18 Cycling Tips For Riding In The Rain

Although it is not the most comfortable situation, sometimes you have to ride your bike in the rain. This could be because you use your bike to commute and it is your only mode of transportation. Or, you could get caught in bad weather while you are already out riding. If you are prepared though, riding in the rain does not have to be terrible.

These are the practical tips on how to ride, what to wear and what to avoid when cycling in the rain:

1. Preparation is key

Although the weather is unpredictable, you can still hope for sunny weather when you set out. However, there is also a chance that it will rain before you finish.

It is always a good idea to be prepared for any potentiality so that when the time comes, you will be ready and will not have to hide in a bus shelter and wish you had read our article.

A great way of always being prepared is to keep a lightweight rain jacket in your pocket. This way, you will be protected from showers, while not having to carry around a heavy jacket.

Cycling jackets that are light and can be easily packed away are the best choices when you’re looking for one. These jackets typically weigh 50 grams or less and won’t occupy much space in your pocket when not in use.

2. Get a proper waterproof jacket

The most important thing to wear when cycling in the rain is a rain jacket, as it will keep your torso and arms dry, and therefore prevent you from getting too cold. You can also get wet from your own sweat, so it is important to keep this in mind when choosing what to wear.

A high collar on a raincoat will keep rain from dripping down the back of the neck, a long tail will keep any spray from the road off the coat, and extra-long sleeves will ensure there’s no wrist gap between the coat’s cuffs and the person’s gloves.

If your rain jacket has vents that you can unzip, it will help you regulate your temperature and increase ventilation. Underarm vents are particularly helpful.

A waterproof and breathable rain jacket is essential to keeping dry in wet weather. Without breathability, sweat will build up and cause wetness.

3. Use mudguards to keep you and your bike clean

The road is wet and your tyres are flinging dirty water all over you and your bike. The spray is drenching your lower legs and entire back. Your drive train is getting coated in dirt, oil, and whatever chemicals may be on the road. Dirt and debris are entering your chain and coating your gears, causing unnecessary wear and tear.

The solution for riding in the rain and keeping yourself and your drivetrain clean is to mount mudguards to your bike. Mudguards catch the spray and direct it toward the ground so you won’t get as wet and your drivetrain will stay clean longer.

4. Choose slick tires for more grip

Aquaplaning is not a danger when cycling on wet roads because bike tires have a more rounded profile that displaces water easily.

The best road bike tires for riding on the tarmac have a slick or near-slick tread which works better in all conditions. This is because there is more rubber in contact with the tarmac which provides a better grip.

You can improve your grip on the road by reducing the pressure in your tires by 15-20psi. This will provide more rubber contact with the road, even on rough surfaces.

5. Use cycling lights

An updated guide to cycle lighting regulations | Cycling UK

The best bike lights are essential if you’re planning to ride after dark or before daybreak or even if you’re out in poor conditions during the day. Most cyclists will regularly ride after dark in autumn and winter, making bike lights an essential piece of kit, although daytime running bike lights are growing in popularity because they help you to be seen out on the road, even in bright sunlight.

When it rains and the clouds cover the sky, it gets darker than normal, which can make it harder to see for you and other drivers on the road. In addition, when it’s humid and rainy, the windows on your car can fog up, which makes it even harder to see.

The following text is about how to increase your visibility while cycling at night. You can do this by mounting lights to the front and back of your bike and setting them to flashing mode. Your front light can be attached to your handlebars, and your rear light can be attached to your seat tube, rear rack, or backpack. Another option is to use a helmet light.

If you frequently ride your bike in the rain, you might want to install a dynamo hub, which powers a light, so you don’t have to worry about charging the light or replacing batteries, however, they can be heavy in comparison to more modern LED versions of which there are many models and variations on the market to suit everyone’s budget.

6. Watch out for punctures

It is commonly believed that cyclists suffer more punctures in wet weather. This is probably because rain washes all the debris out of the gutter and into the road.

Some people think that water makes it easier for things like glass and flint to cut through tires, but there isn’t much evidence to support or disprove this idea.

You should look for tires with extra puncture protection in autumn and winter when rain is likely.

