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Wet weather riding

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by dagadaga, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. Hey guys just an update, should probably call this 'should I take my first ride in the rain thread?' haha

    I got the bike Friday afternoon and it wasn't raining. Yet. I couldn't ride it though as I had to leave straight after I took delivery to pick up a friend who lives only about 30kms from me. By the time we got bike it was sprinkling a little but the urge to ride was too great and I took the bike out while my friend just watched haha.

    I was quite nervous having only ridden in the pre-learner course two weeks prior but I was surprised how much I remembered from the course. The first thing I realised when I first sat on the bike, both at the dealership and now was the bike felt much much bigger than the CB125 I rode! My helmet was very tight as it was new and needed breaking in which didn't help my nerves as it was quite distracting at first. Anywho, my excitement took the better of me and off I went. I rode around my block for about half an hour just practising the basics I've been reading in the 101 threads and from the pre-learner course. Was a bit wobbly at first but soon got steadier. Had to jump off as I had dinner plans but came back a few hours later..

    Arrived home at around 11pm and got the gear out right away :) I had some friends over who were just chatting and having coffee whilst I was riding around the block. By then the sprinkling had turned into rain and I got my first taste of water on my visor :( Tried to stay steady on the throttle as possible as the roads got wetter and wetter. There was not much traffic on the roads and as my friends were leaving to go home I thought I'd try to follow them on the bike and see how I went on roads out of my surrounding blocks despite it starting to rain quite heavily.

    I was surprised with how well I did following them for the roughly 20km journey but the first things I noticed is how much I struggle with my indicators and stop-turn starts and what I think to be over using the rear brake. I'm getting 'better' at shifting and braking before the turn, maintaining throttle and looking through the corner but I struggle finding the indicator and remembering to turn it off when I do use it. This was a bit frustrating for some drivers I encountered at some roundabouts lol.

    One of my biggest worries at the moment is stopping and having to move off left or right from a stationary position. I noticed I wobble a bit, mainly when turning to the right side. I usually have to put my right foot down almost every stop start for a right turn as I'm moving off to steady myself. I don't think I struggle with my left as much as that's the foot you put down after stopping? As I don't have a 'mentor' lets say at the moment to show me what I'm doing wrong as my friends who ride are busy at the moment does anyone have some suggestions I could try out to help correct this behavior?

    I also think I'm over using the rear brake. I was a bit worried about using the front too much when it was raining but I think its becoming a habit that I'm using the rear brake all the time to slow down or come to a stop? When hard braking or coming to a stop I also use the front but I find I'm using the rear a lot. I'm not sure if its something I'm doing wrong or maybe it's because I'm riding in pretty much all 50km residential areas?

    Any pointers would be much appreciated!

    Cheers guys :)
    happy riding
  2. Sounds like you are progressing.
    More throttle on take offs be positive and committed, look around the corner where you want to go. It sounds like you are being too timid on the take offs.

    Indicators is something you just have to learn to do automatically, straighten up and press the cancel button., Pilots are taught to scan the sky left to right top to bottom then the instrument cluster. Learn to take in your instruments as part of your road scan that will let you know if you have forgotten the indicator,

    Braking, find a car park and practice, over and over.

    Sounds like you are going well, have you gor some mates you can go riding with?
  3. #3 twistngo, Feb 17, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
    Indicators become part of your routine after a while. Left mirror, right mirror, indicator.
    Practice straight starts in the car park first and get them smooth.
    Slow riding and figure of 8s are good.
    Rear brake is a prick when it locks so be careful. Main focus should be the front.
    Only really need the rear for slow riding, when the front is a prick.

    PS Sounds like you're going OK. Good stuff.
  4. #4 jmc, Feb 17, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
    Pretty much the only time I ever touch my rear brake is if I'm stopped on a slope, bike is in neutral I'm sitting upright, to stop the bike from rolling.

    The rear wheel can lock up fairly easily if you hit the rears with any reasonable force. You might discover this is when you need to stop quickly sometime.

    I'd strongly recommend you try to do at least 75% of your braking on the front. I do more than 95% of my braking on the front.

    Wet or dry doesn't matter, I just allow for more stopping distance in the wet and don't brake as hard.
  5. I always use my rear brake when stopped at the lights, but that's most of it's use.
    I also frequently spam my indicator cancel button. Even on the highway I'll randomly press it every now and then. Weird, but handy habit, IMO.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  6. My indicator tips were:
    - "take off turn off" - eg when you set off from a stop/slow before your corner, when you change gears the first time hit your indicator cancel button
    - keep your thumb on the indicator switch as you go through the corner - that will remind you to cancel it. I don't do this myself as it's not comfortable for me but may work for you

    Well done for getting out in the rain! Not something I have done much of yet :)
  7. Spamming the indicator cancel button is a good habit, but with practice you will build the muscle memory to turn the indicators on and off without even thinking about it.

