Six tips for a safer, smoother motorcycle ride in Singapore when the weather gets heavy
SINGAPORE – It’s been the wettest August in 40 years, with flash floods, record-making rain and more. But that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to ride your motorcycle – here we give X tips on how to stay rubber side up when the weather gods are pouring it all down.
The first and most important thing you can do to have a safe ride in the rain is to be prepared for the crap to come – all you need is your smartphone.
We all know car drivers go a little nuts in the rain, and it’s a huge help to know where traffic snarls are going to be ahead of time.
Firstly, Singapore’s NEA has an excellent weather radar and forecasts and even an app, both of which should be on your home pages. The app will also alert you to heavy downpours, flash floods and other weather-related events.
Secondly, check out Google Maps or Waze to see where accidents or slowdowns have occurred and either plan an alternate route, or wait until things get better. If you use Google Maps to navigate – we recommend voice nav only on a bike, to minimise distraction – it also updates your route on the fly to avoid delays.
A clean visor is one of the most important things you’ll need for riding in the rain. Why? A dirty or scratched visor makes moisture adhere to the surface instead of beading off. In fact, with a proper visor, it’s far easier to see in the rain than it is while driving. Always use a microfibre cloth and never use paper towels or tissues to clean a visor.
Pro Tip 1: Anti-fog also helps a great deal. Apply it to your glasses (if you’re wearing spectacles) and use a Pinlock anti-fog visor
Pro Tip 2: Apply Rainex for plastic to your visor and that will help water drops bead off. Important: Use Rainex for plastic, NOT the glass/windscreen version that will melt plastic.
‘If you ride the same way in the dry, then you’re crazy’, to badly mangle/adapt the song to suit the topic.
As it is with cars, water reduces the amount of grip and feedback available. Motorcycles reward smooth riding, and that’s even more true in the wet. But what does that mean for your riding? Be relaxed and gentle with all your inputs and leave extra room for braking.
One part of being relaxed in the rain is being comfortable – and that means yes, just go ahead and wear the raincoat, or invest in waterproof boots and gloves.
Pro Tip: You might be afraid of leaning over to turn the bike in the wet. In that case, using your body to hang off – where safe and sensible – will help the bike turn without excess lean angle.
A rider should always be aware of what their tyres are touching. But the road, is the road, is the road, right? No. Tarmac isn’t homogenous, and in the rain the conditions may be very different on the same stretch of road.
Keep an eye out for standing water and oil or diesel stains. New rain brings out oils that might have soaked into the tarmac, you can see them quite clearly as shiny, rainbow coloured stains on the road. Sections of road with more water appear darker too.
Water makes surfaces slippery, duh. But you should also be aware that water makes certain surfaces more slippery. In the rain, the white, raised road markings become extra slippery, as do metal drain covers and tarmac snakes. Jorge Lorenzo even crashed out of the lead of a MotoGP race because of slippery white lines.
Take care near construction sites too – numerous trucks dump dirt and gravel onto the road, and some sites use metal surfacing as a temporary road structure – those have almost no grip in the wet. Also take extra care on sealed concrete floors commonly found in car parks, these are no better than ice when wet.
If you’re heading for a slippery surface and can’t avoid it, don’t panic: The best thing to do is to keep the bike stable: straighten the handlebars (where possible), don’t back off the throttle suddenly, or brake or swerve to avoid.
Avoid standing water, as this can lead to aquaplaning. That refers to a situation where water is compressed between the tyre and the road, leading to a total loss of grip/control for the vehicle. Luckily, motorcycle tyres have a boat-shaped contact patch unlike the car tyres’ square-shaped patch and are less prone to aquaplaning. But caution still applies since motorcycles are, on the whole, less stable vehicles.
Pro tip: Car tyres are very good at pushing water away, so ride in their wake. The trails appear as a fainter line behind the car.
Bikers will know that Singapore’s longer tunnels like the MCE and KPE are very hot. As a result, when cars drive into them from a rainstorm, the heat and damp causes windows to fog up on the outside thanks to condensation.
Cars already see much less in the rain, and this ‘fog’ makes things very hard to discern in the side and rear-view mirrors, so bikers should take care to make themselves as obvious as possible – by avoiding blind spots, signalling early, and wearing hi-viz clothing.