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What's your experience and advice for riding in the rain?


Neglected Bike Adopter
My sad R850R is currently my only vehicle so when I commute anywhere I'm commuting on it, and the last couple days I've ridden in the rain for the first time since I acquired it. Haven't mounted my windshield yet, but now I want to. The summer and early fall rains here in TN tend to be downpours. The rides were short; I was just a bit too lazy to put my actual rain suit on, and got pretty wet.

The rain rides got me curious, and now I'd like to hear from you other commuter folks about your rainy rides. Anything you'd like to say regarding your experiences, advice, and gear recommendations for rain is welcome. Especially anybody who lives and rides in the Pacific Northwest.
I can feel your pain, for years I would fool myself into believing that it wont rain much or I'll be ok and not stop to put on my rain gear, never worked out. I finally wised up and got some good waterproof gear. Boots, pants, jacket, gloves or glove liners. I have a Motoport jacket which has a waterproof liner, tested many times and I can remain completely dry in day long downpours, it's removable which is good for days with no rain and obviously wont do a lick of good if I'm too lazy to put it on. My pants are Aerostitch AD1's, these are goretex lined and are waterproof as well, also tested in multiple daylong downpours and because the gortex is present all the time, they are ready to go anytime it rains. Gloves are a problem with me, I've never found any that are really waterproof all day mostly because water runs down the liner of my jacket and will pour into gloves, so I put on Playtex rubber gloves and put my leather gloves over them, the Playtex gloves are inside my jacket liner so water runs right off them. Boots, there are lots of good options for boots, I was a big fan of SIDI "On Road" boots, those were completely waterproof, however I don't believe they are made anymore, there are lots of good options folks here will weigh in on. I currently use Aerostitch "Combat Lite" boots, excellent boot for everything but rain, blasted things leak like a sieve, so I drop back to what Mom did to us as kids, bread bags, they work in a pinch and are quick to put on. When the temperature drops, and the threshold is different for everybody, for me its around 55 degrees, I put on heated vest and use it. Rain soaked gear will wick heat away much more effectively than dry gear, and if you've a long way to go can be one of the most miserable experiences out there. With the above combination I've ridden 12 plus hour days in downpours in relative comfort.

I try to constantly remind myself traction is not normal, I increase the distance between myself and the car in front of me, don't pass aggressively, don't corner aggressively, don't tailgate anyone. Tire tracks on highways tend to hold water so I ride outside these, don't want to hydroplane. I've done what I can to make sure my bike is visible, I have installed reflective stickers on the back of my bags, wear a white helmet, and a bright colored jacket. If it's raining so hard that I cannot see a safe distance in front of me, I pull over until the worst has passed.

Good luck
Rubber will keep out water better than anything but how hot is it going to be? How much of a pain in the butt is it to get on? I have an old jacket and pants I can get on over my fathers and it keeps me totally dry. I only carry it when I'm wearing non waterproof gear such as my leathers. A pair of oversize rubber gloves work well as they will go over gloves and up over the cuffs to keep it all dry.

I also have a top of the line Klim Adventure suit which is Gore Tex. I got wet for the first time in the 7+ years I've owned it just this past summer. That being said I'd never washed it or done any maintenance or treatment to it so it was probably due. I have since done the full wash and Nik Wax tech wash and spray on DWR treatment so I'm hoping to be back to dry again.

I ride mostly as normal in the rain but I do leave some more following distance and watch more carefully for everything if the visibility goes down much. Agreed on the water in the wheel ruts but for me some of my bikes have narrow front tires that just slice through water without fear of hydroplaning. Wider rubber requires more consideration.

Rubber rules!
I have Klim gear as well as a Roadcrafter. I actually prefer the RC because it is one piece.
As far as riding the basics have been mentioned above. I become a little more vigilant about cornering, following distance etc.
I am an occasional fair weather commuter. I hate riding in the rain. That being said I find my self caught in the rain far more than one would expect. I currently have good rain suit that is effective in keeping me dry. I am giving serious consideration the some Aerostich (Gore Tex) gear. I like the idea of not having to change or add an extra layer when I get ambushed by rain. I have BMW riding boots that keep my feet dry. As for gloves, I use those in the attached picture. I can't remember how I came across them. I have been told they are used for handling chemicals. I have no idea if that is true. They are absolutely waterproof. My commute is 35-45 minutes and they are comfortable for a short commute. They do not breathe so I do not think they would be well suited for all day riding. I have not experienced water coming coming off the gauntlet and working it's way back down into my jacket sleeve. One of my motorcycles is naked. The other is naked except for a moderately sized windshield. Perhaps the airflow keeps the water flowing away from my hand and keeps it from coming down the gauntlet.

