Cycling to Work in the Rain [Ultimate Tips for Commuters]

Imagine: Your pre-work morning routine is going swimmingly. 

You hopped out of bed to your first alarm, and you’re enthused and fired up from your morning coffee. You’re dolled up in your favourite workwear – keys, phone, and cash are all accounted for… you hop on your bike, and you’re off.

Only to get caught in the most appalling, ‘drenched to the bone’ type downpour imaginable. 

Or perhaps you anticipated said downpour before leaving the house, only to think “you know what? I’ll be fine” (you weren’t fine, because as it turns out, inadequate clothing in a rain storm is a huge no no).

If you’ve ever found yourself in either of these situations (or you want to avoid them) – we’ve got you covered. Stick with us to discover our complete list of ultimate tips for commuters.

Is Cycling to Work in the Rain Dangerous?

It can definitely be more dangerous than cycling in dry weather.  You should always take a rainy ride seriously. Roads and pavements will be slippery, there’s poor visibility, and you’ll be dodging puddles left, right, and centre. 

However, with the right clothing, accessories, knowledge and equipment, you can keep yourself safe and dry, and hop on your bike ready to face the day. In fact, our study found that 98.1% of commuters are happy to ride in the rain – so it can’t be that bad!

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How to Stay Dry Cycling in the Rain [4 Tips]

Luckily, there’s a few ways you can keep yourself dry on your journey.

 

Invest in Waterproof Clothing

Jackets are one of the most important pieces of waterproof clothing you can own. The right jacket will not only keep you dry, it can also help regulate your body temperature, too. 

A stunningly stylish jacket that is water and wind resistant, has a foldaway hood and can be packed down into it's built-in pocket so you can throw it in a bag.

Keep your eyes out for a breathable material that will prevent you getting hot and sweaty – and make sure your jacket has cuffs!

You could also invest in waterproof overtrousers, hats, gloves, socks, and more – these will be available at most reputable cycling stores. 

Berghaus Men's Deluge Waterproof Overtrousers - Black - X-Large
  • Waterproof guarantee - fully breathable and waterproof Hydroshell fabric keeps you dry when the weather turns
  • No more waiting for the rain to pass - elasticated waist with draw cord adjustment and articulated legs for ease-of-movement let you comfortably keep on moving for longer
  • Work hard, stay cool - three-quarter side zips give great ventilation and allow quick changes

If you want to make your existing clothing waterproof, you could invest in a waterproof, fabric protecting spray. These sprays will make your clothing water repellent, provide breathability, and prolong the life of your gear. 

The best bit? Most sprays are incredibly affordable – even for the tightest of budgets. 

GUIDE: Where to Buy Urban Cycling Clothes

Protect your Head 

To keep your head and face dry, you’ll need a level of protection that most cycling helmets just don’t offer. 

You can wear a cycling cap under your helmet to provide a barrier from the rain. Most cycling caps also come with ‘peaks’ at the front to protect your face against spray. 

If you’re not keen on cycling caps, you could also consider aero helmets or skull caps. 

BTR High Visibility Universal Size Bike/Bicycle Waterproof Helmet Cover - One Size Fits All
  • BTR 2-in-1 Easy-Fit Helmet Cover is a 100% waterproof, high visibility & reflective helmet cover that keeps your head dry whilst keeping you visible and safe in all light conditions
  • Securely attach the cover to your helmet with our easy fit pull cord. Allows you to control the tension & gather needed to fit your helmet. It won’t budge or slip! Don’t fiddle with tricky fixed...
  • Choose from a selection of colours including high visibility yellow, pink, red, orange, blue or contrast with the bright reflective stripes with a black one. Want to go for full reflection then choose...
SealSkinz Waterproof Hat, Black/Grey, One Size
  • KEY FEATURES – 100% waterproof, breathable and windproof. Inner and outer layers are made from 100% polyester
  • TECHNOLOGY – Using a unique three layer construction with the middle layer being a laminated waterproof membrane, our waterproof hats can withstand any amount of rain or snow while also keeping you...
  • ALL WEATHER – Crafted with minimal insulation to give maximum breathability. Suitable for both warm and wet conditionsathability. Suitable for both warm and wet conditions

Use Mudguards

Mudguards may not be the most attractive of devices, but they work wonders. 

