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Riding on wet roads: can you tell when you're about to lose traction?

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Riding on wet roads: can you tell when you're about to lose traction?

Old 05-11-17, 07:01 PM
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Riding on wet roads: can you tell when you're about to lose traction?

I am a new rider and have started commuting to work most days on my Trek Crossrip.

We're coming into winter here in the South, which brings more rain (but fortunately no frost or ice!), and I'm a bit wary of riding in wet conditions.

I have disk brakes, but realise the actual traction of the tires is going to be substantially reduced on wet surfaces. My main fear is losing traction on turns, particular as I'm clipped in. My bike has 32mm Vittoria Voyager Hyper tires, which are semi-slick touring tires with about 0.8mm of tread (@70psi)

So my question is this: is it possible to tell when you're "on the edge" of losing traction and can this be recovered before tipping over?

Thanks for any advice!

John
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Old 05-11-17, 07:16 PM
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You def have to ride differently in the rain, IMO. Watch out for paint and be especially careful on first rains, similar to driving a car I suppose. When riding, you will be able to feel the front/rear tire sliding out from under you and be able to save yourself, along with a little of that roller coaster feeling. Just reduce speed and stay vigilant about road conditions and you'll be fine.
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Old 05-11-17, 08:27 PM
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Depending on your weight, 70 psi might be high for such large tires in wet conditions.
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Old 05-11-17, 09:01 PM
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler
is it possible to tell when you're "on the edge" of losing traction and can this be recovered before tipping over?
The usual failure mode is not "tipping over", but rather "washing out" or "wiping out" as most cyclists call it.

It is possible to tell on a wet pavement.
Impossible on ice, paint strips, metal plates/grates/rails - the loss is sudden and so quick that you are down before you realize you are going down. Also watch out close to intersections as vehicles use to idle there while stopped, dripping minute amounts of lubricants on the road, and once the rain starts you can't see the oily drops, but they are there, lying in wait to ambush you.

Recovery is possible, depends on skill and experience. If you regularly rode in snow, on sandy surfaces or muddy mtb singletrack you would have the skills developed. Acquiring those skills by simply riding on (wet) roads is improbable as it would take forever.

I have ridden Vitoria V Hypers on my SS in the wet quite a lot, they are not a bad tire for those conditions.
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Old 05-11-17, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by IK_biker
The usual failure mode is not "tipping over", but rather "washing out" or "wiping out" as most cyclists call it.

It is possible to tell on a wet pavement.
Impossible on ice, paint strips, metal plates/grates/rails - the loss is sudden and so quick that you are down before you realize you are going down. Also watch out close to intersections as vehicles use to idle there while stopped, dripping minute amounts of lubricants on the road, and once the rain starts you can't see the oily drops, but they are there, lying in wait to ambush you.

Recovery is possible, depends on skill and experience. If you regularly rode in snow, on sandy surfaces or muddy mtb singletrack you would have the skills developed. Acquiring those skills by simply riding on (wet) roads is improbable as it would take forever.

I have ridden Vitoria V Hypers on my SS in the wet quite a lot, they are not a bad tire for those conditions.
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like I should get some practice on a safe but slippery surface (e.g. wet grass) so that I become familiar with the sensation of losing traction in a turn and practice recovery manoeuvres.

Is it a good idea to unclip your inside foot from the pedal when entering a tight turn just in case you need to put your foot down if the bike slides from under you?
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Old 05-11-17, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by johngwheeler
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like I should get some practice on a safe but slippery surface (e.g. wet grass) so that I become familiar with the sensation of losing traction in a turn and practice recovery manoeuvres.
Or you could just slow down if it's wet.
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Old 05-12-17, 12:33 AM
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Lol, you're seriously overthinking this, jusrydjyobikeman!
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Old 05-12-17, 12:52 AM
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I loose traction when climbing hills. If I slip for a half a pedal stroke, I may be able to recover. A couple of strokes, and I lose all forward momentum. I've just decided to unclip and put my feet down rather than pressing my luck too far.

Originally Posted by johngwheeler
Thanks for the feedback. It sounds like I should get some practice on a safe but slippery surface (e.g. wet grass) so that I become familiar with the sensation of losing traction in a turn and practice recovery manoeuvres.

Is it a good idea to unclip your inside foot from the pedal when entering a tight turn just in case you need to put your foot down if the bike slides from under you?
As others have mentioned, slow down and take it easy unless you're racing.

Having the bike slip out from under you can happen very quickly, but I wouldn't unclip unless you're sure you're crashing. Learn to unclip quickly.
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Old 05-12-17, 12:53 AM
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I think cycling is similar to riding motorcycle.
Whenever I get caught out on my bike, I change my riding completely.

Main advise is avoiding manhole covers, white/yellow road markings, cat eyes and plan your braking IF possible. Start your braking earlier and smoothly. I should actually say, avoid leaning the bike or braking on any of the above hazards.
I know some 'better riders both cyclist and motorcycle' can do it leaned over but I don't, I'm not Froome or Rossi.

