain gear like raincoats with pants. See to it that you buy a size larger than you usually will wear. This is because the riding gear like jackets will anyway bloat the body. Buy the most affordable one rather than going in for expensive raincoats. Replace them every monsoon if you have to. Buy rain coats which are bright and shiny like the ones the policemen use. This will ensure visibility in low vision riding conditions. If you can’t find any such raincoat, use reflective tapes on them for better visibility.
Use rainproof covers over your motorcycle boots. These will keep the feet dry and are easily available on all the leading online stores. There are also waterproof riding gloves available. Shima offers its D-Tour riding gloves which also have a screen cleaner near the thumb to clean the visor. These are decently durable and I have been using it for the last two years.
Carry a soft cloth in your backpack to clean your helmet visor. More often than not, the muck from the vehicles in the front will distort your vision. So, park safely on the side and clean the visor. It is advisable to keep a safe distance from the car or motorcycle in the front so as to not come in the line of the muck spray.
Enjoy the monsoon ride. It can become one of the most surreal experiences if done properly.
Images shared by Dibyendu Roy Chowdhury and Sumit Gaikwad