You’ve just started your bike ride and it starts pouring cats and dogs. Do you rush back home to get out of it, or keep riding? So can you ride a bike in the rain without getting hurt or sick?
Can You Ride A Bike In The Rain?
Yes, but you need to ride differently than you do when it’s nice outside and ensure you’re wearing the right clothing to stay as dry as possible. Most bikers prefer riding in good weather conditions, but as you continue riding, you’re likely to get caught in a downpour.
The great thing is both you and your bike will survive, as long as you do so some after rain maintenance on your bike. You’ll enjoy the ride more if you’re properly prepared.
Is It Safe To Bike In The Rain?
the most obvious dangers to riding in the rain are the slick surfaces, that can make it hard to control your bike, the visibility issues that can make it hard to be seen, and see branches and debris being blown around, and the colder temperatures that can make you uncomfortable.
It can be dangerous riding your bike on the city streets in nice weather, it becomes more dangerous when it’s rainy, foggy, or just riding in bad weather. Read this article if you want to know about riding a mountain bike in the city.
In addition, when it’s raining hard, the raindrops can feel like tiny needles on yours skin, when you’re riding fast. If you’ve ever been on a motorcycle in the rain, you know what I mean.
But despite those drawbacks, you can make the most of what mother nature has given you on your ride.
Here are a few tips to keep to help you stay safe and as comfortable as possible so you don’t get cold and sick while riding.
Dress for The Weather
When you’re cold and wet, it increases the chances of you getting sick. Wear a water-resistant jacket with a hood to help keep you dry. Ensure you have a water-resistant jersey or a wicking underliner made from polypropylene or wool.
Use full-fingered and water-resistant gloves to keep your fingers warm. Whether you’re riding in the rain, or shine, you’re going to sweat and it’s important to choose breathable clothing (Gore-Tex) so your inside doesn’t become soaked.
Protect your Feet
There’s nothing worse than riding around with wet cold feet. I’ve found that wool socks with a good pair of waterproof shoes help keep the feet comfortable when it’s light rain. In an extreme downpour, you’ll want to wear waterproof socks.
You’ll still have wet feet, at least your feet will be dry.
Wear Clear Glasses
In low light avoid your regular sunglasses which will cut out too much light and make it harder to see in bad weather. Opt for clear or yellow glasses, they will make a cloudy dreary day appear brighter making it easier to see obstacles.
Wear A Cycling Cap
In extreme downpours consider wearing a cycling cap under your bike helmet. The visor will help reduce the amount of water and road spray that will hit your glasses and face.
Avoid using Rain-X on your glasses as it may damage the coatings on your glasses.
Wear Reflective & Light Colored Clothing
Reflective clothing is important for cyclists because it’s a way to be seen better by motorists and pedestrians. The glare of auto headlights, wet roads, and reduced visibility makes it harder for motorists to see bicyclists.
Try To Avoid Heavily Trafficked Roads
Speaking of motorists having a difficult time seeing in the rain, you can stay safer if you avoid the heavily trafficked roads.
If you commute to and from work and have no other choice but riding in the busy city streets, then be sure to stay alert. Leave the wireless earbuds at home and use hand signals and be ready to brake quickly.
Biking in the rain is more dangerous as you have less control over your bike. It’s important to always be looking ahead and sideways and be ready to brake early.
Wet brakes don’t work as well as they do when they are dry. It’s not unusual to keep going about 400 ft with constant full brake pressure before you stop, especially, if coasting downhill.
Take the downhills slower and anticipate braking, can help prevent accidents in the wet weather. Don’t slam on your brakes, as the wet surface will cause you to slide.
If you start sliding, release the brakes until you regain control of the bike, and then gradually apply the breaks again.
Watch The Corners
Always be alert when riding your bike in the city, because around every corner, you’ll run into crosswalks, manhole covers, wet leaves, and metal surfaces which can be dangerously slippery for cyclists.
Stay alert and anticipate anything and everything around the corner, especially, when riding in the rain. Watch out for parked vehicles that open their doors in fire lanes, because they don’t want to walk in the rain.
Manholes and potholes can be hidden with standing water, that can make you have an accident very quickly.
Decrease Your Speed
You likely want to go fast to get out of the rain, especially, when it’s cold. However, in wet conditions, you’re riding on poor road conditions with limited visibility.
You won’t have a lot of time to react and expect the same ride you do every day in an hour on a good day taking twice as long to complete in the rain. The most important thing is to get to your destination safely.
Avoid Standing Water
Standing puddles can be dangerous and should be avoided, as you don’t know what’s underneath it. A puddle may look safe, but a pothole could be lurking blow that can break your spokes or smash your wheel.
When you see standing water, look over your shoulder to ensure it’s safe to move to the next lane. Only ride through puddles if you can clearly see that it’s safe.
Reduce The Tire Pressure
Gain more control of your bicycle in the rain, by lowering the tire pressure. Consider leaving your road bike at home and riding your mountain bike that has wider tired. A wide tire has more contact with the road than skinny tires, which means it has a better grip of the road and more control for you.
Use Plastic Bags
When riding in heavy and constant rain, there’s not a lot you can do to keep your feet dry, as the water runs down your legs into your socks and shoes.
A good temporary option to help keep your feet dry is to wear a plastic bag over your socks. Pull your bike tights (if you’re wearing them) over the bags, and your shoes on top of the bags.
You may also want to consider wearing neoprene overshoes which are great for rainy and winter riding.
Change Your Lubrication
If you live in a city where it rains all the time, (Louisiana, Miami, Nashville, and etc) you’ll want to use a heavier chain lube. You don’t want to apply the lube to your chain in the middle or the rain storm, instead wait until you get your bike home and make sure the chain is completely dry.
Otherwise, you’ll have a mix of oil and water, which won’t help keep your bike from rusting.
Avoid Rainbow Patches and Puddles
Road surfaces are the slickest and most dangerous at the beginning of a rainstorm. During this time, the rain causes the oil buildup in the pavement to rise to the surface, causing the surface to become dangerous for bicycles.
Avoid riding over any rainbow-edged patches, as it’s likely to be a slick oil patch that can cause you to lose control.
While bicycle fenders won’t keep you completely dry, they can improve your comfort level by keeping your legs, butt, and back relatively clean and dry.
They can also help protect your bike by keeping dirt, and road grime away from your frame and other moving parts, which will make cleaning your bike after your ride much easier.
Turn On Your Light
It can be hard to be visible on a sunny day, on a gloomy, cloudy, and foggy ride, it’s even more difficult for motorists to see in heavy rain due to the conditions. Make sure you have a good quality waterproof bike LED light on your seat post and handlebars.
LED lights are relatively inexpensive and can help save your life in night time or bad weather conditions. You’ll also want a red flashing LED light that sigs on your seat post, that makes you visible from behind.
Move To A Different City
I know this isn’t an option for everyone, but if you live in any of these major cities it’s time to consider moving.
No one loves riding in the rain, but it’s bound to happen as you continue riding. Hopefully, these tips will help you stay safe and as comfortable as possible while exercising.
Find out what type of biking clothes to wear in the rain and invest in the right gear. Pay attention to the forecast before you head out for your ride and make sure you have the right gear.