7. Install wider tyres or reduce tyre pressure to improve traction on wet roads

If you live in an area with a lot of rain, you should use tyres that are wider than you would in a dry climate.

You might want to consider using wider tyres to improve traction, especially if you’re planning on doing any off-roading. The downside is that wider tyres can make pedalling more difficult. Fat bikes have the widest tyres of any bike, which makes them great for off-road riding, but they can be difficult to control on smoother surfaces.

If you don’t ride in the rain frequently and you don’t need wider tyres, you can also improve traction by reducing the pressure a bit. Running your tyres at 5-10 psi lower than normal increases the surface area of the tyre that contacts the road. This creates more friction which improves traction considerably. The only cost of this method is a bit of efficiency.

8. Consider going tubeless

Should you get tubeless tyres? Are they your best option ...

Sometimes referred to as tubeless clinchers, tubeless road tyres are similar to the regular clincher tyres found on road bikes, with one key difference: there is no inner tube. Tubeless road tyres are becoming increasingly popular among road cyclists, especially those who own adventure bikes that can be ridden on any type of terrain. Tubeless road tyres are similar to regular clincher tyres, but they don’t have an inner tube.

Tubeless is basically a clincher tyre inflated onto a rim with no inner tube. Instead of an inner tube holding the air pressure, an airtight chamber is created with a tubeless-specific tyre, developed with a special (commonly carbon) bead, and a compatible rim.

The main advantage that tubeless tyres have in wet weather is the sealant. This means that any small punctures are healed almost instantly, which prevents air from escaping.

Some other benefits of tubeless tyres are that they can be run at lower air pressures, which increases the size of the tyre’s contact patch with the ground. This is especially beneficial on slippery roads.

When it comes to putting air in your tyres, there are three common systems used on a bike: Clincher, Tubeless or Tubular. But what’s the difference?

The two most similar systems are the Clincher (Tyre and Tube) and Tubeless system. Both of these have a rim which features rim hooks on either side of the rim for the tyre beads to sit in creating a secure seat for the tyre. To keep the air inside a clincher system, a tube has to be fitted inside the tyre which fills the tyre and rim bed. However, in a tubeless system, there is no tube used to retain air inside the tyre. Instead, an airtight tubeless specific tape is fitted on the rim bed creating an airtight seal between the tyre and rim. A specific tubeless value is pre-installed on the rim to allow for inflation/deflation.

So instead of a tube holding the air, the tyre and rim tape in a tubeless system takes care of this duty. It is important to note that a clincher tyre can be fitted to a tubeless rim, even with tubeless tape. But this is not always a two-way benefit.

Now for the Tubular. What makes a Tubular different is that in Layman’s terms, the tube, tyre and value are essentially sewn in together creating an entire unit. This means that for the tubular tyre to be fitted to the rim, no rim hooks or tyre beads are needed as it is one single, closed system. Consequently, the shape of a tubular rim bed is relatively flat, with only a slight rise in the profile on either side of the rim.

Because of the different shapes of the rim, this means that only tubular tyres can be mounted to a tubular rim. Clinchers and Tubes or Tubeless systems are not able to be fitted onto a tubular rim.

9. Avoid riding through puddles

If you ride through enough puddles, one will eventually surprise you with its depth, which could lead to disastrous consequences such as being thrown from your bike and onto the ground.

10. Check your brake pads

If you ride your bike in the rain, it can get covered in water and dirt, which will quickly damage brake pads and wheel rims if you have rim brakes, and wear out pads and rotors faster if you have disc brakes.

Disc brakes are not significantly worse in the rain, but rim brakes will have reduced power, especially if you have carbon wheels instead of aluminium. Gently touching your rim brakes while riding will also help keep them clean and make braking safer and more effective.

To use rim brakes effectively, you must clean your wheel rims and check the brake pads for any dirt. You may also want to consider getting brake pads that are designed to work well in all weather conditions.

11. Keep your vision clear while cycling in the rain

While cycling in the rain, it is important to keep a close eye on traffic. Drivers can’t see you as well as they can on a clear day, so you need to watch out for puddles and any obstacles that could have washed into the road as well as slippery spots.

