Does riding in the wet fill you with fear?
I actually enjoy riding in the wet and whether you choose to or not the likelihood is you will at some stage find yourself riding a wet road so avoiding the inevitable won’t make it easier when that day arrives.
Avoid tensing your body, locked elbows with fear fuelled grip on the bars will only make your bike feel nervous and twitchy further fuelling that fear a relaxed position will allow you to be smooth and the bike will feel more confident.
The bars are controls hold them lightly, dropping your shoulders and elbows your forearms should roughly be parallel with the tops of your legs regardless of the type of bike you ride, hold yourself on the bike with your inner thighs this relaxed position will allow your bike to cope with any minor loss of grip it will also make it easier for you to be smooth with the controls making the bike feel confident building your own confidence.
Bends & Roundabouts.
Remaining in our relaxed position on the bike we need to balance care with confidence, we know riding very slowly effects the bikes balance making it feel nervous that will not help you if you are already feeling nervous. What will help is to generate cornering forces which push the tyre onto the road surface improving grip.
The above diagram demonstrates how as lean angle increases so does the force pushing the tyre onto the road surface.
The above does rely on the level of grip available which goes back to my previous comment regarding balancing care with confidence the essential ingredient is being smooth by initiating the turn smoothly we are less likely to force the tyre to lose grip.
On approach whilst upright set your speed for the corner, staying relaxed lean and turn you want to negotiate the bend with an open throttle, not accelerating but enough throttle to maintain a constant speed through a curve as you build confidence you may find you can apply a little more throttle to gradually build speed through the curve. Keep your eyes up looking through the curve toward the exit, it is al;l too easy for our focus to be drawn to the wet road surface but allowing this to happen will again increase your feeling of nervousness.
The way to brake in the wet is the same as in the dry, progressively, squeeze the lever which in turn shifts more weight onto the front tyre increasing as you continue to squeeze the more load applied to the front tyre the less likely it is to lose grip although both in the dry and wet it will have a limit, stay relaxed avoid locking your elbows and continue to squeeze the lever.
The important part is ensuring you have shifted the load onto the front wheel before applying any substantial braking this will help to prevent a loss of grip, should you lose grip your relaxed position will allow you to release the brake and reapply as before.
Progressive braking can be carried out quickly and is the best method even in an emergency of course forward planning and anticipation are the best ways to avoid having to brake in an emergency so give yourself more space and time than you would in the dry.
By now hopefully you will have noticed a theme, smooth and relaxed. Sudden or harsh movements of the throttle can force the rear tyre to break grip or if the bike leaning over we could force the front tyre to break grip.
Dry or wet the most effective way to accelerate is to wind the throttle on progressively, increasing the throttle smoothly as your speed increases neing in the correct gear helps avoid you having to close and open the throttle to control your speed when negotiating bends etc. Think of your throttle as an adjustment instead of an on off switch.
Ok i havent mentioned the rear brake, abs, linked brakes or traction control because that all becomes very bike specific but the above requires practice and the best time to do this is in the dry it then all becomes natural and part of every day riding so the day you either get caught out in the rain or are bored of waiting for summer and get out for a ride in the wet you will enjoy it making it a ride fuelled by fun and not fear.
If you have read this far then here is a short video which shows riding in the wet can be fun, it comes with a warning Dont try this at home.