Riding Skills: Zen & the Art of becoming… der Rainmeister

The BST© (BrakeSteerTurn) Series presents… Wet Weather riding tips.

Oh rain foretold…so they say. Yup, it’s Spring time and that means we will get the obligatory spring showers. And at some point you will find yourself riding in wet conditions.

Maybe you rolled out and it was just drizzling, maybe the sky was overcast, but it wasn’t raining. Or perhaps you were out and the skies just opened up and down it came. Whichever scenario it might have been…you were probably none too happy about wheeling your machine in hap hazard conditions.

9-Smart-Tips-for-Riding-Your-Bike-in-the-Rain-990x570

The first thing a rider needs to do when traction becomes limited is to relax and be smooth with their inputs to the bike…being rigid or tense will only exacerbate the problem of the reduced road/tire friction they are facing.

And it’s not only the falling water that potentially reduces traction, but it is also the porous pavement that has soaked up oils which are then brought to the surface when the rain pellets the tarmac. Add to the possibly treacherous conditions, painted lines and the always dreaded manhole covers! Eventually the oils get washed away, but this is just another unknown variable and obstacle in the equation for a rider. Just keep in mind that margins of error become less in the wet.

With less grip available in the ‘traction bank’ the machine is also less forgiving. To that end a rider needs to be mindful and steady with body position, steering input, pedaling stroke and braking applications. Obviously there should be less bike lean when cornering in the wet. Instead leaning the body a bit more while keeping the bike as upright as possible, this will serve to maximize the tires ‘footprint’ on the road. Also brake a bit earlier than normal as well, before corner entry. (especially if you ride on carbon rims- without disc brakes)

proper lean technique

When approaching a corner that requires braking,  squeeze the lever progressively, not abruptly. As we like to say; the method of “stab-and-grab” will surely put you on your ass… But rather progressive braking pressure using BOTH front and rear brakes when its wet will give a rider more grip and less slip potentiality. Generally, a rider should aim for a wider line through a corner, rather a tighter line. This will allow for a bit less lean angle and decrease the chances for ‘washing’ or sliding the front tire out from under the bike.

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One other tip is to lower your tire pressures. Now there is not an across the board psi decrease but in general, 5-10 psi less is a start. It will vary depending on rider weight and tire size. I.E., 23mm wide, 25mm wide 28mm and 32mm and up widths. The wider the tire, the less air pressure you can safely run. And please, if anyone is thinking that there is more rolling resistance… it’s time to check out this new fangled thing called the internet! Where there is a boat load of newer research and PoC about tires, widths and pressures. A good starting point is at Jan Heine’s blog.

Lowering tire pressures will provide a slightly larger contact patch and will also allow the tire to push down into the pavement a bit more, providing more potential grip. As for widths, why anyone would still be on 23mm’s is baffling…but then again most roadies tend to not truly embrace anything that isn’t typically rooted in some archaic narrative…
😀 😀 😀
Here’s your checklist for riding in the rain:
>Lower tire pressures
>Cover the brake levers (two fingers)
>Relax your body
>Be smooth

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