Because I do not have a fairing my ability to ride in cold weather is limited. I generally avoid commuting if the temperature is in the 30's. I am not sure I would commute in those conditions with a good fairing. In the winter I often see frozen spots on the road where water seeps out from the median or curb days after a rain.

I used to commute on the local highways, but a few weeks ago I found a more scenic...more relaxed route (actually, found a couple of alternatives). The trip is a few minutes longer, but so much more enjoyable. If you can find a pleasant ride to work I encourage you to try it. I think you will find it is worth the extra time.

I live in Puget Sound area and my new job, just over a year, has required me to either ride a bus and adhere to their time schedule or ride my motorbike and set my own schedule. (its due to parking availability) I happily choose the latter. That being said, I rode all last year in every weather condition. My ride is relatively short around 1/2 hour, depending on traffic. I chose to use a laminated jacket/pants set from First Gear.


My bike did have fairings and an adjustable windshield but this set has kept me 100% dry. I also chose the Hi Viz jacket for added safety. The only downside to this set is the lack of liners. I do have to wear a sweatshirt during the 30 degree weather and a mesh jacket during the 80+ weather. As most NW people always carry a sweatshirt around in their vehicle or near them, this was nowhere near a deal breaker. Good luck with gloves.
Big difference between a 30 min or less commute and hours riding in the rain.

My Joe Rocket Survival suit works well as long as the front zipper flap is folded over properly for a 30 min commute.

For touring though layers work better so I am leaning to mesh with a liner for the top and mesh pants. As it gets colder you can add the waterproof inner liner to the top as well as puff jacket and then thermal fuzzy under garment and then water proof over pants to the bottom. When it gets wet just add plastic rain jacket and waterproof gloves.
For touring though layers work better so I am leaning to mesh with a liner for the top and mesh pants.

I lack sufficient foresight to make this work very well. Where I ride - mostly in the great plains and mountain west there is often a 30% change of rain every day for weeks and storms come up quickly. After a few times thinking "it will only be a sprinkle" only to ride into a deluge I have had to rethink things. And, even if it hits as just a sprinkle taking off my jacket parked in the rain beside the road to install a liner just fails to work for me.

So for the past 23 or so years I have ridden with an Aerostich Roadcrafter of Darien jacket which needs no liner and only in the worst conditions needs an outer rainsuit.

And I'll add, a rain liner for pants is a cruel joke.
Seattle commuter here. I have an old Olympia Phantom one piece suit that gets sprayed with Camp Dry just about every autumn. I add the liner when it gets chilly. I wear my work clothes underneath so it’s an easy transition when I get to the office. Pinlock visor in yer lid really helps, too. BMW usually makes good gloves for all seasons, and a squeegee on the glove’s first finger is a necessity for me. YMMV.
I lack sufficient foresight to make this work very well. Where I ride - mostly in the great plains and mountain west there is often a 30% change of rain every day for weeks and storms come up quickly. After a few times thinking "it will only be a sprinkle" only to ride into a deluge I have had to rethink things. And, even if it hits as just a sprinkle taking off my jacket parked in the rain beside the road to install a liner just fails to work for me.

So for the past 23 or so years I have ridden with an Aerostich Roadcrafter of Darien jacket which needs no liner and only in the worst conditions needs an outer rainsuit.

And I'll add, a rain liner for pants is a cruel joke.

My Motoport mesh jacket and pants have liners for both. As Paul says, it's a real nuisance taking off gear to put gear on under the outer layer. I rarely use the jacket liner and when I do, simply for warmth. I haven't taken the liners when touring for years.

