Radiator smoking in the rain
October 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm #2256
For the past two days it has been raining on and off and rather than find another way to work, I chose to ride in the rain. When the rain was coming down and I came to a stoplight, I smelled a burning smell that smelled like burned rubber/plastic, and there was a visible smoke coming from the radiator on my bike. But when the rain stopped, the smell went away and the smoke did too. At first I was worried that my bike was overheating but then I noticed it only does this when the radiator was getting wet/rained on. Is it possible that the smoke and burning smell was just coming from water cooking off of the radiator? Or could it have been something more that I should be concerned with? Also, after about 10 minutes of riding the bike stopped doing it all together, even in the rain.October 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm #13916
I’m thinking that it’s the road sludge that’s getting splashed up onto the radiator, and that’s what’s burning. When the roads aren’t wet, the sludge stays stuck to the road.October 16, 2008 at 4:39 pm #13918
Could be that it wasn’t smoke that you saw, but as you guessed, water vapor.
The smell could have been coming from a burning car up the road or whatever.
I know that when I first started driving a car, I’d often worry there was something wrong with the car when I smelled burning, but it never was the car, always something outside, so I learned to ignore it. Surprising that it wasn’t the car actually, considering some of the old junks that I (of necessity) owned in my youth
‘ Only reason I can think of that something might begin to burn in the rain is if water is getting into your electrical system causing a short circuit in the wiring, however, all electrical circuits on your motorcycle should be protected by fuses.
So! Just in case, you might want to ensure that all the fuses in your fuse-box are of the correct ratings (check your manual), make sure that none have been bridged with aluminum foil or similar by some DIY “mechanic” (a real no-no) and also ensure that if you have any accessories hard-wired to the battery, that they have an appropriate in-line fuse fitted.
I had an accessory tail/brake light-bar fitted on my last bike and, for ease of installation, had used those splices which have a razor blade in them that cuts through existing wiring insulation to tap into it. Anyway, I eventually took the light-bar off and didn’t bother taping over the slight nicks in the existing wire where the razor-splices had been (the wiring was inside the “sealed” tail light housing after all). Anyway, come Winter, I kept getting fuses blowing. I took it to the dealer and they could find nothing wrong and just replaced the blown fuse (of course the wiring had dried-out by then). Then I remembered the light-bar. I disassembled the tail light housing and put some electrical tape over the nicks in the wiring and voila, no more blown fuses.October 17, 2008 at 1:32 am #13936
I’m thinking that it just might have been steam coming off the radiator. If you’re sure that the smell is coming from your bike it might be something that a mechanic needs to look atOctober 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm #13954
On the way home yesterday it didn’t rain at all, and there was no smoke or burning smell, everything ran just fine. The burning smell I’m positive was coming from my bike because it was there every time I came to a stop. But it’s only there in the rain.February 5, 2016 at 4:10 am #30034
I had this exact problem yesterday in the rain! My bike sat in the rain while I was at work and then I rode it home, and when I got home my radiator was smoking lightly and it definitely smelled like something was wrong/overheating. Today however I rode it and not a single issue or smell….wtf??April 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm #30106
Same thing happened to me today… Sons Some slight steam/smoke coming off radiator during some rain. smelled terrible… Took a fairing off and didn’t see anything obvious. Had some bad luck with my cars recently so pretty gun shy… Guess it doesn’t mean the world is ending. Deep breathe…September 30, 2016 at 2:11 pm #30420
I'm curious what make model this was on. Mine did it the other day, a 2009 Triumph Speed Triple. No symptoms in the dry.
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