The Ultimate Guide to Biking in the Rain: Top 10 Tips for Cycling Safely
Unless you are a bit of a daredevil, you wouldn’t like riding in the rain. Most riders don’t enjoy cycling in the rain. So, they come out with their bikes when it is sunny outside, avoiding bad weather like a plague.
What to do when you are caught in a sudden downpour on a rainy day? Whether you get stuck in sudden showers often or simply enjoy a bike ride in the rain, we have your mud-splattered back.
Tips For Biking In The Rain
This ultimate guide will help you tackle tricky roads, eliminating your fear of biking in the rain. Use these top tips to cycle safely, even when it’s pouring outside!
1. Prepare Your Bike
The first step to safe riding in the rain is preparation. You must prepare yourself, and even more importantly, prepare your bike for a heavy rain downpour.
Whether you mountain bike or simply ride on the road, your bike needs to be prepared to make it through the rain safely. Here are a few things you should add to your bike before heading out in the rain.
Waterproof Saddle Cover
When riding a bike in rain, you can’t really stop it from getting wet. The only thing you can attempt to keep dry is the saddle. Saddles, especially the leather ones, tend to sag prematurely if you keep them wet for a long time.
Consider getting a saddle cover that fits perfectly and is waterproof. This will ensure that your saddle doesn’t get soaked during a drizzle. Some cyclists just use plastic bags if the rainy weather is not going to last long.
People often add bike lights to their bikes for better navigation at night. They forget that during wet weather, the rain and the cloudy sky can make it difficult for others to spot your bike. Most cycling accidents in the rain happen due to poor visibility. Add some bike lights to make your bike as visible in bad weather as possible.
Your bike's chain is vital to how your bike performs. To keep it in good condition, it is better to keep it dry. However, when you ride in the rain, keeping it dry is impossible. This is why you must use the appropriate lube for your chain.
To keep your bike chain in good condition, use a wet lube. Wet lubricant is specifically designed to tackle the challenges of wet weather conditions. Since it's thick, it doesn't get easily washed away and keeps the water away from the chain.
Fenders are metal or plastic covers for your front and rear bike tires. They prevent the tires from splashing muddy water and dirt onto you, your bike, and passersby.
Having fenders will help you stay cleaner and drier, reducing your chances of getting splashes. If you see that the weather is bad, attach the fenders on your bike before you leave the house. These mudguards will protect your body from getting soaked on a rainy ride. Especially when you’re hitting puddles.
However, sometimes the weather can be really unpredictable. Attaching regular fenders takes time and carrying them around isn’t feasible either.
In that case, it is always safe to carry clip-on mudguards for wet rides. You can attach this fender to your saddle. It gives you some protection from getting splashed in wet conditions.
Bike Saddle Bags
Using bike saddle bagskeeps your personal possessions dry when biking in the rain. These bags can strap onto your handlebars, the tube of your bike, or under your seat.
2. Which Cycling Rain Jacket to Choose?
Staying dry and warm is one of the biggest challenges of riding a bike in the rain. Consider layering up with a waterproof jacket before you head out for a ride in wet weather.
While wearing a base layer that keeps you warm is crucial, you need to be careful while choosing clothes. It will really depend on the weather as well.
While you cycle, you will sweat. If the clothes prevent the sweat vapors from escaping, you will be uncomfortably wet underneath your rainwear. Even if your rain gear keeps the raindrops out, you will be soaking from the inside. You need a cycling rain jacket with good breathability.
There are two types of jackets out there in the market. One is the waterproof hard shells. These are great for keeping rain out, which makes them equally bad at letting sweat out. They are ideal for long rides, where you won’t be using a lot of power to cycle.
The soft shells are lighter and water-resistant. These cycling rain jackets have better breathability, so your sweat dries off quickly. They are great for short but hard rides, where you get heated up and need to let out the sweat. You can pair a cycling rain jacket with rain pants to keep everything dry.
3. Wear a Cycling Cap
While your helmet is great at protecting your head from injuries, it won’t do much to keep it dry. So, how can you bike in the rain without getting your head wet? Try wearing a cycling cap underneath your helmet!
Cycling caps are gear that can make a priceless difference when bike riding in the rain. These are great at avoiding a direct hit from both rain and the wind that often accompanies it. Even a cotton cycling cap can provide some much-needed insulation to your head.
Another reason why you might want to wear a peaked cycling cap under your helmet is the peak itself. This can help prevent some of the raindrops, dirt, and mud from getting sprayed right into your eyes. And, if you wear glasses, it can keep water from dripping onto them.
4. Invest in Cycling Overshoes
Your feet suffer the most when riding a bike in rain, as they are the closest when you cycle. People often recommend using waterproof shoes and socks.
Waterproof socks may keep your feet warm, but they won’t do anything to save your expensive cycling shoes .
