When springtime comes and the weather warms up, it's time for my buddies and me to get out and ride our dirt bikes. I've noticed that on rainy days, a few of my buddies are nervous to ride. They're worried that the rain will damage their dirt bike.
Dirt bikes are made to be ridden in the rain, so it's safe to ride them in wet weather. However, if a dirt bike is left out in heavy rain for an extended period of time without being ridden, both cosmetic and mechanical damage can occur.
If you want to know all the ins and outs of dirt bikes and water, keep on reading!
What You Need to Know About Riding in the Rain
If you're a little worried about riding your dirt bike in the rain, I totally understand where you're coming from. But don't stress too much; Emma Jo is here to help you learn everything you need to know about riding your dirt bike in wet weather-- the good, the bad, and the ugly. (But not in that order. Sorry.)
What are the Risks?
There are cosmetic, mechanic, and safety reasons to be worried about riding your dirt bike in the rain. But honestly, none of them are that serious as long as you keep your dirt bike moving.
Cosmetically, some people worry that their riding their dirt bike in the rain will get rusted. Some people might even worry that the wet ground will make mud stick to their dirt bike more severely than usual, which could cause paint chipping or scratching when trying to clean the dirt bike.
While it's true that rain and other water sources can cause rusting on your dirt bike, you can honestly avoid the issue by cleaning your bike up as soon as you get back home. You can read more about your dirt bike rusting a bit further down in this post.
As for the concern that some people have about mud on their dirt bike, you don't have to stress about that too much either. Even if the weather and trails are dry, you will probably end up with mud on your dirt bike somehow. It's just part of the sport.
There are preventative measures for these cosmetic concerns. Read to the "Tips" section to find out what to do.
Mechanically, water can cause some pretty severe damage to your dirt bike, but only if it gets into the motor parts of the bike. This probably will not happen to you if you're riding your dirt bike in the rain, though. So again, don't stress too much about this happening while you're riding your dirt bike in wet weather.
What I am honestly most concerned about when it comes to riding in the rain is that there are more risks to your safety when the world is wet than when it is dry. (Because Emma Jo truly does care that her friends and readers stay in one piece while they're riding their dirt bikes.)
The biggest safety issue when riding your dirt bike in the rain, in my opinion, is that mud is slippery. You are at an increased risk of losing traction on your dirt bike when you're in the mud, especially when it's super wet, loose mud. When the trails start getting to that point, it's pretty likely that you're going to fall and maybe even get injured.
But I wouldn't stress too much about that unless it is raining heavily or has been raining steadily and non-stop for several days (which I have seen happen). The risk grows with the amount of water on the ground, especially if there is some flooding happening on the trails and they look more like rivers than anything else.
When trails start flooding and looking like rivers, there is some extra mechanical risk for your dirt bike. If the water on the trails gets high enough, the motor on your dirt bike could potentially get damaged.
If you're dirt biking in the rain and come across one of those trails, it's honestly up to you to make that judgment call. I know some people who really love riding on those trails because they say the dirtier and more risk the better, but I also know some people who would turn around and try to find drier trails in that situation. I personally side with the latter group, but it's just because I hate dropping my bike on slippery trails.
But in most situations when the rain is just slow and steady, it honestly will not cause too many problems while you're riding your dirt bike. Yes, trails might get a bit slippery, but as long as they don't turn into rivers, you are probably not at too much of a safety risk there.
Another potential safety issue when riding your dirt bike in the rain is that your goggles can fog up, making it really hard to see. There are some pretty obvious solutions to this problem, but I personally hate them because foggy goggles are the bane of my existence. If you're like me and would rather struggle to see than stop to air out or clean your goggles, this can be a safety issue. (Don't judge me for being lazy, please.)
If you're the kind of dirt biker who just gets exhilarated by seeing mud fly all around you while you're riding, you're going to love dirt biking in the rain. For me, it's fun to watch in my peripheral vision how the mud just circles around my bike. It's the dirt bike equivalent of jumping in puddles as a kid-- so much fun!
Riding your dirt bike in the rain can be an awesome experience if you're an adrenaline junkie (and I'm pretty confident that most dirt bikers are, at least a little). As I outlined before, riding in the rain can be a bit dangerous. For some people, the danger will keep them away. But for others, the higher the risk, the better. Slipping and sliding on loose mud can be pretty darn fun as long as you maintain control of the dirt bike and don't fall over, which can lead to injury.
A lot of the cons that I'm about to lay out are totally preventable with good gear and effective planning and preparation or solvable by taking easy steps, but I'll go over them anyway. It's only fair.
As previously mentioned, there are potential risks with cosmetics, mechanics, and safety. Those are cons in and of themselves, but I won't talk about them again.
Another thing I previously touched on but should be talked about again is the fact that goggles can get pretty foggy in the rain. My experience with this, though, is that it doesn't get too bad unless you've stopped moving.
If you don't have the right gear or clothing for riding in the rain on a dirt bike, it feels like you're being pelted with needles. Big, big con. That'll ruin your day.
Riding in the rain can also be really cold if you're soaked and moving fast. Again, you can prevent this with good gear and clothes.
Even worse than being soaked by the rain on a dirt bike is being half wet and half dry on a dirt bike. It's just not comfortable. I've noticed this happening when the rain is light.
