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Old 05-20-2009, 06:12 AM   #1
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Default Motorcycles and Rain

Since moving south, where it always seems warm year-round, I've found that I ride year-round now. My wife has her car and I have both a motorcycle and a mid-size SUV. Anyways, I started thinking that maybe I should sell the SUV, and use that money for some other things I'd like to do. Thinking back over the past year I'm guessing that the SUV left the parking space maybe 2-3 times per month, and that was only if it was raining or forcasted to rain. Granted, we've had a dry year this year and last, but even in a "regular" year we don't get a lot of rain.

So anyways my question is, does riding a motorcycle in the rain do any harm to the bike? I'm thinking maybe along the lines of rust and other stuff. Is it not a good idea to let your bike get rained on if it can be helped, or does it not really matter? I've ridden in the rain before, and it didn't bother me, so I'm thinking that if it doesn't hurt the bike any then maybe I'll ditch the SUV and commit to just having the bike. Of course I'd still have my wifes car for the evenings and weekends if it was raining, so my short commute of about 10 miles would be the only times I'd need to ride in the rain - expectedly.

When I get to work, and the bike is drenched, should I just let it continue to get rained on, and then dry out, or put the cover on it while it is still wet? Not sure if one way is better than the other.

Any other 1 car 1 motorcycle families out there with suggestions or advice?
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Old 05-20-2009, 08:02 AM   #2
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Riding or sitting in the rain won't hurt a modern bike. You will have to pay more attention to chain maintanance and any pivot points like kick stands, shift linkages and any suspension linkage grease points because the road spray and dirt will wash away any lubrication and could cause things to bind. A little WD40 in the switches after a good soaking won't hurt either to disperse any moisture that get in and make sure your tires are new or near new heading into the rainy season.

Other than that rain riding is no big deal for the bike, invest in some good textile riding gear and waterproof boots and you should be fine. I have ridden year 'round in the pacific northwest for over 40 years in the dirt and on the street and probably half of that time has been in wet conditions, with the right gear and some defensive riding skills you'll be fine.

As far as covers go, yes and no. If you put a cover on before the bike gets wet then yes that's fine and a dry bike is a happy bike however I wouldn't put a cover on a wet bike because you're just trapping moisture+ engine heat. Moisture and heat cause corrosion, specially if it stops raining and the sun comes out, better to let it sit in the rain and dry naturally when it stops. I also tried the 1 bike 1 car scenario and wouldn't advise it, your wife needs her car for work so that leaves you with no back up for the inevitable flat tire, extremely crappy weather, case of the sniffles or injury or need to haul something. It looks good on paper but in my experiance it doesn't pan out in real life. I'm sure there are plenty who would disagree with me but like I said, in my experiance it didn't work..

Good luck and ride safe, remember water itself on the roadway is not a lubricant however it can bring up spilled lubricants from the road surface and standing water can cause hydroplaning, hence the new or near new tires for the rainy season
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Old 05-20-2009, 08:21 AM   #3
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+1 on Sarnali's advice. I spent 2 years riding everyday possible. I was glad I had the pickup as backup.
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Old 05-20-2009, 08:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by sarnali2 View Post
As far as covers go, yes and no. If you put a cover on before the bike gets wet then yes that's fine and a dry bike is a happy bike however I wouldn't put a cover on a wet bike because you're just trapping moisture+ engine heat. Moisture and heat cause corrosion, specially if it stops raining and the sun comes out, better to let it sit in the rain and dry naturally when it stops.
They have gore-tex covers now, if one wants to spend the money. I'm cheap so I don't.

A good rainstorm is about the only time my bikes get washed, anyhow.
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Old 05-20-2009, 09:36 AM   #5
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Being a happy resident of North Georgia, I can tell you we have seen our fair share of rain. My 87 K100RS sees about 10k rain miles a year. Never once has my 22yo bike failed me. As for gear: Tourmaster Transition Jacket and Calibre pants are sturdy and as weather proof as you could ask for. I've been is driving rain and not been soaked through on more than a dozen occations. It's not the highest quality gear, but dollar for dollar it's well worth the investment.
Do I cover my bikes? Used to, but I ride it more than I let it sit so I gave up the cover.
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Old 05-20-2009, 10:04 AM   #6
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We get a lot of rain in Florida, especially now. Over the years, I've picked some techniques for keeping the bike from corroding away. I do not cover the bike when wet; that traps the moisture.

First and formost: wax everything. Even the engine cases, frame, wheels, various items like footpegs mounts all get a layer of Carnuba wax.

Use WD-40 as a spray cleaner. The WD stands for "Water Displacing," and leaving a film of the stuff on parts that can't be waxed helps. If I have to park the bike wet, like coming home at night in the rain, I'll "fog" some WD around the engine area and under the body panels and fairing.

Boeshield, a sealer from Boeing that is used inside their aircraft to prevent corrosion is good stuff. It's a bit messy, but if you spray some on hidden areas it will leave a coating that lasts quite a while.

The bolts, hose ends, and banjo fittings get corroded fast. In the past I've painted them, at a minimum use something like "Never Dull" which is cotton wadding impregnated with an anti-corrosive. Good stuff, I've seen it at Lowes and West Marine.

Riding in the rain is more dangerous because the cage drivers become even more stupid than they are on a good day. They slide into stoplights, swerve out of their lanes to avoid puddles, etc. Not to mention the fact that the pavement paint and the metal grates on bridges become incredibly slick when wet. If you're going to do it, get a good rain suit and a helmet that has an anti-fog insert. I have gloves with a squeegee on the finger; they're really handy.

Last edited by Kenneth_Moore; 05-20-2009 at 10:25 AM..
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Old 05-25-2009, 10:12 PM   #7
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For rain riding it's hard to beat a full-coverage helmet and flip-down face shield for keeping your head dry. Some Rain-X (don't buy the imitation stuff you sometimes see) on the shield (and windshield if you have one) also helps visibility tremendously.

(For cold days, a warm scarf around the neck at the base of a full-coverage helmet (balaclava optional) is as good as it gets if the rest of you is properly dressed; I've ridden comfortably, without a windshield, in -10 temps with helmet, leather to keep the wind from penetrating clothing and stealing body heat, and a set of Saranac snowmobile gloves.)
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