When it starts raining on your ride, three things happen.
a) Tires will have less traction
b) Vision is impaired
c) You will get wet
All three of these things are going to happen no matter what you do. Your option is to A) either hide out in a coffee shop or under an overpass until it stops raining or B) just deal with it. My personal rain policy is when if I have a choice, I will not ride in the rain but when I do not have a choice, I ride. In practical terms, if it is raining when it is time for me to go to work in the morning, I will take the car. If the forecast for the day predicts more than a 50% chance of rain, I will take the car. Otherwise, when I ride.
Vision Is Impaired
Let’s look at the second item on my list of three, b) vision impairment. Face shield, goggles, or glasses all get rained on. Once they get covered with raindrops, not only does your vision drop down to about 35% of normal, but the oncoming car headlights (which are usually on when it’s raining) will turn every drop of water into a miniature light source. This is not a good thing.
Here’s what you do. First, treat your vision protection with anti-fog and rain treatments. The anti-fog treatments will keep the inside of your visor clear (generally) and the rain treatment tends to make the rain run down the outside faster than on a normal or dirty visor. This is a little bit of help.
Watch Out! Polycarbonates are susceptible to being ruined by using chemicals designed for glass only! Read the label before you apply any chemical to your face shield or other vision protection. You have been warned!
Even with these treatments in place, you will still have rain accumulation on the outside of your glasses or visor. So back to the basics, a quick snap of your head will toss the rain off and give you a few seconds of improved visibility.
Windshields may help or hinder the visibility problem. If your windshield is higher than your eye sightline, you will be looking through a zillion miniature light sources and still be getting rain directly on your visor or glasses. This is the time that you will be wishing your windshield was lower than your line of sight so you could easily see over it. A lot of riders set their windshield height right below their line of sight so that in dry weather, they can relax and look through the windshield (less buffering), and in wet weather, they can sit erect and look over the windshield.
If you are snapping your head to shake the rain off your glasses, be careful that you don’t just flip your glasses off along with the rain.
Test out your new anti-for and rain treatments on an old visor first. Make sure everything is compatible before you melt your favorite visor. If the anti-fog treatment doesn’t work very well, try another brand. You will eventually find the one that works for you. Then the challenge is to remember during dry weather to routinely apply this stuff so it’s in place when you need it.
Wiping your visor with gloves is OK as long as you do not have some kind of “Terminator” studs and other glove enhancements that will scratch your visor.
If your impaired vision becomes a hazard, pull off the road and don’t get back on the road until the problem is resolved. Resolved means that you have applied some more rain treatment, switch over to goggles of it has stopped raining. Taking an unnecessary risk is just not worth the consequences. Just deal with it and be late to whatever appointment you may have. What’s more important?
Don’t be all freaked out about riding in the rain, just be cautious and use good old common sense. Getting wet never killed anybody but “out-riding” your ability or losing your focus can be a real bad thing.
What I like best about riding in the rain is coming up to a red light and stopping next to another wet soul on a motorcycle. Usually, there is none of the standard chitchat, just a look of “I feel your pain.” Ahh, that’s what it’s all about.