Water crossings on a motorcycle? I hear you: if you wanted to cross water, you’d have booked a cruise instead – at least it’d come with a buffet and jackpot machines. Sorry folks, we don’t usually get to choose what natural terrain throws across our path.
The adv-riding world probably doesn’t need another instructional article on how to forge rivers, and I, for one, am no authority on doing it with stylish aplomb. On the contrary, I’m quite an old hand at falling into the wet stuff.
When a water crossing goes wrong, you’ve got bigger problems on hand than soggy underpants. If your motorcycle’s air intake, air filter box and exhaust vent are submerged, water can get sucked in, especially when the engine is running. Heard of “connector rods”? These motor components are often spoken of in the same sentence as “catastrophic mechanical failure”. You see, the engine is designed to compress gases like air and fuel vapour, while water is quite unsquishable – so when enough of the liquid gets into the combustion chamber, the connector rods that push the piston can get bent out of shape from the sheer pressure. Too much garage mumbo jumbo? The gist of it: water inside your engine is bad, bad news.
In most dualsport motorcycles, the air filter and breather tube are pretty high up under the seat and aren’t easy to drown. Also, you can technically ride through a river even if your exhaust is underwater, as long as you keep the throttle open!
Hold on to your panic panties – your motorcycle should be able to take a quick dip. Start to worry only if it won’t start up and you see murky engine oil in the sight glass.
Should things get nasty in deep water, learn from my misery of yesteryear and save yourself a costly engine rebuild. Here’s a quick action plan for if your bike does a Titanic. You’ll need a spark plug remover and a buddy for extra muscle – especially when it comes to hauling your soggy wheels up to drain the exhaust. Remember, if you’re pretty sure you’re about to fall, hit the kill switch!