    For take off turns "just do it" lots of revs slip the clutch, drag the rear brake all this will make the bike more stable. Keep your eyes up look where you want to go and "just do it". Again as you build confidence and muscle memory, you will do it without thinking and you won't need to drag the brake slip the clutch and all that it'll just be pop the clutch and roll the throttle on.

    Snap out of this rear brake only habit for stopping. Use both brakes together, don't be scared to use the front because the roads are wet or any other reason. Don't be afraid to use the rear because some one says "it's a biatch if you lock it up" trick is don't lock either brake and you won't have any issues, and its not hard if you use proper technique and practice it. "Set up and squeeze" I won't go into detail as there are threads already dedicated to this technique.

    To help you understand why using both brakes together is important try the following:

    1. Perform a controlled stop from 60km/h with rear brake only
    2. Perform a controlled stop from 60km/h front brake only
    3. Perform a controlled stop from 60km/h with both brakes together

    You will be able to feel a massive difference in stopping power with all three stops with 1 being the weakest and 3 being the strongest.

    If you ride around with the poor advice of using the front only the one time you need every single nm of braking force to stop you before hitting the side of the car that just pulled out on you your not going to have the skill to effectively use both your brakes together. Apart from providing added braking force using the rear brake also stabilises the chassis of the bike by compressing the rear suspension.

    Remember it is early days, and it will take you months to develop your skill set and the rest of your life to refine it. Right now you have to think about every little thing you do, but in time it will be instinctual, you won't have to think about things you will just react as required.
  8. #8 dagadaga, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
    Thanks for all the advice guys :)

    I should probably add my bike is a 2014 Ninja 300 ABS model, thought I'd be a bit safer and go for the ABS. I've tried to upload some pics but whenever I click 'insert image' I just get a blank red box on the screen.

    I went for the most difficult ride since I've had the bike last night which was only about 25kms out but involved some traffic and the hume highway. I think I did okay, I'm still wobbly on turn starts but I was better with the indicator.

    I actually was trying to mix it up with the brakes as iClint said and I could feel a huge difference when utilizing both brakes at once and I was trying to use the front a little more. Luckily it wasn't raining and I got to ride in the dry finally! As the bikes new I have to run it in and keeping it under the Kawasaki advised 4k RPM is very very difficult lol. Even in 6th at about 60kms I'm at 4-5k RPMs. I've got the eco symbol coming on almost the whole ride which means I'm doing ok on taking it easy on the motor I guess.

    I try not to ride between 5pm-8pm as there's usually an ample amount of cars on the road. Yesterday I rode out to a mate's place at about 9:30pm and this is the first time I tasted wind at higher speeds, I only reached 70 tops but riding home at about 12:30am at that speed I got some chills haha. I guess I just wasn't expecting it as I've been riding residential streets and haven't gone that quick before.

    The ride to my mate's place wasn't all smooth though even though I am MUCH better with the indicators now haha, I remember at the pre-learner I kept honking my horn when trying to indicate. Some mishaps were that I jerked first gear quite a bit as the Ninja 300's friction point is riiiiiight at the end of the clutch being released and still takes a bit of getting used to whilst being nervous at the front of the line waiting for the green light. The slipper clutch does help a huge bunch though in being very forgiving for bad clutch releases.

    I do have some mates I can ride with but they generally only ride weekends and are busy most nights. I've got a ride organised with some buddies this weekend but I definitely want to hit the learner meet at Olympic Park this Saturday.

    Another thing I noticed is that I always have my feet at the gear shifter and over/resting on the rear brake as I ride, I guess it might be because I'm new and it feels like it gives me a little more control over the gearing and braking on the bike. I read in another beginner thread here however it's better to keep your toes/balls of your feet on the foot pegs? I have my knees wrapping the tank almost always but apparently you gain more control with this method. I did try it yesterday as I rode, my knees hugged the tank more but I was lost a lot of smoothness on gear changes. As I'm running the motor in I'm shifting constantly and feel I need my foot on/under the shifter at all times unless cruising?

    Love this site so much information its ridiculous. I also got my first 'nod' from another rider at the lights last night on the way home :). When I got back home I realised that my bike had just clicked over to the first 100km milestone! I have now ridden 100kms hehe.

    Loving the community that's opening up by riding, if anyone would like to go for a ride some time I'd be more than willing! I'm in the Canterbury region in Sydney.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  9. Don't worry too much about the knee thing at first. There are enough other things going on. Most of that discussion was about going hard, not about basic control.
    If your feet are over the the brake and gear levers you can react too fast.
    Get it smooth and worry about niceties later. Most of the problems disappear as you think ahead more.
    ABS should help a lot.

