your Motorcycle in the Wet
many riding their motorbike in the wet for even a short
distance is intimidating. It is in fact merely a decision"
pulled up at the robot this morning. The rain continued
to fall as it had done for three days previously. I
heard a ’thump’ and the noise of plastic on asphalt
as a biker sprawled across the intersection in front
of us all.
minutes we had him and his motorbike parked at a local garage
where he could wait for his wife to come and collect him.
Besides his one shoulder he was unhurt - possibility he would
be in worse shape once his wife got hold of him!
For the purposes of discussion (and not for blame) there are
a good number of things about this accident that deserve to
The first and most obvious, was the huge oil (or diesal) spill
on the road at the intersection. The shape and distribution
of the spill screamed one thing - the spill was not accident!
It had been planted earlier that morning by the vulture who
mysteriously appeared out of nowhere seconds after the bike
came to an untimely halt (vulture - an independently owned
tow truck driver). Any leaking truck using the intersection
would have deposited the oil in a logical way as it passed
through. This spill was random and illogical throughout an
large area around the entire intersection. There was nothing
to be gained in accusing the dog and he disappeared as quickly
as he arrived once he realised that no business would come
Secondly, the biker was onboard a light off road bike with
enduro tyres. This is not the ideal commuter as these tyres
offer no traction in wet weather on a hard surface. Deflating
them by 25% does help however when faced with no other alternatives
The biker rode downhill into the intersection. Braking on the downhill is always
a problem even in dry weather. With poor training the rider can pitch more weight
onto the front wheel than is needed thereby stressing the already limited traction.
When braking under these conditions it is important to brake early, sit upright,
grip the bike with your inner thighs and relax your arms - this keeps your body
weight off the handlebars while braking.
For the biker, snapping the brakes on (whether the front or the rear) was a survival
instinct when the robot suddenly changed to red. This is difficult to fight in
practice. Linked brakes and ABS systems go a long way in cancelling out this problem.
In a perfect world, bike brakes are always applied progressively. This way the
tyre traction increases throughout the braking process (especially true of the
rear brake should be applied first in the wet. The back brake must work harder.
Sitting upright as possible and an under inflated rear wheel does increase its
traction under braking. If the back wheel locks up and the bike begins to fish-tail,
no problem - LOOK UP, LOOK AHEAD, RIDE STRAIGHT. ’Forget’ about the rear wheel
and start progressively applying the front brake - even in the wet it offers more
stopping power than the rear if applied progressively.
The bike in this incident bore all the typical signs of a crash - broken controls.
The controls i.e. handlebar levers and foot levers always take a pounding during
an accident. This is why during long distance, rural touring always take a spare
clutch lever mechanism and gear lever. If you cannot operate your gears you will
be looking for a ride to the nearest town for both you and your bike with a possible
long wait for spares. Things like damaged turn indicators can be repaired by duct
tape (repair tape) and should be an essential part of a touring bikes essential
The rider mentioned walked away with only an injured shoulder and dented pride.
This is where his protective clothing came into its own and saved his bacon.
Fact is, all bikers will find themselves separated from their pride and joy and
dumped on the asphalt at one time or another. For some however it happens less
frequently than for others