Sometimes, water will pool in your lap when you're dirt biking in the rain. This isn't a huge deal, but it's kind of uncomfortable. It just doesn't feel right.
Tips for Riding in the Rain
I told you that most of the cons of riding your dirt bike in the rain are preventable or easily fixable, right? Well, here's how to prevent a miserable dirt biking experience!
- If you haven't figured it out already, the right gear will totally make dirt biking in the rain an awesome experience. Here's the gear you need:
- Waterproof gloves. If your arms are straight out when you're on your dirt bike, get gloves that go over your sleeves. If your arms are lower than shoulder level on your dirt bike, get gloves that go under your sleeves. This will help keep water out of your gloves and sleeves, which will help you stay warm and dry.
- Waterproof riding gear. Your riding gear may or may not be waterproof, so make sure it is or buy a new set. Wearing waterproof riding gear will help protect your body against the needle-like raindrops while keeping you dry. Bonus points if your gear comes up to the top of your neck to keep water from dripping down your back.
- Waterproof boots. Again, what you already have may or may not be waterproof. If they're not and your feet get wet, it'll be a bad day. Nothing is worse than wet socks inside wet boots.
- Good socks! Some good options for your feet in the rain are wool socks or compression socks. Wool stays warm even if it's wet, and compression socks are just good and tight.
- Wear high visibility gear. This needs to be its own point because it is so important. It's harder to see in the rain-- plain and simple. So if your gear is all black, you might not be seen by other dirt bikers or OHVs. Wear hi-vis gear to stand out against the blur that the rain puts on the world so that you can stay safe.
- Even if your gloves are waterproof, there's a chance that water could somehow get inside. If it happens, do not take your gloves off unless you are done dirt biking or absolutely need to take them off. They will get really cold once they're off, and putting cold gloves on is not pleasant. Trust me on this one. You'll hate your life.
- Be careful riding through puddles. Maybe even avoid them. They can be super fun to ride through, but how deep they are can sometimes be deceiving when they're full. Just be careful and trust your gut.
- Stand up! If water is pooling in your lap, stand up as you ride so it can fall off of you.
- Bring a change of clothes for the ride home in a dry bag. Even with waterproof gear on, your clothes are at risk to get wet when you're dirt biking in the rain. That being said, you're going to want to bring a change of clothes with you. Nothing is more uncomfortable than sitting in wet clothes in the car.
- Ziplock your phone or other important items you're bringing with you. I honestly recommend leaving your valuables in the car, but some people like to have them with them. If you're one of those people, a dry bag isn't enough. Put these things in a ziplock. You could even put napkins in the ziplock for extra protection.
- If it won't get in your way or make you uncomfortable, wear little hand warmers in your gloves and even in your socks. Even if you're wearing the best waterproof gear out there, you could still get wet, and getting wet means getting cold. Hand warmers don't seem like much, but they really do go a long way. It can be a little snug or uncomfortable, but hand warmers always help me stay warm when I'm dirt biking in the rain. Especially because fingers and toes are usually the first things to get cold!
- Pro Tip: you could even put them in your pockets under your riding gear for extra cold rainy days. This might be a bit more comfortable as well.
- Don't go so deep in mud that the motor gets covered. It could ruin your dirt bike.
- Wear roll off goggles. They can be pricey, but the extra water and mud that's flying around you will make them worth it.
- If buying new goggles is too expensive for you, try using something like Rain-X so that the mud and water roll off of your goggles and you can see no matter what.
- Wear goggles that are vented. Like I said before, foggy goggles are the WORST. If it's in your budget, vented goggles can be lifesavers on a rainy day.
- Pre-treat your dirt bike for a rainy day. A good pre-treating spray will help prevent mud from caking up too bad and it makes cleaning up really easy.
- Clean up your gear and your dirt bike as soon as you can. Keeping everything clean will help it last longer. Not to mention, it is so satisfying to see how dirty you made your dirt bike by seeing how clean it can get in comparison.
Leaving Your Dirt Bike in the Rain
Leaving your dirt bike in the rain is not going to kill it, but you should be cautious about duration of the time your dirt bike spends in rain as well as how hard it's raining.
When is it OK?
It's OK to leave your dirt bike in the rain if it's only for a short period of time. (Like, less than a day.)
If it's just drizzling or raining slowly or lightly, it's fine to leave your dirt bike in the rain.
What to Avoid
Avoid leaving your dirt bike in the rain if it's raining for several days at a time. You'd be surprised by how much water can fall during those rainy days. If you leave your dirt bike out in the rain for several days, you're running the risk of rust buildup and damaging the motor.
If your grandmother would say it's raining cats and dogs, don't leave your dirt bike in the rain. I'm talking about the heavy rain that comes down fast and hard or that falls in sheets. Again, this type of rain can lead to rusting or motor damage.
Tips and Tricks
If you need to leave your dirt bike in an un-sheltered area when it's raining, cover your dirt bike with a tarp. This is honestly a good practice even when it's not raining, just to protect your dirt bike from other elements.
If you tarp your dirt bike, make sure to take it out at least every other week to keep condensation from building up. Condensation can do just as much damage as straight rainfall.
If you don't have a tarp or a shelter, try to spray your dirt bike with something like WD-40 to avoid rusting.