We have just had a bit of rain here recently in Sydney; I thought it would be good to share thoughts and my top tips for cycling in the rain and getting your bike ready for winter.
It reminded me of my many 5:30 am cold, wet cycling mornings with the old cycling crew in Adelaide. I was taking off in the cold to conquer Norton Summit, with low light, wet roads, and sometimes fog.
I always enjoyed riding in those times for several reasons, which always ended up with a visit to the coffee shop and sharing time with mates doing the same thing.
Here are my tips on safe riding in wet on those rainy days and enjoying it.
Is it OK to cycle in the rain?
good idea? Yes, it is, and it can be enjoyable.
Riding in the rain powering through the rough wet conditions, is an energiser in life. Of course, you will get wet; however, it can be exhilarating at the same time; at the very least, it is a character-building experience.
Does cycling in the rain damage your bike?
No, but you want to make sure your bike is well maintained. So keep it washed, brakes are working, check lube on your chain, and there is no build-up of grease and grit on the drive train.
The reason for having this is that extra grit and grease when riding in the rain can be a safety issue and cause damage. Riding in the wet means that water splashing around combined with bike grit can more easily latch onto/ into things like your bottom bracket or damage your cassette.
Having a well maintained and serviced bike will eliminate any excuses for riding when it is raining. Doing this will keep you safe, and you can have fun at the same time.
If you cant be bothered doing it yourself you can always have a look at your local bicycle shop or you can have a look at the options available here How much does a bike service cost in Sydney? 3 options to choose from (bradsbikes.com.au)
Which bike is best in the rainy season?
Any bike is fine for riding in the rain; it is just a matter of personal preference. The only thing you may want to consider is using gravel or commuter bikes instead of a slick racer.
Riding in wet conditions, you have to make sure your tires have good grip and are suitable traction for your ride in the rain and check your check to make sure your brake pads are sufficient.
What do cyclists wear when it rains?
Be gear ready for your ride in the rain —stock up on a light rain jacket, waterproof socks, and a cycling cap. Of course, you can try and wear all your water-resistant gear to try and stay dry, but in reality, you will still get wet.
This article will give my top 12 tips for riding in the rain, including what gear to wear. Before we get to this, I want to provide you with some motivation and reasons why you should.
Reasons why you should ride in the rain
Yeah, you could stay home in the dry, warm and comfort of home, but comfort never makes for a better rider.
Riding in the rain will make you a more aware and better all-around cyclist! The more you ride in wet, slippery conditions, the more confidence you’ll have no matter what the conditions.
Over time you’ll build better bike-handling skills, develop more confidence and return home with an increased sense of accomplishment & achievement.
Better bike handling
Biking in the rain is more challenging than riding in dry conditions. It is slippery when wet, which will build your bike handling skills. There are some other things to keep in mind to help you stay safe.
The road itself is slipperier from the oil and run-off debris that makes its way onto the surface from the rain. Keep a lookout for low hanging or fallen trees and branches. Avoid (or as much as you can) riding on painted surfaces and metal road features (grills, grates and tracks), as these tend to be slipperier.
Adjust your riding speed and braking time. It takes longer to stop, traction is lower, and puddles are everywhere, making it easier to slide out. Many things could go wrong in these conditions if your speed is fast and you need to brake quickly, especially on wet descents.
When turning corners, keep in mind that tyres lose grip more quickly, so you need to keep your body more upright through corners.
Slowly and carefully, you can approach these scenarios and learn to navigate them safely—straight line, no sudden moves, dismounting where it is risky. Adjust to the conditions, and you will be able to navigate your way in wet weather conditions better.
You’ll be more consistent
Something that I failed on a few times; working late and giving in to the comfort of dry and warm in bed. You lose out more than you gain. Miss out on the friendship after a ride with your cycling crew and motivate them when it is hard for them to make the wet weather ride.
When you start riding in the rain, you know nothing will stop you from rain, hail, or shine. But, being consistent and disciplined to go for your rides no matter what make you a better person, and no matter what life throws at you, you can handle it.
It’s not about being a hero; it’s about being disciplined, building your riding skills, and enjoying the feeling of exercise and being in the outdoors. Family and friends will think you are crazy, but you’ll know that deep inside, they wish they had just a bit of your motivation and momentum in life. Show them the way 🙂
No matter what the weather forecast is, you’re ready to go, no matter what. The skills and experience gained will give you a positive mindset, both on and off the bike.
You’re ready for whatever if you can ride through a downpour with your body and mind intact.
Keep your bike fit momentum
There’s something about not only creating a routine, but it’s another thing about actually maintaining it. It is mind over matter. When you think you are going to bail out on a ride, with the excuse of the rain, it is good to stop and think why.
Your bike is well maintained; you have or want the bike confidence, so what is the benefit of breaking the routine. Once broken, it will be harder to start than go for that ride.
Excuse for a “wet weather” bike
This excuse is one I have used with the head of finance (my wife) in my household. You have done the hard yards in building your bike fit momentum in the dry conditions.
Telling yourself or your partner that it’s time to buy a “wet weather” bike is a good business case for it to be approved.
Beware though. As I found out, you should give the “wet weather” bike reason pre-purchase. It does not go down as well post the new bike purchase.
You’ll feel like a kid again
Freedom and independence. It’s the first right of passage and sense you get when on a bike as a kid. It gave you the ability to search and go anywhere and do anything. Riding in the rain is no different.
When growing up, my BMX bike was my ticket to freedom. I went everywhere on my bike; many different adventures, rain or wet roads never stopped me. Everyone has this feeling and motivation as a kid but tend to forget it as adults.
