The first half of my trip down to Georgia was fantastic. It was cool enough that I wasn’t hot in my Rev’It Cayenne Pro jacket, but not so cold my hands were freezing. It was overcast enough that I didn’t have to squint behind my Native sunglasses, but not so overcast that I had to worry about rain.
That is, until I got to Fayetteville, North Carolina. Then the sky opened up. It didn’t stop until I reached Savannah, some 280 miles later.
What followed was a near total failure of every piece of waterproof motorcycling gear that I owned. Am I being too harsh?
The short story: it rained so much that I passed two overturned cars, one truck on its side, one truck on its nose in a clutch of trees with a trunk speared through its center, and one minivan deep off into the road, with a fat man wading in waist-deep water back to the side of the road.
Raider performed flawlessly. I stuck to parts of the highway that did not have standing water. I felt the front wheel glide a little bit through a particularly wet patch; aside from that I was not nervous at all. I think my equally wet experience coming back from New York years ago and other rain-riding prepared me for Friday. I stayed calm and relaxed the entire ride, and I think that made a big difference in how the bike handled. I even had to ford two flooded streets in downtown Savannah. A poor bastard on a 49cc scooter hydrolocked his ride and was stranded shin-deep in water.
Here’s how my gear performed:
Sidi OnRoad waterproof boots: Total failure. The insides are drenched, and my SmartWool socks were completely soaked. I am glad I wasn’t wearing cotton socks, otherwise my feet would have been in major trouble. I doubt they will be dry by the time I leave.
Rev’It Fahrenheit waterproof gloves: Total failure. I wrung my silk glove liners out when I arrived; they were sopping wet. Keep in mind the gloves were partially sheltered the handguards on my bike. Like my boots, my hands stayed dry due to the insulation material in the gloves. Also like my boots, I do not expect them to be dry by Monday. Good thing I brought my Teknic Speedstars as backups in case it got hot.
Frogg Togg Highway Elite rain gear: Partial failure, but I think it was my fault. Water got in somehow around the neck area, despite the neck being tight. I should have put the hood up into my helmet. Seams seemed to hold tight. So much water penetrated from the boots and my jacket hem I am not sure if they remained watertight and water was absorbed by the rest of my gear, or if the seams failed. Water may have also been blown up the waist, past both jackets.
Rev’It Cayenne Pro textile jacket: Partial failure. The outer shell was completely wet, even under the Frogg Togg gear. Rain made its way down through the Frogg Togg jacket, past a fleece neck gaiter, through the textile part of the Cayenne Pro, and defeated the waterproof liner underneath.
Motoport Ultra Air II mesh kevlar pants: Total failure. Water penetrated the liner at the cuff of each leg and at the waist.
So, despite about $1200 in waterproof protective gear, I arrived soaking wet. Was I expecting too much? According to the weather service, it rained at a rate of almost one inch per hour at the eight of my ride. It rained over three inches over the course of the day in Savannah. At one point I looked down at Raider’s front fender; there was water spraying all over it and across the engine.
No doubt, I rode through some rough shit. When cruising through lighter rain, all of the gear I listed does a good job at keeping me dry. However, when the shit really hits the fan, can anything be considered truly “waterproof?” I rode in the pouring rain for several hours in conditions that left cars and trucks overturned at the side of the road.
What should I really expect?
The only thing I am disappointed in are my boots. I wonder if water blew up both pair of waterproof pants and down into the boot. Otherwise, the boots were oversatured by water and/or had a weak point on both pair. Either way, the real drag is how long my boots stay wet inside.