Instead I use a bright yellow construction rain suit over my mesh gear and most of the time for moderate rain, the jacket only. The pants are quite easy to get in and out off even with riding boots. Of course I did have each leg cut open to the crotch and had Velcro added. I can strip those pants off as fast as any of those guys in the film, The Full Monty. 😁
There's rain and then there are Texas thunderstorms. I was living in Fort Worth for a time and worked in Plano, which is in Collin County quite a distance. I rode my F800GS every day to work at that job. I didn't have a car available to me at that time and was trying to get back up on my feet from a series of job losses. One afternoon there was a convergence of multiple storm cells over DFW. I was heading home and had to ride through severe downpours and water. In spite of rain bibs and jacket I was totally soaked when I got home. Another time I was on my way to work in Fort Worth (different job) when a hail storm hit and there wasn't any place to immediately take shelter though I did finally find an underpass. Even gloves didn't take away the sting of those hail stones on the back of my hands. Another time in Arlington I got into a downpour and wasn't dressed for the rain. Leather doesn't take well to lots of water. I now have a nice Tacoma to drive when the weather isn't so perfect. I also am blessed to have a job 3 miles from home instead of across the Metroplex. Sometimes rain will surprise you so have the gear packed for it. Normally it works well as long as the rain doesn't get too extreme. The bike did very well every time.
Many many moons ago I was riding from Jasper east. One day riding from Thunder Bay to Ottawa the rain was coming down so hard I couldn't see other cars or read signs etc. I finally got off the highway and rolled into a gas station. I asked the guy inside where I was and he gave me a funny look and said "you're in Ottawa." I was right in the middle of the city and had no idea at all. I laughed. It took 3 days for my leather jacket to dry out.

I was hit by a squall almost that bad riding to the MOA in 2019. I pulled off and ended up in a rest stop and pulled under a canopy next to a woman on another Beemer. She too was headed to the rally. I pulled on my raingear and told her the rain would stop pretty quick as a result. I was right the rain was pretty much done by the time I rolled out.
Way back when, Annie and I were on our way from Fairbanks to Dawson City, YT along with a friend. The friend was wearing a new MotoSport riding suit. We made the turn off of the Alaska Hwy onto the Taylor Hwy towards Chicken and were hit by a downpour of mixed rain and hail. Our friend was leading and he soon pulled over to put on his rain gear liners. Annie and I stopped to wait for him. Forever imbedded in my memory is the image of my friend, in his underwear, sitting in a stream of hail filled water and trying to put on his rain liner for his pants. As he was finishing this useless endeavor the downpour stopped and the sun came out.

We were hit with another downpour as we road thru Chicken and were on the Top of the World Hwy. It was as muddy as I have ever seen it and we learned later that the road had washed out behind us and a Forrest Service employee was swept off the road and died. We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves when we hit Dawson, all three of us had sphincter fighting moments in the mud. Soon four guys on Goldwings that had been behind us showed up, so our chest thumping was over.

When the rain stopped on the TOW it was followed by dense fog. Here we are at the border crossing:


I used to commute rain or shine in the SF Bay Area but I stopped because I'm a little anal about cleaning up my bike(s) if I get caught in the rain. I don't enjoy spending 1-2 hours cleaning up my bike(s) after each day's commute in a damp'ish garage. ;)

For gear, I've accumulated not only dedicated rain suits for riding in the rain but a number of riding suits with rain resistant linings. I've yet to find a suit or liner that kept me 100% dry during a 45-60 minute commute (each way...average commute over the years).

As for riding in the rain, in addition to what others have said, I would say smoothness is key. If you give yourself ample room you can avoid most instances of panic braking. Try your best to avoid any sudden changes in direction and speed and you should be fine. Of course you also want tires made for wet weather riding, usually any of the newer sport touring tires should do the trick.
I have weather alerts on the GPS. (Weather Channel app Bluetooth to the GPS.) We've been through some extreme weather and the best advice I can give is take it easy. Some people we know love track days, but I've always said if you want to learn throttle and brake control ride 500 miles in the rain.

We had brand new FirstGear suits in 2019 and our first ride was in a deluge. We got soaked. We bought Klim (Latitude and Altitude) suits and they do an excellent job of keeping us dry. But remember, nothing is 100% dry if you stay out long enough.

Oh yeah, and watch for those weather alerts. (Tornadic weather near Chatsworth GA in 2021).
Chatsworth GA.JPG
I also commute but the RT is not my only vehicle. Reece's rules for riding in the rain:

1. If you can, avoid it. The enhanced risk and the reduced pleasure of riding make it a losing proposition.

2. If you must ride in the rain have a strategy and be prepared to execute. (The rain liner in your garage doesnt do you any good on the road)

3. Pinlock! Critical to keeping that visor fog free.

4. Rain liner that goes "over" your riding jacket easily acessable probalby on your right pannier or topcase.

5. Water proof gortex boots.

6. Water resistant pants.

7. Full faring bike like the RT... in the slip stream, even in heavy rain, the rider can stay practically dry.

8. BMW 2in1 gloves. Mine work great at keeping the hands dry.

9. Heated grips on.

10. Put your gear on before it starts raining. And, if you're in it and it turns heavy, pull over in a sheltered area to get out of it... be late, don't be dead.

11. And the bonus: Take it easy on the turns with wet tar snakes; you'll quickly be introduced to your ABS feature.