Riding in the Rain

Top 10 Tips For Riding In The Rain

A long ride in the sunshine, mild temperatures, a tailwind, and a great coffee stop is just about the perfect ride for almost every cyclist.  Nobody is going to complain about that ride, but sometimes in our beautiful sport, there are some less than beautiful days.  That’s right, I’m talking about riding in the rain.  Weather you are in a dedicated training plan and ride rain or shine or the weather takes a quick change and you get caught out accidentally in a downpour, lets take a look at the changes you might need to make to your ride.  We then will take a look at our top three tips for cleaning your bike and having it ready to ride for the next day as well.

 

Getting Caught Accidentally

 

Maybe you have a great indoor setup and don’t want to ride in the rain or you will just wait for the next sunny day, but you certainly aren’t planning to go out in the rain.  Sometimes things don’t go according to plan and riding in the rain is no different, so when it happens what do you do? 
  1. Watch for Paint - While riding, you can’t change a whole lot, but one thing you can do is be extra cautious of the paint on the road. Paint marks on the road can become extremely slick in the wet and can cause you to crash.  If you aren’t happy about getting caught in the rain, adding a crash to the mix surely isn’t going to help, so pay extra attention to paint while making a turn as those are the places you are most likely to lose grip.
  2. Brake Early – If you are on rim brakes, make sure to give yourself plenty of extra time to hit the brakes. Rim brakes will need at least a full revolution to allow the pads to force the water off the brake track before they get a good grip on the braking surface.  This will start to slow you down but then you will still have lower traction on your tires that means you won’t stop as quickly as you are used to.  Just give yourself some extra time to not go through the next intersection.  If you are on disc brakes it won’t be as drastic, but you will absolutely want to still give yourself more distance. 
  3. Corner Well – corners on a road bike are the biggest source of traction losses in the rain, so pay extra attention here. We talked previously about braking early and this is a big reason why.  Coming through a corner, make sure you pick a speed before you begin to turn and do not brake in the turn.  This will keep the most grip on the road possible.  Another great tip here is to put your outside foot down through the turn.  If you are turning left, your right foot should be at the 6 O’Clock position with weight on that side. This will help push your center of gravity back to the middle and keep you upright. 

 

Preparing for a Ride in the Rain

 

You aren’t bothered by a little water but want to look at ways to improve your riding in the rain.  How do you prepare, how do you take care of the bike after, and other questions you might have.
  1. Lower Your Tire Pressure – As a general rule of thumb, look to lower your tire pressure by 10% if you are going to be riding in the rain. Tire pressure accuracy is really important here as hard tires bounce and slide much easier than tires with a little more give.  That extra grip is going to be key.
  2. Stay Dry – This is a bit of an oxymoron to stay dry while riding in the rain. This is to say, stay as dry as possible and warm as possible.  An extra base layer can keep you a bit warmer, a rain jacket will keep your arms and body dry which keeps you warmer as well.  Another great piece of kit is a fender/mudguard.  If you don’t normally ride with one, a product like an Ass Saver is a great temporary rain guard to keep water and mud from splashing up and drenching even the best jacket.
  3. Clear Lenses – Today is the day to swap those dark sunglasses out for clear or yellow lenses to improve visibility. Not only will they allow you to see better, they will keep your eyes safe from the dirt and spray from the road.
  4. Protect Your Gear – Most of us will ride with a phone in our pocket to call in case of emergency. This might be even more important on a day with bad weather, but doesn’t mean you should ruin your new iPhone.  You can use something like the Borsa Eco to keep your phone and essentials dry.  Even keeping them in your pocket under the rain jacket is ideal to add another layer of protection.

 

Cleaning The Bike When You Get Home

 

Riding in the rain can be a really enjoyable day out on the bike.  Just because it is wet doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared and still have a great ride exploring your local roads with even less traffic than usual.  One thing that often gets overlooked is taking care of your bike when you get back.  Having a rusty chain, washed out bottom bracket, or squeaky brakes really can ruin your next ride but sure doesn’t have to.  Here are our top tips for taking care of your bike after you choose to or get caught out in the rain.
  1. Clean Your Drivetrain – No matter what lubricant you are running you want to get the water off the chain and replaced with a good lubricant as fast as possible. Our go-to is to use a clean and dry rag to wipe down the frame, then a new one to wipe the drivetrain.  You want to get the frame pretty dry so that it doesn’t keep dripping water on the drivetrain.  Once you get that drivetrain dry, degreasing is the next step.  Wet roads often have oil and dirt that will get on the drivetrain, so you want to get those off before adding more lubricant.  We love our Gear Wipes to get more grime off your drivetrain than you could imagine.  If you are regularly riding in the wet, there is no better chain lube to reapply than our Synergetic that is the best oil based lubricant for poor weather ever tested by Zero Friction Cycling.
  2. Clean Your Frame – The frame is the heart of the bike and just like you don’t want the grime from the road in your drivetrain, give your frame a good wipe down. You can simply use a good clean microfiber towel, a gear wipe, or an old t-shirt, but you want to make sure that paint is protected.
  3. Wipe Your Tires – Nobody likes to get a flat and this is one of the most overlooked parts of cleaning a bike in our opinion. Wet roads have a tendency to bring out a lot of little rocks, glass, etc from the side of the road.  Those can get lodged in your tire and maybe didn’t give you a flat today, but might on your next ride.  Go ahead and wipe the tires down to make it easy to see if you have anything stuck in the tire.  If you do, go ahead and remove it so it doesn’t get pushed further into the rubber.  The next side benefit of wiping your tires down is that you don’t get your storage area any dirtier than it needs to be!
 
At SILCA we are fans of a good ride in the rain and there are surely plenty of other things you might want to look out for.  Leave us a comment below with your best tips and tricks for riding in the rain.  What do you do differently, what is your favorite rain kit, and what did we miss?

2 comments


  • Travis Verhoff

    @Travis, if you give your chain a good wipe down with a gear wipe, add some super secret, and you are all set!


  • Travis Bowersox

    I just tested my chain with your hot wax. Love it! However, a few days later I found myself stuck in the rain. Other than wiping down the bike/chain with a rag, will I have to relax the chain? I did apply a bit of the super secret bottled wax afterwards, but was curious your thoughts. By the way, the wax seemed to do a great job repelling dirt/road oil, but I was still curious your insight.


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