To Ride or Not to Ride: Figuring out the Weather

Riding a motorcycle makes you an amateur weather forecaster.

In the months from October to May I check the weather at least twice a day, once before leaving for work and once before heading home. Often this is just to double check how warm or cold it is outside to make my final layering choices, but once it starts raining it becomes a bigger deal. I am somewhat a fair weather rider. I will ride in the rain, but I prefer to play it safe when it really starts coming down.

My rational for weather to ride or not is this: If I can get to work reasonably dry and have a nice ride home I’ll risk going to work in a little rain. However working in wet anything sucks so if it looks like rain all day or a crappy ride home I’m driving. This often means I do get caught in heavier rain than is fun to ride in, but it also means I rarely get stuck in a car on a nice sunny afternoon.

When there is rain in the forecast I have a very specific way of checking the weather before I decide if I’m riding or not.

It starts the day before. Almost every evening I check the weather and look at the hourly forecast and see what it looks like for my morning commute.  I never make my decision then, but I know what to look for the next morning.

Every morning part of my morning routine is checking my email etc. Of course if I hear rain on the roof I know my chances of riding to work are low. For most of my weather checking on the computer I use weather.com. I’m not endorsing them, I have a love hate relationship with weather.com, however I find them to be pretty accurate and I know the site. I would suggest using whichever site you find the most accurate.

I spend a decent amount of time every year looking at this site.

I spend a decent amount of time every year looking at this site.

I typically use the hourly forecast to decide if I’m going to be able to get to and from work dry. However if it is currently raining, or supposed to be raining soon I use the radar.

Where exactly the rain is right now.

Where exactly the rain is right now.

This helps me figure out where exactly the rain is. Figuring out if it will pass soon or if I’m doomed to drive etc.

Of course all this electronic stuff still does not show you everything as I’ve discovered. The radar does not show fog or heavy mist. For some things you still have look outside and see.

Last but not least is a good weather app for your phone so you can do all these things while on the go, or just when you are too lazy to get up from the couch. In this regard I actually do have a strongish opinion. I’ve tried several and so far I really like the Yahoo weather app.

Weather App2

Radar just a bit smaller.

Weather App1

Everything you need.

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About MotoCynic

I started riding motorcycles in 2006, and there is no going back. I've ridden more than 100,000 miles, most of it on a Ducati Monster, and despite setbacks and murderous BMW's I'm loving every mile.
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5 Responses to To Ride or Not to Ride: Figuring out the Weather

  1. Agreed. I’ve told folks that you’ll know it’s going to rain when you don’t find my bike parked in the lot at the office. If my bike is out there it’s probably gonna stay dry.

  2. Ry Austin says:

    Your opening sentence says it all, Cynic: I believe that all regular riders go about with a suspicious eye to the sky.

    The few conditions in which I usually won’t ride are downpours in late fall or early spring, and icy or snow-covered roads. Non-riders look at me in confusion when I say that rain in fall or spring is different than rain in summer–it’s all about the accompanying temperature.

    Rain in summer often is refreshing, and if it is cold, one usually can stay warm easily or warm up quick. Rain in cold temperatures can quickly become dangerous. In winter, as long as the road surface is clear, I’ll ride–even in a flurry (a flurry won’t get ya wet).

    Of course, my commute is pretty short

  3. motoventures says:

    My commute is 40 miles…one way…and at 6,500 feet above sea level. Oh yeah, and right up against some 14,000 foot mountains here in Colorado. 🙂

    Because of all that, weather can change extremely fast, so I need to be really aware of what the forecast looks like! I won’t ride if there is a chance of snow, ice, wind over 30mph, or 60%+ chance of severe thunderstorms. Everything else is fair game.

    Like you, safety comes first. However, I have sometimes found that riding in rain is strangely soothing. In fall/winter, layers is definitely my friend, and the heated grips help too.

    Great post, fellow weatherman! 🙂

  4. ccpressnet says:

    I have 48 mile round trip commute. If the roads are wet or sprinkle on way to work, OK. If it’s pouring and I arrive at work soaked, no. But, on the way home who cares if you get wet? At the end of every year when I count up the number of days I could have ridden instead of driving the ‘cage’ I always resolve to ride a little colder and a little longer. Ride smart and ride often my friend.

  5. I have no problem riding in the rain, but dont tend to set out to do it. If its available in the US, the Pocket Weather app is really good.

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