So, most people think that the weight of your vehicle, the speed of your approach, the depth of the water and the tread on your tyre are the only encompassing factors to determine your Hydroplaning speed. But there is one more factor. Tyre air pressure. Did you know you can actually measure your approximate hydroplaning speed with tyre air pressure? and that weight does not play as an important a role in hydroplaning as you believed.
So think of the following:
(The depth of the grip on your tyres) minus (the depth of water). if you end up with a negative calculation here the more probable your vehicle will hydroplane over a certain speed. (the bigger the negative number the higher the probability of 100% hydroplaning)
So in theory, if you had:
- 36 psi in your front tyre (very normal for motorcycles)
- Minimum tread depth on your front tyre (which as we all know is 1mm on a motorcycle)
- And standing water >1mm
- Then we could approximately calculate your hydroplaning speed at 62.1mph
Could this be true.
Well, the formula would work as follows (10.35 √PSI). But one important note to mention here. Motorcycle tyres are rounded in profile. Meaning they are much better at water displacement than car tyres. So it might be that for motorcycles our Hydroplaning speed could be ever so slightly increased.
The huge negative for motorcyclists is that unlike a car driver who could possibly recover from a hydroplane situation, motorcyclists will find it extremely difficult if not impossible to recover from even the lightest of hydroplaning scenarios.
So, for us on motorcycles the consequences are far more disastrous than cars.
So how to stay safe?
To start with from a machine perspective always make sure you have the correct air pressures in your tyres and that they are in good working order with excellent tread depth.
Give yourself time. Slow down. Your vision is probably already at a minimum due to the steamed-up water sprayed visor and you need to identify standing water ahead of you. The only way you will accomplish this is by giving yourself time to focus and react.
Loosen up. Relax your upper body. Every bit of you will be screaming danger and your brain’s reaction is to stiffen up. This is the worse reaction to have. Remember the smother you are with your controls the safer you are, mainly because we tend to overreact to the conditions.
Don’t ride in the grove tracks moulded into the tarmac from heavy vehicles. This is an obvious place for hydroplaning. Instead try to ride on the crest of the road. But do bear in mind that the crest of the road is usually situated right in the middle of the road, and this will present many problems in itself.
Get the correct rain gear. Why? Well, wet cold conditions are not ideal for concentration and are most likely the reason why you might find it so hard to concentrate on the job at hand. So invest in good rain gear. It might seem expensive initially but good motorcycle clothing will pay for itself many times over.