How Long Are Bikes Okay in the Rain? [PROTECTION GUIDE]

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You might get away with leaving your bike out in the rain for a few days, but it’s best if you avoid it.

We know the feeling — skidding through puddles of water and riding in the rain might make you feel like a child again.

That’s great — until it’s not, and your bike suffers for it. 

Mud and water deteriorate the functionality of your bike over time. However, you might be lucky if you coat your metal frames with waterproof paint to protect them from water damage. 

Though, after some years of use, these coatings wear off or get chipped and scratched on impact.

Composite frame bikes have excellent water resistance and you could ride them in the rain, across wet concrete, or over a puddle. 

However, all bike parts are not built with this feature. Besides, manufacturers advise extra care to keep water away from bikes.

In this post, we’ll discuss a few things to consider before leaving your bike out in the rain.

What Happens if a Bike Gets Rained On?

A number of things could happen to your bike when it gets rained on. This might lead to it breaking down a lot sooner than the manufacturer stated.

When a bike gets rained on:

  1. The rims will get wet, interfering with the braking efficiency.
  2. Bike computers, lights, batteries, and other electronic components attached to the bike might get damaged.
  3. Rain, dust, dirt, and slush on the bike may not cause any immediate damage, but the mechanical parts may start to rust much later.

Will Rain Destroy My Bike?

In the short-term rain will not destroy a bike. However, if a bike is left unprotected for long periods, rain can significantly damage a bicycle’s chain, cassette and derailleur through rust and corrosion.

The good news is, there are a lot of ways to weatherproof all parts of your bike. One is to use a 100% waterproof bike cover. Or, you could protect specific parts, like just the saddle, for instance, that are most in danger of water damage.

Are Bikes “Waterproof”? 

Fully mechanical bikes are reasonably water-resistant. This classification means you won’t have any trouble from just riding in the rain for a while. As long as you dry off and store your bike properly afterwards.

This is not always the case for bikes manufactured with uncoated steel parts and cheap cables instead of the better rustproof stainless steel or chrome parts. In which case, you would need to take special care to dry off and lubricate/oil the chains and other moving parts.

e-Bikes, on the other hand, have electronic parts required to have the minimum Ingress Protection (IP) rating prescribed for water- or splash-resistant devices. 

The IP code is part of the specifications of any consumer electronic product intended for indoor/outdoor usage. Essentially, IP codes tell to what extent your device is protected from water damage and dust penetration.

How to Protect a Bicycle from Rusting 

Leaving a bike in the rain for one day won’t break it, but continuous storage in the weather will have a compounding effect. You may start to notice rusting of mechanical parts like screws and drivetrains.

Here are a few ways you can protect your bike from rusting:

  1. Do not take out the seat post to avoid water getting inside the frame. Instead, get a waterproof saddle cover.
  2. Clean the bike of dirt, dust, moisture, and slush as they will often contribute to chain wear and rusting. Then, lubricate/oil drivetrains regularly.
  3. Consider recoating your frames if you notice that the paint is starting to wear off.

Nothing beats storing your bike in a secure indoor parking space safe from the weather. If you commute to work daily on a bike, try getting a place to keep the bike indoors at the office. 

When at home, park it in the garage, a shed, or use a waterproof bike cover if you only have outdoor storage space.

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