Mudguards keep water, grime, and other debris out of the bike’s components whilst preventing the spray from your tires getting your feet and legs soaked. 

Paired with some waterproof overtrousers, socks and shoes, you can take on anything the weather throws at you – literally. 

GUIDE: Best Mudguards for Bike Commuters

Sale
ASS SAVERS Regular Saddle Mounted Mudguards (Pair) - Black
17 Reviews
ASS SAVERS Regular Saddle Mounted Mudguards (Pair) - Black
  • Keeps your butt dry on wet roads
  • New patented FLIP-TIP attachment system
  • Easy to mount, requires no tools

Avoid Standing Water

This one really cannot be stressed enough. 

Not only is standing water pretty much guaranteed to get you soaked, but it can also be dangerous. Avoid cycling directly through it unless you can see what’s underneath and anticipate how deep it is.

If you do have to go directly through it, approach it slowly and make sure you’re kitted out in your waterproof gear (and mudguards!).

Cycling in the Rain: General Tips

Now we’ve covered some of the best ways to keep yourself snug and dry, let’s take a look at some general tips for cycling in the rain.

Bicycle Tyre Pressures for Rain

The right pressure will make your bike move smoothly. It’ll also be compliant enough to maintain your form and tackle bumps with ease. 

To improve your grip on the road, run your tyres at a slightly lower pressure (around 80-90psi should do the trick). This will also increase your surface area and make your ride more comfortable.

Narrow tyres are also not recommended in wet conditions. You should use wider tyres of at least 25mm to maintain traction on slippery surfaces. 

Dry Bike After Rain

If you don’t clean your bike after cycling in the rain, you could harm its functionality. 

Water and mud can expose the components to a buildup of debris and salt. After each ride, you should wash down your bike with water and dish soap and re-lube the chain with oil. 

Applying WD40 to your chain will keep it running quietly and smoothly. You could also use a specialist brake cleaner to remove grit, oil and grease, and rehydrate your brake pads. 

Avoid Leaning Over at Corners

Turning corners in the rain can be dangerous. Leaning into them in the rain is a recipe for distaster.

To avoid reducing the contact thread patch of your tyres and improve your balance, decrease your speed as you approach corners and try and keep your body weight over to the rear wheel. 

Best Bike for Riding in Rain

So, you’ve got your cycling gear, you know how to clean your bike, and you’re armed to the teeth with tips and tricks to keep safe. Now for the big question: what bike should you ride?

Any bike that’s functional, well-maintained and uses the correct pressure should be suitable to ride. However, if you’re looking for something new, stick with us. 

We’d general recommend bikes with bigger, wider tyres for riding in the rain. Fat bikes obviously have the biggest tyres of the lot, but they are notoriously hard work to ride (unless you’re happy to invest in an electric fat bike, of course).. Mountain bikes can also deal well with difficult conditions, but again aren’t the fastest. Therefore we’d recommend a hybrid bike if you regularly cycle in the rain. Hybrid bikes have thick tyres and often come equipped with fenders as default.

The Machine

This bike is designed for all types of weekly commutes in and out of town. Features front suspension, ready-to-go dynamo lighting, front and back splash guards and a rear pannier rack.

Best Bike Tyres for Riding in Rain

You’ve got your bike sorted – now, what about the tyres? 

Sometimes, the tyres that come with your bike are not equipped to deal with challenging conditions. If you’re looking for something more durable, you’ll need the following:

Tubeless Tyres

Thanks to their wide range of pressure adjustments, tubeless tyres are great for riding in the rain. 

You can run at lower air pressure and not have to worry about getting a flat if you hit that dreaded pothole at the end of your road. 

Their casing is incredibly robust and durable, too; they’re able to conform and absorb easily, making them a safe and reliable choice for commuting in unpredictable weather. 

Puncture Protected Tyres

Although tubeless tyres provide excellent protection against punctures, you might want to opt for some specifically designed, puncture-protected tyres if you ride on harsh terrain. 

