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Cornering in the wet - how to learn your limits (safely!)

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by tirian, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Hi guys,

    I've been riding for 6 months now, and my riding continues to improve frm week to week as I try to put into practise all the stuff I was taught in the learners and license courses.

    One area that puzzles me is how to learn the limits of my bike with regards to cornering in the wet. I must admit I go so slow around corners (roundabouts and at intersections) when it's raining I probably annoy other drivers. But I'm not sure how to discern the limits of the bike without pushing it so hard I get that "sinking" and "crashing" kind of feeling.

    Any thoughts - just be patient an let exprience build up incrementally?

  2. I just try and improve everytime I ride in the wet. I try and stick to roads and corners I know (so I don't get caught out). But remember its wet and will go slower and the road apparently is not a race track!

    Ride more often in the wet.
  3. i am very confident in the dry now - but im the same in the wet - totally annoy the crap out of drivers as I go around so slowly..

    mostly because i know that my tires need to be changed! once i get new ones i will just gradually take corners at a little more speed and angle..and feel out the limits..

    at the end of the day, do you think those drivers that you annoy will give a shit if you are wrapped around a pole somewhereo nthe side of the road? Are they going to do your recovery or pay your medical bills? most definitely not - so im going to go as slow as I must to be safe.
  4. I know exactly what your saying, I've always tried to gauge where the limit of traction is in the wet, on the track and the road. It is easier in the dry as the tyres generally slide more progressively but in the wet 'bang!' you're down.

    I guess once you gain more experience, your subconcious memory remembers times when you've slid (and either crashed or saved it).

    A lot of times I try controlled 'traction sampling' to gauge friction coefficent on different surfaces; like purposely locking the front wheel when the bike is vertical and when it won't catch me by surprise.

    I also might purposely gas it harder or dump the clutch to get the rear spinning to see how good my tyres are for the conditions; I do this on the track.

    I think 'sampling traction' on purpose and when you are ready for it gives a better insight for riding for the conditions.

    As a kid sliding my car around corners could of been perceived as 'hooning' and I'm sure it was (and still is :wink: ) but it helps to learn control of your vehicle in those panic situations.
  5. ^^^^ I agree totally,

    Does it really matter if we hold up the drivers for maybe 10 secs in the rain? just remember how often they hold you up in the dry.

    Be safe, practice more.
  6. Yeh, I am so slow in the wet, not on the race track but on the road, I have to be concerned about cars running up my arse with vision impaired rain conditions.
  7. Re: Cornering in the wet - how to learn your limits (safely!

    You said it yourself. :)

    And I agree with Johnny O...I will 'traction test' a little, in various road conditions in the wet, just to see how my grip is going. It's so easy to toss yourself down the road in the wet if you don't have a feel for the conditions.
    But experience speaks for alot when it comes to wet riding...mainly being able to judge the amount of grip you have.
  8. I usually stop, get off the bike and walk it around the corner.
    :shock: :p

    I find I take corners slower ( if thats possible for me :LOL: ) in the wet.
    ie in slow .... keep throttle constant ...no abrupt input from either steering, throttle or brakes until you have negotiated the turn and are upright.
    PS . by keeping the throttle constant, the bike will slow once leaned ( due to running on smaller diameter section of the tyre )

    Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.
  9. Make sure you don't brake going into corners; get the braking done gently before you start to turn. Then experiment with getting the power on a little more each time (gently). As long as you're gentle, you will learn at which point the rear begins to give way and thus know the limit of your bike.

    Generally speaking, the tyres grip in the wet much more than you imagine.
  10. Yeah, I have managed to get the back end to slide maybe twice. Got the adrenalin running, but I got it under control fairly naturually. I am more concerned about the front end slipping out - once it starts I guess there is nothing else to do but put your foot down on the ground and hope for the best.......

    I'm thinking the bike can do much more than I expect - just wondering if I need to resign myself to dropping my first bike a couple of times and not being precious about it!

