"If You Don't Ride in the Rain, You Don't Ride"
On the other hand, it's hard to call a person who doesn't ever get wet a “complete” pilot. If we just think about going away on a small vacation, how awkward would it be to cancel everything in the middle of the trip just because we'd happen to cross a portion of the country and rain was pouring down?
Occasionally, I am sure that a lot of riders think about the choice they've made in such conditions; a trip inside the protected environment of a car may sometimes be dramatically more appealing than riding through the rain, looking for a shelter and constantly telling yourself “one more mile, I'm sure there's a place to hide from the rain until the weather gets better”.
Now, the truth is that pilots can be separated in two large groups: those who hate riding their bikes in the rain or would rather avoid the wet roads, and those who enjoy doing so or simply don't care too much about the weather.
Personally, I really like riding through the rain. If some cared to ask why, the answer would be far from simple. The first thing that comes to mind is having to ride through the rain on my first long trip, more than 800 km in two days. That trip has taught me that appropriate gear is well worth the money when rain starts to pour and one has no shelter or simply has to drive on. I believe that most pilots who don't ride in the rain are either not well equipped for this scenario or they can't or won't adapt their riding style to the weather.
Indeed, having to ride a motorbike when soaking wet is no fun at all; cold settles in quite rapidly, can make feet and hands numb thus affecting negatively the response times and distracting the rider. Even more, there's no point in catching pneumonia just for a ride's sake.
On the other hand, acceleration, braking and leaning are to be thoroughly reconsidered when on wet roads. Leaning too low, much like when cornering at high speed on dry roads, can cause both wheels to lose traction and ending the ride with a wreck. A more detailed article on the dos and don’ts of mixing motorbikes and rain will be features in the guide section of Autoevolution during the next weeks.
I'm not advocating that people should look outside the window on a rainy day and just clap their hands in joy: “Oh boy, mud, cold and poor visibility! Perfect!” But when people refuse to go for a ride just because of some distant clouds in the sky and the poor excuse “Look at those clouds, we might run into some rain, so I'll skip this one”, I guess their fear is pointless.
And then there are the motorbike owners who just cruise around the city and are more into getting noticed rather than enjoying their ride; they're dressed lightly almost all the time and most of them strongly believe that less-than-perfect weather conditions are not to be mixed with motorcycles.
And maybe it's also a matter of choice: some people hate winter, while others can't stand the summer, yet this does not make them better or worse.
In the end, knowing that lower speed, suitable weatherproof clothing and even sharper awareness are a must while riding through the rain, I believe that people shouldn't be that much afraid of adverse weather. At least not fearing rain more than their own mistakes in traffic, reckless drivers/ fellow pilots.