These tyres are made with puncture-protected sub-tread. This is made from synthetic fabrics or rubber, which are incredibly resistant and capable of preventing punctures before damage can occur. 

If you have some extra cash to spare, you could even invest in some puncture-protected tyres that release a liquid sealant. This will temporarily plug a hole if you need to finish off your journey.

Wide Tyres

In slippery conditions, you’ll need a better grip on the road. The best way to get more grip? Width. 

Wide tyres are generally faster, too (without compromising your safety). If you can’t afford wide tyres but you’re caught in an unexpected rainstorm, the best thing to do is gradually release a small amount of pressure to widen your tyres automatically. 

Want to invest in something new? Find some of the best bike tyres for riding in the rain below:

Fincci Pair 700 X 35c 37-622 Tyres with 2.5mm Antipuncture Protection for Cycle Road Mountain MTB Hybrid Touring Electric Bike Bicycle (Pack of 2)
  • Size: 700 * 35c ETRTO 37-622 28 x 1 3/8 x 1 5/8. Suitable for 700c Wheels
  • 2.5mm Antipuncture Protection. Weight: 1000gr each tyre. Package consists of 2 x tyres
  • Made of high quality nylon and rubber compound. Steel wire cord bead for tyre reinforcement
Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700X28C Wired Tyre with Smartguard Reflective S/Wall 740g (28-622) - Black
2,702 Reviews
Schwalbe Marathon Plus 700X28C Wired Tyre with Smartguard Reflective S/Wall 740g (28-622) - Black
  • Raleigh Schwalbe marathon plus tyre
  • Offers protection against punctures, snake bites and sidewall damage
  • Smartguard material is highly elastic rubber, but is also amazingly strong

Bike Commuting Rain Gear 

Now, let’s get a round-up of the best rain-resistant cycling gear for commuters. 

Cycling Gloves

Cycling gloves are a necessity. 

A good pair of waterproof cycling gloves will keep your hands warm and dry and make your ride much more enjoyable.

You’ll need to look for something flexible and breathable, too – you’ll be changing gears, braking, and signalling, so the last thing you need is to wear anything restrictive. 

It’s best to shop in person, test a few pairs out and opt for something with good grip. Make sure you don’t feel too confined and ensure they’re waterproof enough to handle even the most aggressive of downpours.

SEALSKINZ Unisex Waterproof All Weather Glove, Grey/Black, M
311 Reviews
SEALSKINZ Unisex Waterproof All Weather Glove, Grey/Black, M
  • 100% WATERPROOF | BREATHABLE | WINDPROOF
  • Waterproof - three layer construction for warmth, durability and waterproofing
  • Dexterity - pre curved fingers for greater control

Overshoes

Overshoes are footwear worn over another shoe, and they’re made from weather-resistant materials. They’re usually exposed at the bottom of the foot so that cyclists can still ‘clip’ them to their pedals. 

They’re an essential addition for wet days, and many brands are reflective and easy to wash. You can buy overshoes in a variety of colours, and they’re also pretty cheap. 

Wearing trousers that fit over the top of your shoes will provide extra protection against the rain. Shorter socks can also help keep you dry if they’re short enough to prevent the water wicking. 

GORE WEAR C3 Unisex Cycling Shoe Covers GORE-TEX, Size: 45-47, Colour: Neon Yellow
  • Waterproof unisex overshoe for cool weather conditions
  • GORE-TEX Active Technology: Waterproof, windproof and extremely breathable
  • Ideal for all common pedal systems, Open sole with reinforced edge for abrasion protection, Optimal fit thanks to adjustable Velcro fastener at the back

Packable Jackets 

Just because it’s warm and sunny doesn’t mean you won’t be met with an unexpected downpour. 

When it’s too warm for a snug thermal, packable jackets are a lifesaver. They’re lightweight but powerfully water-resistant, and their packable nature means they’re easy to carry on your bike or tuck away once you get to work. 

You’ll be able to choose if you want a hood or not, and some jackets even have removable ones to give you more control.

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, you’ll also benefit from reflective detailing to keep you visible and safe in harsh conditions. 

GUIDE: Packable Cycling Jackets in Case You Get Caught in the Rain

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

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