As I look outside and watch it rain sideways a week before the official end of summer I’ve realized that Fall has fallen. Touratech USA is based in Seattle, WA and you might have heard, it rains here. I pinned down a few of our team members and got some tips, tricks and stories about riding in the rain. Our staff is filled with riders and because we’re based in Seattle we are very experienced riding in rain. Here are their thoughts:
Do you ride on different tires depending on the season?
Kimmo Lasilla (VP of Sales): I recommend less aggressive, road-type tires if you commute/ride a lot of pavement in winter/rain. Offroad tires do not grip as well on wet pavement; but it depends of course what terrain one rides a lot. Check air pressure frequently.
Eric Archambault (Showroom Manager): I don’t change my tires for the wet season. That said during the wet season I end up doing less off-road adventure riding and more road riding. This is mostly due to the good riding in the PNW mountains being covered with snow when Seattle is in the gray months. I do tend to swap the DOT knobbies for sport touring tires based on the type riding I’m doing during the wet seasion.
Matt Willson (Product Manager): Since it rains so much in Seattle I make sure to always run tires that are good in wet conditions no matter the season. My go-to for the past few years has been the Continental TKC70.
Iain Glynn (Riding Director): I try to avoid running knobby tires on the pavement in the rain. They aren’t bad on dry pavement but they usually SUCK when it’s wet.
Morgan Goldbloom (Customer Service): No. I make sure that any tire I mount on my bike is capable of handling wet riding conditions. This means spending more money on softer, stickier rubber, and replacing the tires early and often.
Andrew Sadler (Warehouse Supervisor): No.
Conor Davis (Customer Service): Nope, knobbies year round.
What gear do you wear when you ride in the rain? (Boots, gloves, pants, jacket etc…)
Andrew: Klim Adventure rally jacket, and pants, or Klim Torrent over-pants, Klim adventure gloves (short), Touratech Aventuro Helmet (with pinlock visor), Sidi Discovery Rain boots, various brands of neck warmer.
Conor: Klim Carlsbad Jacket, Badlands Pants, SIDI Adventure 2 Boots, and some rain gloves.
Eric: I have an old first generation Klim Badlands Pro suit, Sidi Discovery Rain boots, Held Steve gloves, Pinlock insert in an Arai XD4.
Matt: KLIM Carlsbad Jacket and Pants, KLIM Adventure GTX Gloves, Sidi Adventure Goretex 2 boots, and a Pinlock visor insert in my helmet. Everything Goretex. I’m always dry with this setup.
Iain: Can’t beat a KLIM Goretex suit. The fewer vents it has the better (less places to leak). Sidi boots and comfy gloves.
Morgan: My typical rainy Seattle commute setup was Klim Traverse Jacket and Pants, Sidi Discovery Boots, and Dainese Gloves.
What are your personal “Do’s and Don’t’s” when you ride in the rain?
Do – Give yourself more time to get to your destination, ride slower, avoid standing water (some potholes are deeper than you might expect) and remember that visibility is limited by rain..
Don’t – Ride at night if possible. Skimp on good rain gear.
Do – Give myself at least twice the following distance. You simply can’t stop as fast in low traction environments.
Don’t – Make sudden movements, being in a low traction environment I like to pretend I’m basically on ice. It is very easy to reach the limit of traction if you approach it slowly.
Kimmo: Avoid getting wet/cold, because riding in the rain needs all your concentration! Have good waterproof gear.
Eric: Enjoy the suck, don’t crash.
Matt: I always increase my following distance in traffic and just ride a little slower than I usually would. Don’t forget that the stopping distance for you and all the cars around you is greatly decreased when the road is wet. Take your time and don’t be in a rush.
Iain: Increase following distance and really watch out behind me. Especially in the first rain of the season the road get slick and nobody can stop as quickly as they think.
Morgan: Don’t rely on your bike’s fancy electronic rider aids. They can’t save you from poor decisions. Whenever possible, don’t ride on manhole covers, painted lines, BBQ sauce, or anything else that isn’t clean wet pavement. Don’t panic and stab at your rear brake. That’s amateur move and a great way to “Lay ‘er down,” especially in the rain.
How do you prep your bike/s for fall weather?
Andrew: Keep your chain clean and lubed. Clean off headlight regularly.
Conor: It’s an ADV bike, it’s born ready.
Kimmo: Best for any motor is to keep running it often! If you don’t ride much in winter, do basic cleaning & service, put fuel treatment in fresh gas, and put bike on battery tender but run/ride it as often as you can.
Eric: I don’t do anything special, just stay up to date on regular maintenance.
Matt: Nothing special. Just make sure my maintenance is up to date and my tires aren’t dried out or worn too much. If I’m not going to ride too often, I’ll put the battery on a tender once in a while.
Iain: Tire change as referenced earlier, install handlebar muffs (the best thing ever).
Morgan: If you’re riding through the winter, just maintain your bike the way you always should. Keep an eye on the brake pads, tire pressure, tread wear, chain tension, etc. If you’re putting your bike away for the winter, just roll it into a dark corner of your garage and forget about it. It’ll probably start in a few months… probably.
What’s the craziest thing that every happened to you riding in the rain?
Andrew: Riding on the Oregon coast at night in the rain and fog being blinded by oncoming traffic. With one or two cars passing toward me I would not be able to see for 5 to 10 seconds, but could generally pick out the turns in the road. When 3 or more cars coming toward me there were times when I would have to slow down to under 20 mph just so I could find the corner or curve in the road before I was already through it. Even though I was less than an hour away from my destination I ended up pulling over for the night.
Conor: Nothing really. I give myself plenty of room and time to react to bad drivers. I may or may not try to slip the rear out all the time.
Kimmo: Got so cold in upper body that almost ran off the road when I hit the twisties! Had to pull over and warm my arms.
Eric: The rain changed to snow!
Matt: Didn’t see the deep standing waters in the truck ruts on I-5 and hydroplaned on the freeway at 70mph, surrounded by cars. Luckily nothing bad happened, but it was not a good feeling.
Iain: Nothing crazy, just fun interactions with other riders when hiding under an overpass or awning somewhere. I love riding through puddles too so flash flooded streets are a hoot.
Morgan: The rain I was riding in turned to snow, about an hour away from home. Riding in the snow isn’t advised.
Do you have a good pro-tip?
Andrew: Heated grips (and for full deluxe mode get a set of muffs to go with your heated grips and you and you can ride with summer gloves all year)
Conor: When in poor conditions your motorcycle simply can’t react as fast as it can on a warm sunny day and therefore you have to give yourself that extra space incase you need to emergency stop or swerve.
Kimmo: Motorcycling needs 100% of your attention at all times, which is I find part of the fun! But in rain/spray cars often can’t see you. The game is to keep thinking of potentially dangerous traffic/road situations and to avoid them as much as possible or be ready. KEEP YOUR HEAD TURNING WHEN CHANGING LANES & IN INTERSECTIONS! I often yell the command “Headcheck!” when I ride bicycles in the neighborhood with my kids.
Eric: Manhole cover and painted lines will be slippery, it is best to avoid them.
Matt: Watch out for cross walks or other painted surfaces that can be slick when you’re making a turn at an intersection.
Iain: Handlebar muffs are way more effective than heated grips and allow you to run with your favorite gloves regardless of rain or cold. They make you look like a dork but they are AWESOME. When combined with heated grips you can have all day comfort with thin MX gloves in cold and/or wet conditions.
Morgan: Never stop or put your boot down in the middle of a lane. That’s where oil and BBQ sauce lurk.