How to bike in the rain
If you are a serious cyclist or use your e-bike for commuting then there are only two seasons that concern you: good weather conditions and bad weather conditions. It’s fairly obvious that you won’t be biking in the snow (though, I’ve seen plenty of ice road cyclists, a group of people with a level of hardcore commitment that I just can’t reconcile) or during a major storm, but the day may come when you need to bike in the rain.
Biking in the rain is all about protecting yourself head to toe from not only the elements, but the changes on the road caused by those elements. The best advice for biking in the rain is not to bike in the rain. But if you absolutely have to bike in the rain, then you either can’t fathom a break in your routine or your bike is your primary commuting vehicle. So here’s some tips for biking in adverse weather conditions.
The road is not your friend anymore
The first thing you’ll notice about biking in the rain is the road has suddenly turned into a minefield of hazards. Any metal surface (like sewer grates) are now slick and frictionless. Oil patches, inviting with wavy rainbows are a braking nightmare. And who knows what piles of broken road viscera lurks in newly formed puddles. The point is, give yourself plenty of time for braking on wet roads and try to avoid large puddles.
Speaking about brakes
If you have standard caliper rim brakes then you’ll want to definitely brake a lot sooner than you usually do. When brakes get wet, there is less friction against the rim and it’s harder to stop on that proverbial dime. While disc brakes offer a bit more stopping power no matter the weather conditions, that doesn’t mean your tires are going to respond as quickly on a slick road.
Clean your gear(s)
Your bike components do not enjoy being wet, that is, there is a greater opportunity for lasting damage if you don’t take appropriate steps after a ride in the rain. Using an extra water bottle or a hose, spray off the dirt and grime that may be hanging out on your gear assembly, rim brakes and chain. Too much moisture trapped in these areas can lead to rust and degradation of parts. Apply a heavier lube to a dry chain to keep excess water from rusting out the chain.
Don’t forget to protect yourself
Riding in the rain is not just a challenge for your brakes and chain to keep clean, it’s also a challenge for you to stay safe. Things like visors or a tight, low riding cap will keep the rain out of your face so as not to obscure your vision. Waterproof backpacks and bags will help protect whatever gear you are carrying and wearing breathable rain gear will keep you from getting soaked to the bone. Waterproof gloves and booties will keep your hands and feet responsive and generally warm. And don’t forget to put a bag on your seat if it’s going to be parked in the rain.
Finally, don’t forget about lights
Just like driving in the rain, you’ll want to be sure that you have fully charged lithium ion battery powered lights, shining bright. Traditional lights that take AA or AAA batteries are doomed to fail in the rain, as water easily disrupts the electrical connection. Rechargeable lights are a much more reliable option.
Biking in the elements, especially rain, offers more opportunity for dangerous conditions than biking on a dry day. Being prepared with the right gear and taking care of your bike and its parts can go a long way into not only extending the life of your bike through the elements, but yours as well. Bike safe and try to stay dry.