Freeway ride in the rain - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 11 Old Apr 9th, 2012, 8:56 pm Thread Starter
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Freeway ride in the rain

I have 50k miles on motorcycles. I'm planning to ride LA to San Francisco Friday. Forecast is for rain. I have rain gear and have rode some in the rain before.

Looking for tips, and advice on doing a long distance freeway ride in the rain.

Any and all input appreciated!
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post #2 of 11 Old Apr 9th, 2012, 9:16 pm
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

Originally Posted by Kurt1200
I have 50k miles on motorcycles. I'm planning to ride LA to San Francisco Friday. Forecast is for rain. I have rain gear and have rode some in the rain before.

Looking for tips, and advice on doing a long distance freeway ride in the rain.

Any and all input appreciated!

I've had two big scares on the fwy in the rain. The first one happened when I decided to stop under an overpass during a severe downpour. The shoulder wasn't very wide and the traffic was heavy. Cars and semis were flying by at 70 plus mph, I was getting splashed and sprayed with water, it was horrible. The traffic was so heavy I had a hard time getting back into traffic. If I were ever to do that again, it would have to be at a time where there was very little traffic on the road.

The second time was at night on a 3 lane fwy. I decided to change lanes from the middle lane to the RH lane on a big sweeping RH corner. I was going along about 65 mph and I slowly started to lean to the right to change lanes. When I hit the spot between the two lanes, I slipped quite a bit. I think there was some kind of sealant between the two lanes that was very slippery. That scared the crap out of me!! From now on, I slow down and mostly stay in the RH lane and let the crazies pass.

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post #3 of 11 Old Apr 9th, 2012, 9:42 pm
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

I ride back and forth between LA and Sacramento two to three times a month, and rain is part of the game.

Gear up before it starts to rain. Make sure your boots are water proof or get some covers.

Experiment early with your windscreen position and learn at what elevation it will toss most of the rain over your head. For my RT that's about halfway up. More vertical and it spills over into my lap,and any lower and it just goes into my face shield.

Do something about fogging in your visor. Use Cat Crap, spit, pinlock, FogCity, etc. For me, fogging has been the biggest problem. I'm dry as a bone from head to toe, except I have had to crack my visor to clear fogging and I wind up with mist flying in my face.

Rain will build up a bit on your visor; turning your head left, then right, will usually clear the droplets. Some folks use RainX; I don't.

The roads in California have seen plenty of rain as of now, so the greasy, grimy gopher-gut crap is washed away. Still, stay clear of the center of the lane. If you can, ride in the fast lane, as it is cleaner. Be especially wary of overpasses, as the GGG crap doesn't get washed away under the overpass. There is always a transition at the overpass (asphalt to concrete or concrete to concrete, as the under structure of the overpass is heavy concrete) and I've gotten sideways at 70 mph going through an overpass. Admittedly, it was during a first rain of the season.

During the week the drivers on I5 and 101 are pretty much pros and are, for the most part, sane. However, the kids may be going back to school, and they are nuts. Look out for cars filled with young people and boxes. Many of them like to drive at the speed limit, but they do it in the fast lane. Most traffic will want to run at 75-80. The kids doing 70 in the fast lane forces others to pass in the right. If you're running in the slow lane, keep an eye on your six. I actually had a crazy person pass me on my right, in my lane, at about 80 while I was doing 70. Lane sharing is legal, but that was nuts.

If you will be going over the Grapevine, recognize that, even now, there is a potential for snow or freezing rain along about Gorman to Tejon Ranch. Also, the down hill section from Tejon Ranch to Grapevine is very rough. Rough enough that you'll think you've got a flat.

Traction is good on wet roads that are clean - reportedly about 80% of what is available on dry roads. If you can get your head around that, it reduces the pucker factor in corners.

Get glove liners or insulated gloves. It's often cold in the rain. Waterproof gloves often are not! Take two pair of gloves. Tuck the gauntlet part of the glove up the sleeve of your rain gear, lest the rain run down your gear and into your glove, filling your water proof glove with water. No, you may not ask how I know that...

Enjoy, I absolutely love riding in the rain. About three weeks ago I was at the north end of Stockton on I5, in full gear and with my windscreen set just right (it had been a bit misty with spots of light rain). It was about 8:30 and quite dark. I couldn't figure out why the light raindrops wouldn't clear from my visor when I turned my head left and right. A car passed me and, in it's headlights, I could see that I was in a torrential downpour. I was dry and warm and didn't even know it was raining hard.

What route are you taking?


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Last edited by 12R12RT; Apr 9th, 2012 at 10:10 pm.
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post #4 of 11 Old Apr 9th, 2012, 10:18 pm
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

Tire grooves can be trouble at times...I set up about a foot off the lane lines when its really raining and as always be familiar with your immediate environment. Rains O.K. if it happens along..can even be enjoyable at times.


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post #5 of 11 Old Apr 10th, 2012, 7:38 am
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

In 2008, I was commuting home from work (in the rain) on I-80/94 in the southern Chicago minding my own business when a woman's car next to me hydroplaned, lost control and hit me kind of sideways at about 55 mph and totaled my LT. I sustained a broken wrist and collar bone. Thank God no one behind the crash ran over me........
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post #6 of 11 Old Apr 10th, 2012, 8:16 am
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

Two things for me when riding in the rain...

