If you have about four minutes to kill, let a pro tell you all about riding in the wet versus the dry. Rain or shine, so long as it’s not too bad, the race goes on, and KTM Factory Rider, Brad Binder, is ready and willing to tell you about racing in not-so-great conditions. 

On the MotoGP YouTube channel, Binder gets in front of the camera to tell you all about the difference between racing wet and racing dry, and it all starts with the tires. When dry, GP bikes are fitted with slick tires, giving riders the maximum contact patch between the tire and the asphalt for wicked-fast cornering speeds. Once the heavens open up, however, all of that changes, literally. The slicks will hydroplane when it hits a wet patch so rain tires are fitted. 

Wet tires come with sipes and channels in order to displace water and maintain contact with the asphalt on the race track. The compound for wet tires is also much different compared to dry tires. Wet tires don’t need warmers as their optimal operating temperature is much lower than the standard slicks that racers can equip in the dry. 

Now it’s on to the riding style. Typically, racers adopt a smoother and more relaxed style than the normal pace and aggression you can see in a dry race. GP riders tend to shift to a more relaxed style in the corners with some opting for less lean, safer lines, and smoother inputs. Furthermore, standing up the bike early to get the maximum amount of drive out of a corner is also common practice for racers due to the poor grip that is apparent in the wet.

Braking is also smooth as well, but the problem then becomes putting heat into the carbon discs in order to get the proper response from the levers on the bike. Covers can be put on the discs to keep them from getting splashed with water and to insulate the heat that they generate. While on hot days, teams have to contend with pacing the bike and managing heat in the brakes, when the rain pours, the challenge then turns to how to keep the heat in for effective braking. Too cold and the pads won’t bike. 

After the brakes, the teams can also change the suspension settings. The suspension is tuned to be softer for a less responsive and more forgiving ride. If the input on the bike’s controls has to be smooth, a softer suspension setup can help facilitate this. 

Finally, the engine gets a detune and a few settings are tweaked like traction control, power, and engine braking. 

It’s also important to remember that riders have teams behind them that are feeding constant information to the rider to ensure that they get the win. While most of us don’t have a team behind us, individual things are key to keeping yourself rubber-side-down if the heavens open up. Be smooth, be less aggressive, and please make sure your tires aren’t bald when it rains. 

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