  10. I'm at Liverpool if you are ever looking for a shadow when your ready to take on some more adventurous rides.

    My advice though, would be get a good grasp on the basics in your local area before biting off more than you can chew.

    I would also suggest you finish running in your bike before heading to homebush for a practice session, it is important you load the engine, and shift up and down through all the gears.
  11. You can get down to see the guys in Homebush on a Saturday, they are fairly close to you. And would welcome another participant. Some knowledgeable guys and girls to talk to.

    [NSW] Sydney Learner Sessions (weekly)
  12. Early on, I found it best to do as the instructors at Stay Upright taught, which is to have the arches of your feet on the pegs, but point your feet outwards when not using the controls.
    This method is very easy to master, and works well right up until you lose half a boot around a hairpin. Then it's time to bring your feet back and slip then forward when you need them.
  13. Hi Guys, looking at the weather warning in the daily telegraph here. Is it safe to ride a bike in a electrical storm. I know the Tyres insulate you from the ground, but a car also gives you the added protection of a "Faraday cage" around you in the form of the car body.

    Should I get a lift home this evening from work and leave the bike? Or will it be safe enough. Sorry if this is a really dumb/obvious question.
  14. I'll be riding home from the City, no way i'm leaving my bike in the city for the night. Time to test out the wet weather gear!
  15. Oh yeah definitely will hit you up once I've got the basics down pat. I've read some people use a different run in method, something about a variable run in? Is there a better method to use running in rather than just trying to keep it under 4k the whole time? Sometimes it's just impossible to keep it under 4k in any gear above 60kms/hr. When you say 'load' the engine should I push it past the 4k mark?

    I'll definitely be giving this a go! Yeah I usually have the arches of my feet on the pegs, I find this method is pretty helpful having quick access to the controls and helping me reduce the jolts I get from speed bumps. Hopefully I won't lose a shoe and will remember to bring my feet back in haha.

    Yeah I've got the same warning which ruins my plans to go for my daily practise ride tonight :(
    Did you have somewhere secure you could park the bike? If you're not too confident riding in wet weather let alone crazy storms I'd probably try and find a secure place to leave the bike and take it back tomorrow. I heard its going to be about 30-50mm of rain in the north and west of Sydney, I'm definitely too new to try my hand at those conditions just yet. Let us know how you go though! They say the storms are late afternoon, if you can get out before it hits definitely go for it.

  16. Good question, I highly doubt you are at any risk of being struck by lightning, maybe if you are riding home via Hay, but their are other objects in Sydney that will be much better lightning conductors.

    The heavy rain (possible hailstones, not forecast, but it is Sydney) is the bigger issue.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  17. Best advice I can give is get some decent wet weather gear - the stuff is much better now than it used to be. Some of the gloves seem to be waterproof these days - bought a pair recently but haven't had to try them out yet. Can you still buy the waxed cotton mitts that go over your gloves? I remember them, but the water used to run down to backs of your arms and into the gloves!
    It's hard to concentrate when you are wet with water running down the back of your neck and sloshing about in your boots! Get decent gear!
    I can remember riding from Newie up to Grafton on an Honda XBR500 (naked BTW - the bike not me) one Easter in the late '80s and it was absolutely pissing down - was drenched by the time I got to Taree - with another 5 hours in the saddle before I got to Grafton. Like we did in the olden days - I commuted regularly from Maitland to the old Newcastle Steelworks and when it was raining would wear steel capped wellington boots plus the old yellow BHP rain pants - actually a good combination. It cost nothing because it came from the store at work.
    We had it toof in the old days - kids today …. I just shake me head
  18. I do thankfully, I ended up having to leave it at work as it was only firing on 1 cylinder when I started her. New HT leads are needed I reckon, they mush have left water short out the plug.
  19. How often do you get struck by lighnting in a car?

    You're more likely to be involved in an accident in the shitty weather than you are struck by lightning. I don't and wouldn't worry about it.
  20. Some good tips here already. Here's something to consider next.

    1. The harder you need to brake, the more effort needed on the front brake. This is because braking transfers weight off the rear tyre onto the front. A good visual of this is a see-saw. After a while, you can be your own EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution).
    2. On a curve, front brake will try straightening the bike, while the rear brake will try to tighten up the curve. A bit of rear brake can help with your precision around off-camber roundabouts.
    3. Emergency stopping on a bend: before braking, cut in for an early apex, to give you the road to straighten and squeeze on maximum braking.
    4. Front-wheel locked up? DO NOT release the brakes until the steering is aligned to your trajectory.
    5. Tapered braking. Considering point number 1, you might start with front and rear, increasing front effort for firmer braking. As you approach the end of your braking, your rate of braking should be easing, finishing with just rear. If coming to a stop, pre-empt the bike to lean left at stop.
    I hope these are of value to readers. Might write a book one day :)