Great title for an old movie, but I don’t know many bikers who think riding through a rainstorm is any flavor of fun. Recently, I had the “opportunity” to ride 9 hours through rain (often a downpour). Not much of a choice on sitting this one out, because the forecast was the same for the next two days and I had a job to get to, so through the rain I rode. Along the way, I learned a few things that you might find useful.
Safety comes first. Tires bad? Stop. Bad highway with pooling water? Stop. Torrential downpour? Stop. Tired? Stop. Not confident in your ability? Stop. But, if you decide to ride for extended periods in the rain, here are a few things to consider.
Let’s start with luggage. All of those great pieces of “motorcycle” luggage come with a rain cover, which helps for a while. But for extended periods in steady rain, plan on some amount of water getting in. Why? I don’t have a clue, but I can tell you that with the rain cover securely fastened over the top of a quality backpack type bag that was strapped to the sissy bar and rested on the passenger pillion of my seat, a lot of stuff in the bag got wet. Every place on the bag was covered except the bottom, which rested on a covered seat, so the water was likely forced in through the bottom due to wind pressure. Fortunately, I put my computer and camera in heavy duty, waterproof bags. Tank bag? Same deal, but again, the essentials were in sealed plastic bags.
Now about saddlebags. Go with hard bags if you can find them for your ride because they will stay dry inside (as long as the gaskets are good). If you go with soft bags, your stuff is going to get wet. I spent 150 bucks on custom “waterproof” covers from a canvas maker. These are waterproof, well made, and fit snugly. Nevertheless, my bags had puddles in the bottom at the end of my ride. My guess is there is absolutely no way to stop water spraying up off the roadway, the wheels and being forced in by 60-70 mph wind from getting into any tiny opening. I think the water was forced in between the cover and the bag and once inside, it had no way to escape.
The most important rain gear you can have is a rain suit. Don’t scrimp … buy quality. My Tourmaster gear kept me dry and warm for the entire ride in 60 degree temperatures (rain gear also makes a great windbreaker in cold weather). I’m not crazy about boot covers … mine got in the way when shifting/braking and were awkward when my feet were on the ground and during rest stops. But, they did keep my boots dry.
Other stuff. Some seats absorb water rather than repel it. I have a custom seat cover and it was worth it because after the rain is long gone and you’re wearing jeans, your butt isn’t getting soaking wet from a saturated seat. ABS brakes are simply better on wet roads (and I personally think they’re better all around). If you have them, great. If you’re going to be an all weather rider you should consider them for your next bike.
If you ride, you’re gonna get wet. Dealing with it properly won’t leave you singin’ in the rain, but it will make the experience less aggravating.