Hydroplaning or aquaplaning is a term used when you lose control over your bike because the tires lose traction with the road and actually ride on the water layer and not on asphalt or gravel. This situation is extremely dangerous, much more dangerous than riding on ice with studless tires. Thus, it is vital for a biker to know how to avoid hydroplaning and how to behave if the wheels do start to “float”.
How does hydroplaning occur?
If you’ve ever paid close attention to the tire tread pattern on your motorcycle, you may have noticed that there are typically one or two deep grooves running down the center of the tire, with many smaller grooves branching out towards the edges. These grooves serve an important purpose – they help to displace water from under the tire, ensuring that the contact patch with the road remains intact.
Under normal conditions, such as riding in light rain or on damp roads with puddles, the tire grooves are able to channel the water away easily. However, in heavy downpours or at high speeds, the grooves may not be able to keep up with the volume of water in front of the tire. As a result, a wedge of water can build up in front of the motorcycle tire, gradually increasing in size.
At a certain point, the contact patch between the tire and the road may become interrupted, causing the tire to literally “float” on the water. This can cause a loss of control over the bike, which can be a dangerous situation for riders.
Causes of Hydroplaning
There are three reasons why your bike’s wheels might start to “float”:
- You love pushing the limits and cruising at high speeds in heavy rain.
- You neglect to check the condition of your tire tread and end up riding on bald tires. In our motorcycle app CryptoMoto you can easily find shops that sell new tires and reliable service centers that can equip your bike with fresh rubber.
- You fail to check and maintain proper tire pressure regularly.
It’s not hard to explain why hydroplaning occurs when you’re traveling at high speeds. No matter how new or fancy your tires are, they simply can’t keep up with the amount of water underneath them. Some of the water may disperse to the sides, but not all of it. So, eventually, your bike will start to “float” and become difficult to handle.
It’s pretty clear what happens when you’re riding on wheels that are worn to shreds. There simply are no grooves left to clear away the water from the contact patch.
Now, the danger of low tire pressure might not be immediately obvious. On the surface, it seems like lower pressure would give you more contact with the road and make for a smoother ride, right? But here’s the thing: when your tire is underinflated, it doesn’t slice through the water on the road the way it should – it just sort of smooshes it around and swallows. And when the tire’s grooves aren’t in the right shape because of low pressure, they can’t channel water away like they’re supposed to. That’s when you get into the hydroplaning territory. If you don’t know what the recommended tire pressure is for your bike – just ask around on the CryptoMoto biker app. There are plenty of riders out there who’ve been in the same boat and are happy to share their experience. Don’t be shy – we’ve all been newbies at some point!
How to prevent hydroplaning on motorcycle
When riding in rainy weather, the first thing to keep in mind is the constant risk of hydroplaning, which could result in a dangerous crash.
To avoid this follow these tips:
- Do not exceed a safe speed limit on wet roads, and always adjust your speed to adapt to the road conditions. If you see a large puddle ahead, slow down to a minimum.
- Avoid sudden movements and make sure to accelerate and decelerate smoothly. You may not even realize you’re hydroplaning, and if you suddenly twist the throttle, you’re likely to lose control and crash.
- Do not try to maneuver your bike. When you’re hydroplaning, your bike won’t respond to your steering, and attempting to make sharp turns or lean your bike will only cause you to crash.
- Use engine braking to slow down. When your tires lose contact with the road, normal braking won’t work – your bike will skid, and you will fall. Engine braking is only possible with a manual transmission. Press the clutch and start gradually depressing it. You will feel the moment when the clutch begins to turn off the engine speed and, accordingly, slow you down.
At the motorcycle app CryptoMoto, you’ll not only find useful tips for riding and maintaining your motorbike but you’ll also connect with like-minded individuals and have the opportunity to earn money doing what you love. Download the app for your iPhone or Android smartphone and check out the detailed instructions for earning money on the CryptoMoto biker app in our social media and in the table of experience points.