Tips

7 Secrets to CONQUERING Wet Weather Bike Rides

Male cyclist in waterproof gear cycling in the rain

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For those of you lucky enough to live in sunny climates, we have to admit we’re jealous. Nothing compares to cycling when the sun is shining.

For the rest of us, we’ve got to make the best out of what we’ve got. In the UK, that means that if we want to cycle all year round, we will have to get wet.

But it isn’t all doom and gloom. In this article, we’ll cover 7 secrets for conquering wet-weather bike rides to make them as pain-free as possible.

Why Cycle in the Rain?

For most of us, we don’t have a choice. If we want to get out on our bikes daily, we’ll have to do so in some pretty poor weather conditions. 

But every cloud has a silver lining. Did you know there are some benefits of cycling in the rain? It is refreshing and invigorating to experience Mother Nature in all her glory and can significantly improve other aspects of our cycling.

We improve our bike handling skills when we cycle in the rain. Negotiating slippery surfaces can help us master balance and control, making us more confident and proficient cyclists.

But even better than this, it’s a question of mind over matter. Cycling in challenging conditions can give us a sense of accomplishment, making us more satisfied.

Not convinced? We get it; it’s a tricky sell, but at least we tried. Here are our 7 secrets for making wet bike rides a little bit easier.


Man cycling in the rain with sunglasses on

Eyewear

If we’re honest, cycling in the rain is a pain in the eyes. The intensity of water splashing in our faces and the problems it poses for our vision can make cycling in wet weather unpleasant, to say the least.

Wearing proper glasses will make cycling in the rain significantly easier. These days, you can buy hydrophobic glasses that will repel water from the lenses like the soft-top of a convertible car would.

However, even with a normal pair of cycling glasses, there are a couple of tricks. Some people say that applying a product like Rain-X to help the water to ‘bead’ on the surface can work a charm. 

But we’ve also seen some other more creative suggestions, from surf wax and soap on one end of the scale to your saliva on the other!  Needless to say, heed caution before spitting onto your glasses! 


Bicycle lights

Lights

Similarly, reduced visibility is one of the most irritating aspects of cycling in the rain.

Bike lights don’t just help in the dark, they can make cycling in heavy rain way more comfortable. 

Whilst most lights are waterproof to a degree, consider investing in a decent set with a waterproof rating of at least IP65.

Crucially, you don’t just want to see, but equally to be seen. Make sure to equip a rear light and a front one to avoid any unnecessary accidents.


Lubing bike chain for riding in the rain

Lube Up

Of all the parts of your bike, your chain is probably the most vulnerable when it comes to wet weather conditions.

A suitable wet-weather lubricant is crucial in the rain, especially if you don’t want your chain to rust or snap. 

It’s also important to ensure that you apply it properly. Clean and dry the chain with a rag and degreaser to prime the surface. 

Next, apply a wet or all-weather chain lube onto each chain link, slowly rotating the pedals backward as you do so.

Finally, rotate the pedals for at least 30 seconds, wipe off any excess, and you’re ready. 

Whilst it isn’t the most exciting, maintaining your existing components rather than buying new ones is one of the best ways to avoid future headaches.


bike tires in rain

Reduce Air Pressure

If you’ve got a long, rainy ride ahead of you, reducing the air pressure in your tires can be a good strategy for a more comfy ride.

Lowering tire pressure can increase your traction. This is because there’s greater contact with the surface of the road. The benefit of this is that you should have more control, especially when hitting those wet corners.

The key here is to strike a balance. Deflating your tires too much can pose some problems, such as pinch flats, reduced efficiency, and, worst of all, rim damage.

According to Silca, reducing your tire pressure to about 10% below the recommended amount is a good place to start for wet weather conditions.


waterproof rain jacket

A Good Waterproof Jacket Goes a Long Way

The worst-kept secret on this list is a waterproof jacket.

Investing in a waterproof jacket that is actually waterproof and not just water-resistant will make your rainy rides much more comfortable. This includes having sealed seams and well-fitted, adjustable cuffs and hems to prevent water from sneaking in.

But you know what’s just as important as waterproofing? Breathability. There are few things as unpleasant as a steamy and sweaty ride, especially if you plan on working at the other end. Sure, it’s great if a jacket keeps water out, but if it’s not letting air escape, that’s a problem for you and those around you.

Do yourself and everybody else a favor. Look for durable jackets with ventilation panels, pit zips, or breathable fabrics like Gore-Tex. 


Dry bag

Dry bag

Whilst you want to get to your destination in one, ideally dry, piece, you also want your possessions to arrive in the same way.

A dry bag is a roll-top, watertight bag that closes to prevent any liquid whatsoever from entering. It’s mainly used for water sports but can be great for cyclists, too.

Look for one made of heavy, durable material, and use it to carry things you want to avoid getting wet, such as your phone, laptop, or any important documents.

Thankfully, dry bags are an affordable way to prepare for a worst-case scenario. When you get caught in a downpour, you’ll be grateful that you’ve got one.


Waterproof gloves

Get the Gloves on

One of the cheapest and best-kept secrets is to layer up on gloves on wet-weather bike rides.

Whilst a good pair of gloves can keep your hands warm and reasonably dry, there’s something even better. A disposable pair of latex or nitrile gloves underneath your regular pair can help to keep your hands protected even in the wettest conditions. 

In winter, having wet, cold hands is one of the worst parts of cycling. You can’t feel your fingers, can’t use the key in your bike lock, and you can’t help feeling pretty miserable.

Cycling in the rain can be a great pleasure if you prepare yourself well. With these tips, you’ll be ready to conquer the road, come rain or shine, and become a more competent and all-rounded cyclist.

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