  1. Wear glasses or goggles- These allow you to keep your eyes open at all times, even in the heaviest rainfall. When choosing glasses or goggles to use in the rain, look for a clear or tinted yellow pair. These make it easier to see on dark rainy days. One solution is to apply an anti-fog treatment like Optix 55 Anti-Fog Spray. This way, rain rolls off and your glasses stay clear.
  2. Wear a brimmed cap under your helmet- You could also install an extended visor to your helmet. This should block most of the rain from hitting your eyes. Particularly if your bike has a forward-leaning riding position.

12. Look out for oil patches, debris, and other slippery obstacles on the road

Keep an eye out for patches of wet road that have a rainbow oil slick – these are caused by motor oil and other automotive fluids that have built up over time.

Metal surfaces such as railroad tracks, road grates, access panels, and manhole covers become slippery when they are wet. painted and brick surfaces also become very slick.

Try your best to avoid slipping by riding around obstacles. If you must ride through an oil patch or slippery metal or painted surface, try not to brake or turn hard. Cornering carefully is key. Also, give yourself plenty of extra space for braking on these surfaces. Roads are especially slick after the first rain in a long time.

13. Wear waterproof gloves and socks to keep your hands and feet dry

Your hands and feet are the first part of your body to get cold when your core temperature begins to drop. This can make cycling with cold, wet hands and feet quite uncomfortable. Furthermore, when your hands get cold, they also lose dexterity. This makes it harder to apply the brakes and shift. You can’t as accurately control the bike. Wear water-resistant gloves and booties while cycling in the rain to keep your hands and feet warm.

14. Lube your chain

If you ride your bike in the rain, much of the lubricant that helps protect your chain will be washed off, which could cause your chain to rust and eventually seize up.

The ever-controversial subject of choice of lube can be approached by using a lubricant specifically designed for wet conditions in winter. This will ensure your bike performs well in downpours and your ride is as smooth as possible. The downside to wet lubes is that they quickly become grimy and can attract dirt.

15. Fit some mudguards

Mudguards not only help protect the people behind you from road spray, but they also help keep you drier and more comfortable. They also make your bike and gear look more presentable.

If your bike can have a set of full-length mudguards attached, it is always the best option.

If you don’t want to get road spray on your backside, you can fit a set of clip-on guards or will clip under your saddle. However, this won’t protect the following riders.

16. Wear a high-visibility jacket or vest or use a flag

While drivers don’t tend to be expecting cyclists out and about in bad weather, there are some measures you can take as a cyclist to make sure you’re visible. Wearing a brightly coloured rain jacket or vest, or even attaching a flag to your bike in addition to making sure your lights are all working, can help you avoid any dangerous situations.

17. Dress in layers

While cycling in the rain, you need to dress in a way that prevents you from getting cold and wet. Your clothing also needs to allow ventilation so your sweat can evaporate. If your clothes don’t breathe, the sweat will make you just as wet as the rain.

The best solution is to dress in layers. A good rainy weather cycling layering system includes:

  1. Base layer– You wear this layer directly against your skin. Merino wool works perfectly because it provides insulation even when it gets wet. Even if you get soaked to the bone, you can still stay somewhat warm.
  2. Mid-layer- This layer provides additional insulation. You’ll remove this layer when you get too hot. A fleece or wool jacket works well.
  3. Rain shell- This is your waterproof jacket. Some rain jackets are insulated and some are just waterproof shells. Make sure you choose one with good ventilation. Zippers under the armpits are a great feature to help sweat vent.

18. Stay hydrated

Although it may be easy to forget to drink water when it rains, it is still important to ensure you are consuming enough. Since it is harder to tell how much you are sweating when you are already wet, you may not realize how much water you are losing. Drinking cold water may not be appealing on a cold, rainy day, but it is still essential to stay hydrated.

Ready to hit the road?

Rainy days can be a great time to go for a bike ride. The trails and bike paths are usually empty, so you won’t have to worry about dodging other cyclists. The air is usually fresh and clean after a rain, and the rain itself can create a uniquely beautiful atmosphere to cycle in.

To stay comfortable while riding your bike, you should dress properly and take some additional safety precautions. Riding often in wet weather can cause more frequent bike maintenance.

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