Monday, February 4, 2019

The Virtues of Rain Mode

Rain Mode: Motorcycling’s Unsung Hero

Story by Jim Foreman

At the mere mention of ‘Rain Mode,’ many riders who have that feature on their bike scoff, hack, and guffaw.   Inevitably, that rider will ask, “Well, is it raining?”

In metro regions such as Los Angeles, the overwhelming advice for riders when the weather turns wet is, “Don’t!”

So, unless it’s pouring water outside, why should you ride in ‘Rain Mode?’  The answers may surprise you.

Rain Mode on the new TFT Display on the 2019 BMW R 1250 GS
Rain Mode makes up one of several EFI Maps and Electronic Suspension settings riders can choose, often dynamically.  It’s like getting 2-5 different motorcycle attitudes with the press of a button.

‘Rain Mode,’ as defined by BMW Motorrad is this:

“When riding on wet roads and in difficult grip conditions, the onus on riders is lightened in "Rain" mode due to the particularly soft control and response characteristics, yet the full torque and power potential is still available. The electronic control system ASC (Automatic Stability Control) responds earlier than in "Road" mode. If the (motorcycle) has the optional accessory Dynamic ESA, damping action of the front and rear spring struts is adjusted to soft according to the conditions.”

Ok, We all get it.  When it’s raining, select ‘Rain Mode.’  Then, comes the curious question, “Are you suggesting you ride in ‘Rain Mode’ when it’s not raining or wet?”  The answer is, “Yes!”

While mastering another discipline, a phrase attributed to Marine Colonel Jeff Cooper was repeated over and over again.  “Slow is smooth.  Smooth is Fast.”  It’s a derivative of, “Make haste, slowly!”

Riding 'El Espinazo del Diablo' in Rain Mode
After a rainy day riding in ‘Rain Mode,’  the following day proved to be dry, picture perfect and wonderful for carving some impressive canyons.  About two-thirds of the way up, I was wondering why I was riding exceptionally smooth and surprisingly quick?  A glance down at the dash revealed ‘Rain Mode’ was engaged.   Whoa!  That was an epiphany!

What was ‘Rain Mode’ trying to teach this well-trained rider? The answer is simple, “Be smooth to be fast!”

Don’t worry about being fast.  That is a trap many riders fall into, often with tragic results.  Be smooth.  Be deliberate.  Take the time to line up your corners and braking points.

Have you carefully watched professional racers watching WERA or MotoGP racing?  Has it ever dawned on you how smooth they were despite exceeding 200MPH (320kph)?

They didn’t start out that fast.  The racers practiced being smooth.  With being smooth came speed.  The smoother and more deliberate they were, the quicker their lap times.

One doesn’t need a bike with ‘Rain Mode’ to practice being smooth.  You can practice being smooth with your braking, acceleration, and transition of body mass.

If you typically ride the streets in Race, Slick, or another high-performance mode, you’re doing yourself an enormous disservice.   Not only are you disabling most of your safety features but you’re not learning how to be smooth.  You’re being aggressive and hurky-jerky.  Though at most street speeds, the suspension will compensate for this inefficient riding style.  The danger is if you encounter gravel, tar-snakes, off-camber paving, cross-traffic,  or surface irregularities like potholes while embracing jerky riding.

Instead, say, “Smoooth!” in your head when braking and accelerating.  Practice this.
In little time, you’ll be quicker than your race-wannabe buddies.  You’ll also have a lot more options and time to react to a sudden or dangerous road condition.  Imagine the pride you’ll feel when you dust your riding nemesis to the end of the run.

‘Rain Mode’ is a phenomenally good way to practice being smooth.

“Slow is smooth.  Smooth is fast!”

Irv Seaver Motorcycles in Orange, CA
Irv Seaver Motorcycles is Orange County’s BMW Motorcycle dealer.  Since 1911, they have been proving SoCal with motorcycles to fuel their passion.  They haven’t stayed in business this long by using sales gimmicks like DMU (Dealer Markup Fees), Setup Fees, and other extraneous and unethical charges.  Instead, you get treated honestly and with an earnest desire to help you get in the bike you want at the lowest price possible.

Irv Seaver BMW also hosts many events and presentations bringing experts in different motorcycling fields to instruct and inspire you directly.

When you’re in SoCal, visit Irv Seaver BMW.  You’ll be impressed with how you’re treated.
These stories are sponsored by Irv Seaver BMW.

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