How to Ride a Motorcycle in Wet or Icy Weather

by Contributor

Wet pavement, particularly just after it starts to rain, along with mud, snow and ice, can mean disaster for motorcyclists who aren't particularly careful. Here are some pointers for operating safely in wet and icy conditions.

Avoid slippery spots if possible. Always drive on the driest pavement you see ahead of you.

Reduce your speed - particularly on curves - because it's harder to stop on slippery surfaces. Don't forget, the speed limits posted on curves apply to good surface conditions.

Use both brakes and remember that the front brake is more effective than the back, even on slippery pavement. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel.

Avoid using the front brake, though, on extremely slippery surfaces, such as ice. Squeeze the clutch, look for an escape route and gradually coast to a stop. (Attempting this maneuver at anything other than the slowest of speeds could be dangerous.) If you must ride on icy or snowy roads, keep your bike straight up and proceed as slowly as possible. Avoid sudden moves and abstain from any quick changes in speed or direction, which can cause skidding on slippery surfaces.

Turn, brake, accelerate and change gears as little and as gradually as possible. Make no changes at all in very slippery places, such as a patch of ice, until you've crossed it.


  • check Remember that oil leaked from cars and trucks tends to build up in the center of the lane, particularly near intersections. Ride in the track created by the wheels of moving cars. Also, watch for oil spots when stopping or parking. Putting your foot down in the wrong spot can make you slip and fall.
  • check Certain sections of a wet road dry out faster than others, and snow melts quicker on some sections than others. Stay in the safest part of the lane whenever possible.
  • check Consider skimming your feet along the pavement to keep from falling when you're changing lanes on extremely slippery surfaces, but only attempt at the slowest speed.
  • check Stay away from the edge of the road when making sharp turns at intersections or when entering and leaving freeway ramps at high speeds. Dirt and gravel tend to collect along the side of the road.


  • close Be warned that it's next to impossible to keep your balance on ice, hard-packed snow, or wet wooden surfaces. Follow the advice of the most cautious and experienced motorcyclists, who stay home when the roads are covered with ice or snow.
  • close Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous activity that can result in serious injury or death. We recommend that you seek proper training and equipment before attempting this activity.

About the Author

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