Does Cycling In The Rain Damage Your Bike? (Quick Cleaning)

If you start riding on a regular basis, you’re bound to get caught in the rain. The kid in you will come out as you ride through puddles, and just have a blast. It’s a blast on all levels until you get home and have to clean it up before your bike becomes rusty or damaged.

Does Cycling In The Rain Damage Your Bike

The mud and rain can damage your brakes, chain, drivetrain, and other parts of your bike if not properly maintained and cleaned after a ride in the rain.

Before you store your bike in the garage, you’ll want to clean your bike properly after a wet ride so it can continue working like new. These rainy day bike maintenance tips will help you save money in the long run.

Here are the steps to care for your bike and your clothing.

What you’ll need:

  • Chain oil
  • Towel or baby wipes
  • Chain lube
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Towels and or leaf blower

#1 Clean Your Bike

Before heading into the shower to wash, you need to take care of your bike. Leaving you a muddy bike will cause it to cake on and make it harder to clean later.

Get the mud off the frame, chain, tires, and derailleur before it hardens. You can do a more thorough bike wash later, read this post to learn how to wash your mountain bike.

Regardless of whether you’ve been riding on the road, pavement, or city streets, it’s likely got grime on it from riding through the puddles, and oil, and other debris on city streets.

If you’ve taken your mountain bike off roads, then it’ll likely have a lot of mud. Try bouncing the bike up and down to help loosen up big clumps of mud.

While everything is wet, spray it down with a water hose. Depending on how dirty the bike is, you may need to use a soapy sponge to get to those hard to reach spots.

Avoid using the power washer as it can bend the spokes, bearings, and other weaker parts of the bike.

#2 Clean The Brakes And Wheels

Remove all the dirt from inside the brake pads and calipers. Mud and grime has a tendency to accumulate in the braking surface of the wheels, so make sure you clean that up really well.

Don’t forget to clean the tires, spokes and hubs. I’ve personally found it easier to remove the wheels from the bike, depending on how dirty it is.

If soap doesn’t remove all the mud, try using a little rubbing alcohol that makes cleaning the rotors easier.

#3 Dry The Bike

Never store your bike while it’s wet, as it can cause it to become rusted. Use a towel to wipe down every component on the bike. I personally have several old towels that I use specifically for my bike, in case they get oil on them.

If you’re feeling a little lazy and just want to get out of those wet clothes, use your leaf blower to dry the bike. It’ll be a lot faster than towel drying. Just make sure you hand dry any steel parts on your bike, as those parts will rust quickly.

Bicycle frames are mostly made with aluminum, which are known for being corrosion resistant. But, the exposed steel parts can rust quickly and once it starts it can be tough to stop.

#4 Applying Lubrication

Once your bike has been cleaned and dried, you’ll want to lubricate the drivetrain, chain, and other points on that have cables that enter or exit the frame.

As long as you keep your bike properly lubricated, this process should only take about 15-20 minutes to complete.

#5 Get Out Of Those Wet Clothes

After your bike has been tended to, it’s time to get out of those wet shorts. Between the rain, sweat, mud, and chamois cram, you’ve created the perfect environment for bacteria growth inside your shorts.

Removing those tight wet biking shorts is one of the best ways to prevent saddle sores, and or yeast infections. I’ve been caught in the rain a few times, now I always carry an extra pair of shorts that I can change into on my drive home.

#6 Hose Your Clothes Off Before Putting Them In The Washer

There’s a good chance your clothing has as much or more mud on them than your bike, especially, if you found yourself hitting every mud hole on the ride. Dirt is abrasive and can damage your washer machine, which can be expensive to fix or replace.

Instead, hose them down with the water hose as you did with the bike. You may even need a bucket with warm soapy water to pre-wash them before taking them inside.

Go ahead and throw your gloves, shirt, socks, and anything else you wore on your ride in the washer. You don’t need to use any special laundry detergent, what you use for your regular laundry will work fine.

#7 Clean Your Shoes and Helmet

Spray down your shoes and helmet with the hose. Don’t forget to spray the soles as they’ll likely have a lot of mud on them, especially, if you rode the trails. Most people make the mistake of leaving their muddy shoes in the garage, only to find that it’s harder to clean when the mud dries.

Once they are cleaned, find a warm place such as next to a heating vent, or radiator to put them next to. Hopefully, you have more than one pair of biking shoes to use for the next day, as they likely need a day or two to dry completely.

As for your helmet, you’ll want run water through it to clean the pads on the inside. Remove any mud from the visor, and straps as well. Put it somewhere in the house where it can dry out before using it again.

While it’s okay to use a wet helmet, it can be kind of unpleasant wearing a helmet with wet or soggy straps.

What Can Rain Do To A Bike?

If not properly cleaned the wet weather can deteriorate the functionality of your bike. Bikes are expensive enough and you don’t want to find out that it’s starting to rust because you didn’t proper care of it after riding in the rain.

This is the main reason you should never store your bike outside in the elements, unless you have a cover.

Final Word

Bikes aren’t completely waterproof, but with the proper after rain maintenance, you shouldn’t worry about damaging your bike in the rain. If you hate the cleanup as much as I do, make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast before you head out for your next bike ride.

Mother nature has a mind of her own, so if you get caught in the rain, you know how to properly care for your bike.