Bad Weather Motorcycle Riding: Tips for Staying Safe

Max Meyers
Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.

Wet RoadWet roads and inclement weather not only make motorcycle riding more challenging, but they also increase the dangers you face. The best way to stay safe in bad weather is to avoid riding your motorcycle entirely, if possible. However, we understand that you cannot control the weather that can pop up after you have ridden your bike somewhere. You have to get home, so here are some tips on how to do that safely.

Tip 1: Maximize Your Visibility

When your face shield or glasses fog up, you cannot see well enough to operate your motorcycle safely. The difference in your body temperature and the air temperature creates fog. Usually, this fog will dissipate after you have been moving for a while and achieved some airflow. The critical, potentially dangerous time is before the fog clears. There are three ways to minimize fog on your face shield or glasses:

  1. Keep your face shield open a little until you start moving
  2. Do not put on your helmet until you are ready to ride
  3. Treat your glasses and face shield with anti-fog chemical products.


Water spray from the tires of other vehicles can make it feel as if you were driving in a car wash. In this situation, you have little if any visibility. To prevent the car wash effect, keep a greater distance than usual from other vehicles and maintain a careful lookout for large puddles.

However, visibility also involves making sure other people can see you. Alert the vehicles behind you when you are about to slow down by lightly tapping your rear brake before you actually need to use it to decrease your speed.

Tip 2: Wear the Right Gear

With all the rain we get in Washington, you should always have a rain suit on hand. Optimally, your rain suit will be brightly colored and have a breathable membrane.

If you are uncomfortably cold or wet, your attention will not be fully on the road. Hypothermia can slow your reaction time. Test your rain gear ahead of time. Stand under the spray of a hose to test for leaks. Your rain gear should include a waterproof rain suit, warm jacket, proper pants, boots, and gloves. Make sure you have all the proper safety gear as well.

Tip 3: Follow the Three Rules for Riding on Wet Surfaces

Rule Number One: Reduce your speed. Speed is your enemy when driving on slick roadways. Your brakes are less effective in the rain, so you will need a longer distance to slow down or come to a stop.

Rule Number Two: Avoid diagonal angles. Your tires have less traction on wet roads. When you are swerving, less of your tire’s surface is in contact with the road. As a result, you are more likely to go into a skid or slide on the pavement. Keep a lookout for a greater distance than usual down the road so you can anticipate when you may need to change lanes or avoid potholes or debris.

Make sure your tires have the correct amount of pressure. You are more likely to hydroplane with underinflated tires. Clean your brake rotors of water, mud, and debris by occasionally applying them safely and gently. Be aware that painted areas on the pavement, such as lane markers, are extremely slippery when wet.

Bridges, overpasses and any other road surface that has airflow beneath it can chill quicker than the rest of the road. These surfaces can become slick and icy as a result of their cooler temperature.

Rule Number Three: Know the road. If it has not rained for a while, the roads may have a covering of oil residue. According to Allstate, the first rains of the season will create a treacherously slick surface on top of the oil. Be especially careful in parking lots, and at toll booths and stop signs. Cars that are leaking oil tend to drop more oil in these locations than on the open road. Manhole covers can also negatively impact traction.

Because of the light reflection and darkening of pavement rain causes, it can be harder to see gravel, mud, and other road debris. The best advice is to expect crud on the roads during and after rain and drive accordingly.

General Tips for Safe Motorcycle Riding That Apply in All Types of Weather:

Do not tailgate. And if a vehicle is following you too closely, safely change lanes and allow the person to go ahead of you.

Before getting on your bike to ride in inclement weather, check your tires, brakes, shocks, and lights.

Make sure your headlights, indicators, and tail and brake light all work correctly. Ride with your main beams on in bad weather.

Your tires need sufficient tread depth to maintain traction on wet roads. Worn shocks can give you particularly poor road holding in adverse conditions. Ideally, your bike has ABS and automatic traction control.

Do not drive when lightning is occurring. Stay off your bike when it is very cold, or there is snow or ice. If you are riding in a crosswind, you may have to lean into it to stay upright. Be ready to compensate quickly as winds can shift without warning. In extreme crosswinds, some riders ride alongside larger vehicles to block the wind. If you do this, make sure you stay out of the vehicle’s blind spot.

Max Meyers Law, PLLC: Your Kirkland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

We hope you have a safe, fun ride every time you get on your bike. However, if you ever suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, Max Meyers Law, PLLC is here to help . Keep this number in your back pocket in case you ever need it: 425-242-5595.

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