Riding in the rain gives you that same feeling and motivation. It will provide you with that same exhilarating freedom and independence as a kid. Some things are worth hanging on to, and recapturing those gems from your childhood is one.
The internal search
People tend to stay inside when it’s raining. That wet weather means you have the road, path, or trail to yourself. You’ll notice the little things. Cool side streets, street art, nature and beauty where you may have previously just passed it by. You’ll wonder why you don’t ride in the rain more often.
Greater appreciation for comfort
After cycling in the rain, you hit the shower and get changed into dry clothes; you will appreciate the comfort so much more.
Top 12 tips for cycling in the rain
Now you have no excuses for not riding in the rain, here are some tips for making it safer and more enjoyable.
1. Invest in a good waterproof jacket
Clothes preparation is essential for riding in wet weather. Be ready with riding gear such as a good quality waterproof jacket. You want it to be light enough to regulate your body temperature and rainproof sufficient to keep your torso dry.
GoreTex is the best material as it is waterproof and breathable. You will find that anything too heavy will not provide ventilation. Even though it is cold and wet, your body temperature will rise, and you want to regulate this as much as you can.
2. Get yourself some mudguards
Mudguards help when cycling in the rain. They may not look the best, but they keep the dirty spray water from the road off your feet, lower legs and back.
Even if you wait out the rain, the road will still be wet. Mudguards are handy to keep the dirty water from splashing up onto you. A flap added to the front guard will give you extra protection.
3. Overshoes and gloves
Your hands and feet are the most exposed in the elements. So when your hands and feet get wet, you will feel disproportionally uncomfortable in the colder weather.
Water-resistant overshoes are worth the investment. They provide a barrier from the wet road helping to keep your feet dry.
Cycling gloves are a little trickier to find the right ones. They need to be enough to protect from the wet and cold, without being too thick where they will limit your movement through the gears and feel the brakes. However, many brands produce neoprene gloves that keep the rain out while maintaining movement.
4. Clean your bike
Wet rides in the rain will take their toll on your bike’s chain. The extra grit stuck on your chain will speed chain stretch and damage your cassette.
After a ride in the rain and tackling the wet roads, after you are clean and dry, the very next thing you should do is clean your chain at the very minimum.
There are bike-specific washers (like Muc Off and a host of others), post ride you can wash your bike then vigorously wipe it down with a rag until it’s dry. A few drops of oil/lube will then protect it for the next ride. Do this, and it can double the chain’s lifespan.
It’s good to wash/oil the other metallic moving parts, too; front and rear gear mechanisms and brake callipers. Try to keep the degreaser away from the hubs, bottom bracket, wheel rims and brake blocks. Ideally, your whole bike would get washed down after a wet ride, but we know that’s not very realistic.
5. Wear a cycling cap
Air vents in helmets are good in the heat, not in the rain. A cheap cycling cap worn under your helmet is a barrier for your head, with the peak giving extra protection for your eyes against the spray.
Although they don’t have peaks, other options include a skull cap (although they don’t have peaks) or an aero helmet, as many have plastic covers or fewer vents to keep your head warm and dry.
6. Be seen and listen
Motorists and pedestrians have lower visibility in the rain. Wear a bright, hi-viz rain jacket and while you should always be listening, be extra vigilant, and keep an ear out for cars braking suddenly or pedestrians not watching where they are going under their umbrellas or have their heads in mobile phone world.
7. Avoid standing water
Steer clear of standing water. Riding over or stopping on standing water not only gets you wet, but it can also be perilous as you never know what debris or holes are beneath. It might just look like a small puddle, but you could end up being a could be a wheel smashing pothole.
Check over your shoulder when you see standing water before moving safely out to ‘ride the lane’ (most standing water will gather near the kerb). Only ride through standing water if you can see what’s underneath.
8. Check your tyres and reduce the pressure
Rainwater washes all sorts of muck onto the road, and when your tyres are wet, they pick up more of it than usual.
After each ride, take a quick look over your tyres, checking for cuts, metal, glass and other debris.
For the winter season, you may want to try a heavier tyre with a thick tread in the winter at a slightly lower pressure.
For all tyre types, it is good practice to have your tyre at a slightly lower pressure, by 5 to 10 psi, for wet weather riding. It increases your surface area and grips on the road better.
Grit, grime and water will reduce your braking efficiency. Ride to the conditions, brake earlier than usual and take it easy, especially turning into corners. Check your rims and pads before and after the ride, as they’ll have more wear in wet weather conditions.
Wet weather means grit and grime. After a wet weather season ride, book it into your local bike mechanic for a service.
10. Plastic bags
Plastic bags are handy for heavy rain in keeping your socks & shoes dry. However, even with overshoes, your feet will get wet with constant rain.
An easy option is to use a plastic bag over your socks. If you want something a little more sophisticated, you can purchase the latest and greatest socks that protect your feet.
11. Use lights
Invest in good quality LED lights to provide extra visibility when out on the road.
Motorists have lower visibility, so increasing your visibility is essential.
Many good quality lights can be easily attached to your bike for both the front and rear of the bike. If riding at night, lights that meet legal requirements are needed anyway. Flashing LEDs provide extra visibility in poor weather conditions.
12. Watch for white Lines, potholes & debris
Road markings are slippery and, when it rains, are even more so. In addition, there are things like white lines on the road, pedestrian crossings, and speed markings. Avoid them if you can; otherwise, take care when going over them.
Heavy, prolonged rain can change road surfaces. Even if you ride on certain roads daily, keep an eye out for potholes or pools of water. They can deteriorate quickly, and debris can get stuck in them.
Cycling in rain means more tube-piercing debris stuck on wet roads. So take an extra tube, just in case.