Also, if you have a choice, go riding after a massive downpour, better than the first drizzle because after the downpour, the roads are a bit 'cleaner'
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Old 05-12-17, 02:28 AM
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When it is wet I mainly worry about other cars losing traction and hitting me. People seem to drive like idiots when it is wet.
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Old 05-12-17, 03:20 AM
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I don't tend to cycle in the rain however I was once caught in a shower of showers rain storm on my crotch rocket. It was a challenging experience as the slightest tweak of the throttle would set the rear on a spastic fit. Cornering was the equivalent of a geriatric trying to navigate a maze. Top that off with a consistent river of cold rain water making it down between your nether regions and it made the entire experience quite horrible.
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Old 05-12-17, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83
Or you could just slow down if it's wet.
This.

It's happened to me a couple of times on turns. One time the back end slid, I over corrected, got side ways and down I went. It was dark and it happened so fast there was no way to recover from it.

The second time it happened the back end slid slightly and I was able to correct and recover. But it was one of these Oh sh*t moments that was very scary.

I learned. I slow way down on corners when it's wet.
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Old 05-12-17, 06:05 AM
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Painted markings are the worst. You'll just go down instantly, see Froome in the last TdF.
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Old 05-12-17, 06:19 AM
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Do you hit corners at 30mph during your commute? Just take it easy. If unsure, go even slower.
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Old 05-12-17, 06:57 AM
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Also, beware of blacktopped parkinglots. They're typically much more slippery than road asphalt.

If you're being relatively safe, you really dont have a lot to worry about on wet roads, you still have plenty of traction for most conditions. As others said, maybe slow down a touch. But really...just avoid paint/manhole covers while turning or braking, and try to avoid turning and braking at the same time. Also allow a bit of extra stopping distance. And don't get crazy and lean way over in turns like a tour de france rider.
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Old 05-12-17, 08:47 AM
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The short answer is "No, you cannot tell when you're about to lose traction on wet roads." It just goes. That's why riding less aggressively is required.
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Old 05-12-17, 08:49 AM
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I salute your tire choice

My bike has 32mm Vittoria Voyager Hyper tires, which are semi-slick touring tires with about 0.8mm of tread (@70psi)

John[/QUOTE]
I commute on Voyager hypers on my singlespeed, in the city, and tour on them on my touring bike, including gravel bike paths. Superb, smooth rolling, good grip and no flats for me in thousands of miles. Fine in rain on pavement. Follow the other responders wet riding suggestions. You're rolling on terrific tires.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by motorapido
My bike has 32mm Vittoria Voyager Hyper tires, which are semi-slick touring tires with about 0.8mm of tread (@70psi)

John
I commute on Voyager hypers on my singlespeed, in the city, and tour on them on my touring bike, including gravel bike paths. Superb, smooth rolling, good grip and no flats for me in thousands of miles. Fine in rain on pavement. Follow the other responders wet riding suggestions. You're rolling on terrific tires.
+1 as well on great tires. I recently replaced my 40mm Voyager Hypers with GP4000sii's...I'm thinking of switching back.
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Old 05-12-17, 09:29 AM
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main thing is, when cornering in the extreme wet .. . Do Not Lean. Slow down,. lean your body more and keep the bike as upright as possible. When you get on the edge of the tire the slightest wiggle can bring you down so fast you won't know until you hit the pavement. Keep the bike close to vertical. Move your body to get the balance you need.

You will do fine.
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Old 05-12-17, 10:35 AM
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I can only give you my experience so here goes. I have ridden motorcycles for 40 years. I have been an MSF Instructor for the state of CT. And, I have ridden bicycles for about 35 yrs. The biggest difference to me is that the contact patch of a bicycle tire is about the size of a dime while (relatively) the contact patch of a motorcycle is considerably larger. If you lose the the tire on a bicycle tire I can't believe you can bring it back. If you can, you are a TdF rider. At least, that's my view.
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Old 05-12-17, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by bruce19
I can only give you my experience so here goes. I have ridden motorcycles for 40 years. I have been an MSF Instructor for the state of CT. And, I have ridden bicycles for about 35 yrs. The biggest difference to me is that the contact patch of a bicycle tire is about the size of a dime while (relatively) the contact patch of a motorcycle is considerably larger. If you lose the the tire on a bicycle tire I can't believe you can bring it back. If you can, you are a TdF rider. At least, that's my view.
Actually, I think the biggest differences are the weights. A motorcycle has greater overall weight, as well as much higher wheel weight. There is a real gyroscopic effect on motorcycles...not so with bicycles. I imagine this makes a motorcycle much more stable at speed with iffy traction.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:01 AM
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No, you can't.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:05 AM
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Also, throttle control on motorcycles.
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Old 05-12-17, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by PepeM
Also, throttle control on motorcycles.
You don't have a wattage dial on your road bike for the same effect?
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Old 05-12-17, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan333SP
You don't have a wattage dial on your road bike for the same effect?
The kittens let him know.
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