When cycling in the rain, your cycling shoes can get really dirty, especially if they are white!
This is what makes cycling overshoes a precious piece of gear. These sock-like shoe covers will not only keep your feet warm but will give good coverage to your shoes.
No matter how waterproof your shoes might be, you will have a hard time getting the grime off your shoes. After the ride, you can throw the shoe covers in the washing machine and they will come out squeaky clean. If you buy reflective overshoes, they will make you more visible when riding in the rain!
5. Glove Up With Biking Gloves
Keeping your hands warm when riding in the rain seems next to impossible. When the temperature falls, your hands will freeze if they are wet.
One easy solution seems to be using waterproof gloves. However, no matter how waterproof your biking gloves are, they still won’t work well.
A great alternative to using waterproof gloves is biking gloves made of a specific material called neoprene. Neoprene is the foamed material that is used to make wetsuits.
These trap a layer of water right above your skin where it heats up and insulates your hands. They will also work great in cold weather by trapping the heat your hands give off and using it to keep your hands warm.
6. Prevent Chafing
Chafing is one of the curses of being a cyclist, but it can be wholly eliminated by taking precautions. It is particularly difficult to avoid while riding in the rain. This is because wet skin is more sensitive than dry skin and can easily chafe.
Consider applying chafing solution or chamois cream on your sensitive areas before you go out for a bike ride in the rain. Some people use petroleum jelly as an anti-chafe cream, which can also work. However, chamois cream is often anti-bacterial and simply better at preventing chafing.
Opt for a product that has natural moisturizing ingredients like cocoa butter or shea butter. Some also have anti-inflammatory ingredients like aloe vera or witch hazel. These have a cooling effect, which you will like if you are already chafed.
7. Lower Tire Pressure
The biggest danger of riding a bike in the rain is the wheel slipping on the wet ground. This is because most tires lose grip on slippery ground.
You will face this problem often with road bikes , as smooth roads become more slippery during the rain. Mountain bikes have a wider tire, which gives them more grip.
One way to deal with this is by releasing some tire pressure. This puts more tires in contact with the ground, giving you a better grip. With increased traction, you will have better control of your bike and feel more confident while riding it on the wet road.
How much tire pressure you release depends on your weight and the size of your tire. The more you weigh, the more pressure you might have to release from your tire. Just make sure you have a bike pump to increase the tire pressure later.
8. Being Careful on the Road
Is it safe to bike in the rain? Absolutely, as long as you know what to look out for. If you want to ride your bike confidently in the rain, you have to practice caution.
The first thing to look out for is puddles. They are always bad news. Your bike is very likely to slip on them, and there is a high chance that there might be a pothole underneath.
Also, avoid pavement marking as some paints can make that area highly slippery. White markings are common on the bike lanes. So, make sure to avoid the lines when using the lanes for bike commuting.
Riding over manholes or any other road bumps can be quite dangerous too. Keep your eyes on the road and avoid areas that have the rainbow effect from oil spills.
It is always wise to brake before hitting corners when on a bike. But, when you are riding in the rain you should break a bit ahead of making a corner. This reduces the chances of your bike slipping and crashing.
Try to avoid intersections and traffic circles if possible, as crossing them can be dangerous in the rain. Wear reflective clothes and gears to increase your visibility.
9. Heat Up!
How to bike in the rain when it's freezing cold? Beating the chills is one of the biggest challenges of riding in the rain.
One way you can become warmer is actually by putting in more effort. The harder you ride, the more body heat you would produce, and hence, warmer you will be!
Seems like a no-brainer, but many are afraid to ride hard in the rain. Remember that as long as you stay prepared, you can put in more power without fear.
10. Bike Maintenance After Riding
Once out of the rain, you should immediately clean your bike. Use a garden hose and simply wash off the mud. But don’t use the power washer as it can damage your bike. Do not let the mud and grime dry on the bike as it will only increase the time and effort you will need to clean it.
You can use warm soapy water and a sponge to clean off your bike. Do make sure you dry it off properly. Especially the saddle, handlebars, drivetrain, derailleur, rim brakes, brake pads, and disc brakes.
Use a degreaser to clean the chain off the lube for a deeper clean. Use a rag to rub off the old lube from the chain. Be thorough when cleaning off the degreaser, as it can damage any future lube you apply to your chain. After a few rides in the rain, consider taking your bike to a bike shop for a tune-up.
Final Thoughts On Biking In The Rain
Can you bike in the rain? Of course, you can, as long as you are cautious and prepared. Prepare your cycle with the right gear before you head out for biking in the rain. Layer up, but make sure that your clothing lets the sweat out when you ride hard in the rain.
Remember to lower your tire pressure to get more grip on the road. Stay visible and always keep an eye out for puddles, lines, and potholes. And, always remember to wash your bike once out of the rain!
Enjoy biking in the rain to the fullest!