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TRUST your Tyres

I picked this query up recently from a rider on a bike forum.

I thought it would be beneficial on here for anyone seeking advice on the same issues.

"I am afraid of cornering on wet surface. I am afraid I will get a skid and fall. What is your experience with skidding on a wet surface? Would you for example corner cautiously or you do not think about it at all? Would you use some technique how to recognize the grip during current conditions when you ride?"

The only real issue is your in your head.

Modern tyres will grip almost as well in the wet as in the dry, all you need is confidence in them.

Best way to start to gain that confidence is to understand the physics.

Tyres have a tread pattern built into them. Daft as it is, the tread pattern isn't what creates the grip. Grip comes from the rubber compound gripping the road surface. The tread pattern is designed to allow the rubber bits to do their job in wet conditions.

What they do is channel the water away (See image). As the solid rubber hits the water it would fail to adhere to the road as it would be a barrier (aquaplaning). The water is squeezed into the tread grooves and as this occurs the rubber then grips onto the surface. The edges of the tread effectively 'cut' through the water.

Some tyres such as the Michelin PR series (3 & 4) have sipes in them. These are very fine grooves which feed the water out of the main tread so water doesn't get the opportunity when it's torrential to build up. The bonus of this is that it clear normal water more effectively, stops the water cooling the tyre, and gives a better feedback and grip. It's the same technology used on winter tyres for cars to disperse the water before it re-freezes.

Now about that head?!

Trust the tyres that they're doing their thing!

When riding in the wet make a conscious effort to relax. Drop your shoulders. Let your elbows flex. Gentle grip on the handlebar grips, think holding a bird type level of grip (I mean sparrow btw?!).

Make sure you get your speed down in a straight line before entering the bend/corner/hazard.

Use all three brakes. Throttle off (engine brake). Rear brake and front brake at 50/50%, again gently and not harshly. Take the appropriate gear, bring revs up to match the road speed (blip or hold throttle slight open as you let the clutch out). Consider a gear higher than you normally would use as the idea is not to lose traction. Too low a gear make cause wheel spin.

As you take the hazard remain relaxed and drop the leading shoulder/elbow into it. This will help balance the bike, keeping it slightly more upright. Keep throttle feathered/slightly open through the hazard as this will generate grip using the torque, breaking the surface of the water allowing the tyres to work.

Best way to learn is to get out when it's raining and practice when you have no time constraints (i.e. not going to work when it starts raining).

Three point advice is understand what the tyres are doing, relax and be gentle with the controls.

T.R.UST. - Tyres - Relax - Use Suitable Traction

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