1) I avoid letting my tires touch any of the road paint - even the lane dashes. The only time I've "slipped" in the rain was touching these...felt like ice to me. Now, I'm in South Carolina, so maybe it's different here, but that could have been your "slipping" when lane changing. I had a riding buddy on a MotoGP bike hit the middle lines and he said he had spun 180 degrees and was looking backwards at his buddies before he knew what hit him. Busted bike and broken colar bone later....

2) as weird as it sounds, and as ugly as it may be, I saw a guy with the huge rubber kitchen gloves. He said "no matter what you may think about that, my hands are dry and these fit over my normal gloves."

Stay safe.

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post #7 of 11 Old Apr 10th, 2012, 10:34 am
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

Here are my tips. Everything I have read so far is good also.

1. Carry a finger squeegee such as those sold by Aerostitch that fit over a finger or on the thumb of your gloves. This is the best thing I have found for clearing your visor. Some have had better experience I’m sure but I do not like Rain-X.
2. Avoid all paint and adhesive road markings including lane markings, cross walks, turn arrows, and diamond HOV markers (don’t use the HOV lane in the rain—very nasty and slick on those markings and they show up every few feet or so). If you must encounter/cross any road paint markings try to do so straight up not while leaning over.
3. Rainbows. Look for that pretty red, green and blue sheen on the road. This means oil and it will be slick. If you need to stop for a while until the rain has a chance to wash that off, do so. Once the rainbows on the asphalt are gone, it will be far less slick. The first half hour or so of a rain is the most hazardous.
4. Puddles—that puddle may be there because it is where water has collected in a pothole.
5. Avoid tar snakes. The asphalt material used to seal cracks has no abrasive compounds in it and is very slick when wet. The asphalt mix design for normal highway asphalt is compounded to be porous and let water infiltrate to an extent. The tar snakes are not at all porous.
6. Smooth concrete such as the entrances to drives and parking lots will be slicker than asphalt. Same for concrete on bridges and overpasses although the concrete mix design and finishing required by DOT for highways is far less smooth and slick that in private drives and parking lots.
7. Metal is always an issue. Manhole covers, metal grates, railroad tracks, etc. will be slicker than asphalt.
8. Speaking of rubber, the rubber sections inserted at railroad track crossings are also very slick compared to asphalt.
9. Tires—generally I think harder compounds designed for longer life will have less traction in wet conditions. So far I have quite a few rain miles on my P3s and feel very comfortable with them.
10. Do one thing at a time. That is try not to accelerate, brake, decelerate, shift etc. while you are also turning or leaning. Anything that will change the balance/equilibrium of the bike should be done as smoothly as possible. Smoooth is the key.

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post #8 of 11 Old Apr 10th, 2012, 11:05 am
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

One other comment in addition to everything that has been said:

1. Not sure if there are any toll booths on your route, but be very careful if you're stopping to pay a toll. The center part of the lane will be VERY slick from all the grease and oil droplets. The rain washes the center area on the highway, but because the toll booth is covered, it doesn't receive any rain and just remains slick as cat shit. Make very certain you are in one of the vehicle tracks before applying the brakes to stop.

Have a safe trip!

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post #9 of 11 Old Apr 10th, 2012, 5:33 pm
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

All good advice above. There isn't much to add.

One poster mentioned glove liners. Get a pair of pure silk glove liners. They will let you insert your damp hands into the fabric lining of your regular gloves. Without the silk liners, your hands will stick and it will be impossible to get them inserted.
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post #10 of 11 Old Apr 10th, 2012, 10:45 pm
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

I got caught in the storms that ravaged Dallas with tornados last week. Dealt with a 50 MPH cross wind, torrential rain and hail. It was not fun. Invest in some good gear and be ready for rain before it starts. My belief is the key is to be prepared and have the proper equipment. If weather changes and you are not prepared you become uncomfortable and lose focus and that's when accidents happen. I have a Tourmaster Transition jacket that I've had in all sorts of weather and I'm very happy with it. Make sure you have pants that are waterproof or have rain liners you can put in. Most importantly, have some sort of anti-fog system on your visor. I have a Nolan N103 helmet that has a removable anti-fog liner for the inside of the visor. I keep it in there all the time because you never know when things can change. People think that fogging is mainly a seasonal issue (winter, fall) but I've found that the worst fogging situations I've been in were in the summer and spring. The storm I rode through last week had a temp drop of 25 degrees in two minutes with heavy rain. Had I not had my fog liner in, I would have been in real trouble real quick. Bottom line is you don't want to have to make adjustments when the conditions change.

Keep the rubber on the road and the blood inside

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post #11 of 11 Old Apr 12th, 2012, 8:04 pm
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Re: Freeway ride in the rain

The single most important piece of advice I can give you is this.....Soft hands. Utterly and absolutely relax, and make sure that all of your control inputs are as gentle and soft as you can make them. You should be doing this as a matter of course anyway, but it's especially important in the rain.

The second most important piece of advice I can give you is this.....Unless you're suicidal, never pull over underneath an overpass. You'd be safer playing Russian Roulette with a pistol dipped in cancer.

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