Riding in the Rain: How to Protect Yourself (and Enjoy the Ride)
By Tracey Cramer-Kelly
I’m not going to tell you “don’t ride in the rain.” (That would be very hypocritical!) While most riders don’t purposely choose to ride in the rain, you can’t be sure that a trip that starts with sunny skies will end that way. Heck, in Minnesota the weather can change by the moment!
But let’s be honest: Rain makes riding a motorcycle more complex and, yes, dangerous. But there are things you can do to increase your safety and make riding in the rain an enjoyable, rewarding experience.
In this article, I’ll address comfort.
Let me be really straightforward: Anything that distracts you when you’re riding is potentially dangerous. In rainy weather that could be a trickle of cold water that leaks down your neck, chilling your whole body.
So it’s important to take some time (and spend some money) to get proper waterproof clothing and gear.
In rainy weather, there’s no way to get around the most common-sense item: A full-face helmet. You can keep your half-helmet or “beanie” helmet for sunnier weather, but make the investment in a full-face helmet if you expect to ride in the rain. Our advice: Get one with good venting.
For those who argue that their full-face helmet fogs up in the rain or cold, we have a solution for that (and it’s less than $20): Get yourself an Anti-Fog insert. Problem solved.
Today’s riding gloves are amazing, and we recommend you have at least two pairs with you while riding: A lighter weight pair and a “workhorse” rainproof pair. Still, there are drawbacks to gloves. The biggest one (in my opinion) is that gloves add bulk, which can make it more difficult to grip and definitely more difficult to shift gears.
So, recently I’ve been experimenting with Hand Guards. These are basically a “fairing” for each hand that allows you to adjust the area of protection for each hand.
One of the better ones we’ve found is the WingShields by Brukus, which are made of a tough polycarbonate which makes them extremely difficult to break, yet light (and clear, which we like). You clamp them to the handlebar or mirror stem and align the curved shield ahead of your hands.
Not only will they protect you from rain, but airflow over your hands will be reduced, making your gripping area warmer.
Get yourself a quality rain suit, preferably one that incorporates a breathable membrane such as Gore-Tex or similar material. Don’t “cheap out” on this!
Keep your rain suit with you (I’ve been guilty of violating this one because I like the “naked” bike look) and pack it on top, not at the bottom, of your saddlebag. Or better yet, put it on before you ride.
Use a windshield. Nothing else is more effective at protecting your body, and yet there is much confusion about correct windshield height. Your windshield should be low enough to look over, not just through. Read more about windshield height here.
Legs & Feet
I’ve found it takes some experimentation to find the right pair of waterproof boots, but they really make a difference if you get caught in the rain.
I hate to say it, but I wear a men’s boot. It’s changing, but for a very long time the only options for women’s boots didn’t have nearly the traction and waterproof qualities of men’s (so they think all we care about is fashion, not safety!?).
Another great idea is the Desert Dawgs Rain Guards/Wind Deflectors. These soft lowers slip onto your engine guard bar like a glove on a hand and will keep rain off your legs and feet.
Most riders say they experience significant rain protection; many of our customers swear by their Dawgs (some going so far as to claim they saved their life during a downpour or even snow). Read more and watch the video here.
- Make sure your rain gear fits properly and is in good shape.
- Choose bright colors for increased visibility.
- Transfer wallet, keys, and other essentials to waterproof outside pockets.
- Watch windshield wipers of oncoming cars to see if it’s raining ahead.
- Put on all your waterproof gear and have someone turn the hose on you to check for leaks!