  11. Pushing it in the wet is generally a bad idea, as paul found out not too long ago :grin:

    On the straight you can gas it as much as you want on a small bike, just take corners slow, and turning at intersections / any area where oil would be built up from slow traffic / being stopped (ie lots of cars dropping oil on the ground), ride ultra slow there.
  12. both is great advice, always consider the surface and place you are riding in the wet, if it's in cities/roundabout etc lots of oil, so if it's only very fine rain you will find the road will turn greasy first, during heavy rain you will find it will wash it away. On country roads consider environment around, lots of trees over hanging the road will generally drop leaves etc this seems to build up un the centre of the lane, as winter/wet conditions approach this turns to a slippery slim, so best to ride in the wheel tracks.

    All in all it's practice, and remember in the wet, you have to be smoother, in every application, from braking, to aggressive lines/tip in points to throttle control on exit. Get all this right and you will be well on your way to mastering wet weather riding :)
  13. wet stuff

    Hey Tirian, Im a 4 month old ride, and your post took the words right out of my mouth when it comes to wet weather riding/corning.. I can really appreciate your situation and logic.

    On Saturday I had my first "Oh F**k' moment around a roundabout in Williamstown, turning right. I swear I was crawling around the damn thing, but the rear end just slide and stepped out a tiny bit. My heart hit the tank, arms stiffened and i put my bl**dy leg out like I was riding a dirt bike. Stupid but luckily i just kept on the throttle at the same rate and it worked out. My riding buddy behind me said that it was just the slightest movement, but I swear it felt like I was either going to drop and slide for 50 metres or get thrown high side... anway, after I pulled over and almost threw up, I realised that the bike is very forgiving and does give you a bit of leeway with grip/composure that you just wouldnt think possible. Johhny O nailed it in his response and a few other riders have complimented his answer very well. I now know what it feels like now, so if in future that happens again, I can stay calm so to keep the bike upright and in control and go through a split second process in my head to follow. The body language of my bike on Saturday has now given me that extra bit of knowledge/exposure that comes with just spending time in the seat learning in those conditions.

    I really believe that you dont have to drop the bike a few times to learn. Thats expensive and un necessary to be honest.

    Im pretty slow in the wet and very nervous still on some days and ok on other. Its a mental challenge sometimes to balance confidence and fear of the next 1 to 2 seconds. I often even get a bit annoyed at myself that I am so conservative at times (Ie - My wet weather riding skill is not keeping up with my dry weather riding improvements), but we are 6 months into what will be a 30 to 40 year adventure, maybe even longer, so I reckon just keep riding in the wet, self evaluating as you go/reflecting on the various corners etc, and just push the speed and lean bit by bit as you go.

    I sometimes just go to empty car parks/quiet roads and stuff to practice emergency breaking and countersteering, even if just for 5 mins in the dry, but if you want to learn your and your bikes limits, maybe you could do that in the wet one day? I should do that to now I mention it!

    or, go to Armstrongs in Thomastown and pay one of the blokes there $80 for an hour on one of their bikes (drop it as much as you can if you want) to get some tuition on what you want to learn. I got me learners and licence there and plan to get an hours coaching soon when I can.

    Good luck mate.. Greg
  14. Re: wet stuff

    Exactly! :grin: ...and it's refreshing to see a newer rider putting things into the proper perspective, rather than the typical threads where newer riders seem to be searching for the "quick and easy" version of 20+ yrs experience. Well said, Greg! :)

  15. Traction testing is fine for those with the experience to do it safely but is not for the new rider :shock: It all happens very quickly in the wet and the results can be catastrophic, for instance a front end push on a left hander will see you on the white line or the greasy middle of the lane what do you do then?? Take it easy in the wet and build your experience slowly, the bike is talking to you all the time you just need to learn how to understand what it is saying.
  16. easy does it...

    cheers for that...

    in the excitement of being a new rider and riding with an experienced mate who has a Ducati 1000 (scares me that thing!), I must admit it is at times a challenge to ease up on wanting to become 'too good too quick' around corners etc and also resisting the temptation to start planning your next bike thats 900cc + when you cant even take a corner slightly quicker than snails pace with without dropping the F Bomb under breath as you resist the massive urge to stop looking at the exit point.

    I do stress about young and new Scooter rider/City Commuters I see in Melbourne who are just hell bent on what to become the worlds best lane splitters. I think thats what keeps me patient even though its against my nature mostly : )
  17. Great advice everyone, i am going for my MOST in about 3 months.. helps alot