Riding a motorcycle in the rain can be a lot of fun. Riding a motorcycle when you’re soggy, wet, and cold never is. There are ways to protect yourself from the elements and make sure you feel comfortable, confident, and safe in wet weather. After all, the organic component needs to perform just as well as the mechanical components if you want to get home safely.
Water spray is bad enough, but if your visor starts to fog, you’re going to have issues in a hurry. Few things are more uncomfortable than having to ride through the rain with your visor open because it’s fogged. I use a Pinlock insert in my Arai to keep my visor from fogging and it works a treat. A lot of people use rain-ex on the outside of their visor too, but I find it’s not needed. It’s also not something helmet makers advise.
If you’re going to ride in the rain a lot, turf your tinted or reflective visor. Dark visors look tough as hell, right up until they’re shattered all over the ground because you couldn’t see and crashed into the back of a bus. If you commute a lot, or ride in changing conditions, consider one of the many helmets on the market with an additional sun-shade that drops down inside the visor, that way you can just put it back up when you don’t need it.
Get the Right Gear
When water is coming at you from all angles, you will get wet. It doesn’t matter how good your rain gear is, how much the manufacturer promised you’d be dry, you will get wet. Water comes from literally every direction: down, up, left, right, front, back – everywhere. Just how wet you get and where depends on the gear you choose.
It’s also important to manage the cold. When water meets airflow at 50 mph it can feel like a freezer. I use a thin sweater under my jacket, and a good jacket with a waterproof liner. I use dedicated waterproof pants—not an oversuit, Klim makes a set I’m a fan of. I also use a microfiber neck-warmer, and I find it does a good job of stopping water running down the back of my jacket up to a point.
I like my Dainese D-Dry gloves but most gloves with a quality leather and a name-brand laminated outer shell like Gore-Tex will be effective. Make sure you put them on properly and fasten them correctly, and you’ll have a good chance of maintaining a dry hand and sensation in your fingertips.
If your arms sit level on the bars (like on an ADV bike) or sit higher (as on a Cruiser) you’ll want gauntlets that go over your jacket, then cinch tight. If you’re riding a Sport Bike, Sport Tourer or performance naked and your arms slope down, you’ll want gloves that fit under your jacket, so rain running down your sleeves doesn’t enter your gloves. A thin pair of shop gloves under your gloves can add extra warmth and protection from the water. A pair of plastic mitts like the ones gas stations give out at the Diesel pumps can go over the top of those and under your regular gauntlets as bonus protection. My wet-riding gloves are one size bigger than my regular gloves for exactly this reason.
That same name-brand waterproof membrane advice goes for your jacket and pants or suit. Make sure zippers come with rain flaps so moisture doesn’t pass right through and look for a neck and cuffs that cinch tightly to keep out the water. Make sure you close all the vents. I remember all too well the time I didn’t.
I have yet to find a genuinely waterproof boot. Part of the reason is that boots sit in the spray coming off the front tire, so are essentially being power washed the entire time you’re riding. Look for boots that include a waterproof gusset in the entry flap that goes nearly as high as the boot itself, keep that name brand membrane in mind and regularly apply a silicone boot spray or similar around the sole/body stitching and any other hardware and you might get away with only damp feet. Wear wool socks, they’ll keep you warm even when they get wet – which they will.
Remember, nobody can see as well in wet weather as they can in the dry. Wear bright, reflective items to help drivers see you through the spray.
Staying dry in pouring rain is nearly impossible but there is a big difference between having damp hands and feet, and being soaked to the core. Riding a bike in any weather requires concentration and physical dexterity, both of which are impacted heavily by the cold and the wet. Spend money on gear and you’ll get to enjoy your bike more often during the year, and keep yourself safer on the road.