During my earlier years, I was a bit of a hooligan. I used to enjoy taking my motard to public parks after a downpour and power-slide on the wet grass. I never had the balls to do it on tarmac. This gave me hours of fun, often ending up in me getting the short end of the stick and seeing my arse.
If unlike me, you tend to stick to the road, there are a few things you can remember in order to stay safe out there during our winter season that’s looming.
Judge the road surface
The general rule of thumb is, if it looks slippery, it is slippery. Stay off painted lines, cat’s eyes, and manhole covers. You’ll also notice oily patches on the road, this happens when a heady downpour loosens all the diesel and other debris from the tar and it basically floats on top of the water. This can be hazardous, so best to avoid.
This might sound odd, but taking a corner too gingerly on a closed throttle and as good as upright, generating virtually no cornering forces, your tyres will barely grip the road at all and the bike will feel unbalanced, nervous and twitchy. Remember, in order go have grip, you need to have contact with the tarmac, and in order to do that, you have to squeeze out any water between your front tyre and the tarmac. So having a bit of down-force is essential to your survival on a wet road.
Accelerating, especially out of a corner, should be done smoothly. If your motorcycle comes equipped with various riding modes, chances are, your wet mode will enable the traction control to stop your wheels from slipping. If you don’t have such luxuries, the best thing you can do is to not accelerate too quickly. Gentle acceleration will ensure your tyre doesn’t lose grip and spin up, resulting in a possible accident.
The biggest problem with braking is that you could lock up your wheels if you brake too hard and have too little grip for either wheel. The same principle we explained when turning, applies to braking, you have to squeeze out the water gap between your tyre and the tarmac for you to have grip. So don’t be too scared to to brake too hard, because you need the down-force.