How to ride a bicycle in the rain Easily – 14 Tips
There have been situations where you have to ride your bicycle in the rain. It could be because that is the only mode of transportation to reach your work, or you are determined to stick to your fitness regime. Riding a Bicycle in the rain can be a problem if you are not used to the various problems that are associated with it. Do not worry, this article discusses all the important ideas to follow if you are determined to ride your bicycle in the rain.
To ride your bicycle in the rain easily, the main goal is to try and stay as dry as possible. Riding in rain invites all sorts of dirt to stick to the bicycle, so keep the bicycle also dry after each ride. In order to do that, follow the below ideas,
- Wear a Rain Jacket
- Keep Your Head Dry
- Waterproof your Backpack/Pannier
- Wear Water Proof Gloves
- Use Body Warmers
- Carry Work Clothes Separately
- Use Bicycle Lights
- Always use Mud Guards
- Keep Chain Degreased
- Avoid Water Puddles
- Reduce Tire Pressure
- Brake Less
- Do not let the Bicycle Stay Wet
- Train Indoors
Wear a Rain Jacket
This one is a no brainer! I mean, if you want to prevent getting wet, wearing a good rain jacket is essential. Not the usual rain jacket, rather the ones that are specifically made for bicycling. Cover your whole body with the jacket and the waterproof pant to prevent yourself from getting drenched.
The body should maintain a specific temperature and a wet body part will definitely not help in that process. Bicycling with a wet body will invite all sorts of complications in the long run. So make sure to have a rain jacket always in your pannier/backpack.
The picture below is a good example of a proper rain jacket for bicycling. This one has proper fitting as well as enough space to move your legs. Do not buy cheaper ones as life is going to be limited if you are an everyday commuter.
Keep Your Head Dry
The usual bicycling helmet is not going to cover your head during wet weather. This is because bicycling helmets have openings for air to flow. This prevents excess sweating during a humid day. However, if you are going to use the same helmet for your wet day ride as well, it is not going to help you.
In order to prevent from getting your hair and head wet, try using a simple plastic or headcover and wear the helmet on top. I wear a simple plastic cap and put the helmet on top, this way my hair does not get wet. You can buy a good plastic cap for as low as 100 INR or 2$ in your nearby store.
Additionally, choosing a cap over a cover provides the additional choice of preventing the rain droplets from falling on your face and hindering the driving.
DIY TIP: Using a shower cap is also a good idea! I use it if I cannot find my plastic cap or I forgot to pack it in my backpack. Do not rely on it too much though.
Waterproof your Backpack/Pannier
If you carry a backpack to work, choose one that has a waterproof cover attached to it. Additionally, make sure that the bag itself is water-resistant. The inner lining can prevent water droplets from entering that way providing good resistant in case water droplets creep in.
Waterproofing your backpack or Pannier is very important as a wet bag invites all sorts of problems. The backpacks or Pannier themselves cannot be waterproof, they can only be water-resistant. That is, the bags get wet in case of rain, however, they will not allow the water to enter inside the bag because of the inner lining. The idea is to cover even the outer part of the backpack with a cover that usually comes along with a bag.
The below picture shows a pannier that has been waterproofed while riding the bike.
The above picture was taken during one of my solo bike rides. Even though this is a motorcycle ride, the pannier was covered using a sheet to waterproof the bag.
Wear WaterProof Gloves
Another mistake that a lot of people do is take up riding without proper gloves. The whole need for gloves is to not show off, rather protect your fingers and most importantly your palm and wrist.
If it is for a short ride, gloves are not preferred, however, if you are riding every day to work or sticking heavily to your fitness routine ensure that there is a proper glove that can be your protector. Do not choose a normal bicycling glove, but choose a good waterproof glove. The last thing you want is to get wet hands and reduce your body temperature because of that.
Use Body Warmers
Wearing layers can seem too much especially in a country like India. Any country that is relatively hotter throughout the year except for the few months around the rainy season, wearing body warmers can seem too much. But, they are a really good way to stay warm and maintain your body temperature.
Prefer Body Warmers if you are from a relatively colder country or your cold resistance is a bit low. Wear a body warmer directly below your jacket. Need not wear an additional shirt on top unless it is absolutely necessary. The last thing you want is to get wet and having to wash a lot of clothes.
Carry Work Clothes Separately
This one is actually a good practice rather than a tip to stay dry in rain. The article on how to ride a bicycle without sweating also had this tip to carry your work clothes separately. This will ensure that you stay dry and fresh at your work and not worry about spoiling your work attire.
I personally, always carry my work clothes in my pannier every day and change it as soon as I reach work. Showering is also a great option, but prefer it only if you have become wet or drenched in rain. Carrying work clothes separately is a good idea if there is a place to change dress in your workplace. In case there isn’t one, wear the rain jacket properly and additionally use a body warmer to stay warm and not get cold feet when you enter your workplace.
Most often, people use a normal backpack to carry their clothes and work-related items. As mentioned above, this can be a problem if your valuables get wet because of a normal drizzle. Choose a good quality Waterproof Backpack or Pannier. Make sure to not carry heavy luggage or exceed the recommended kgs in your backpack/pannier. It makes it super hard to ride in the rain with a heavy backpack.
Use Bicycle Lights
A very important point to note is that the visibility more often than not during rain, is very low. There have been a lot of times when I couldn’t see where I was driving at all. Bicycle Lights are life-saving equipment that is a definite must in every bicycle. Choose a good bicycle light and ensure that they are working before you start your ride in the rain.
This article on Bicycle Lights for NightRiders has a lot of budget lights that are absolutely necessary for your bicycle. If you are choosing rechargeable lights, ensure that they are actually charged a day before. Spend 5 minutes with a reminder on your convenient time to check for the batteries or charge on your bicycle.
Lights may serve less purpose during the day time, but the Bicycle Lights are of utmost importance during a rainy night as the visibility is completely lost. The lights are not only going to help you but also let the other vehicles on road know about your position. Prefer a good headlight and reflector combination to have much better visibility.
Always Use Mud Guard
We looked at keeping ourselves dry so far, and it is now going to be about the bicycle that you ride. If you have shelled quite a bit of money in buying your bicycle, you will know for a fact that there are going to be no mudguards present on them. This is usually to give a much better look but also to reduce the weight of the bicycle.
In all budget bicycles, mudguards are present by default, opting for a mudguard prevents a lot of damage to the rear or the front part of the bicycle. Dust, grime, mud are a common sight during the rainy season. It especially becomes a pain when your entire rear seat is covered in mud. Using good mudguards prevents this from happening.
Note: Mudguards tend to accumulate all sorts of dust and grime over a period of time. Ensure that they are clean before the rainy season begins or clean the bottom of the mudguard regularly.
Keep Chain Degreased
Keeping Chain Degreased is compulsory if you want to have a longer bicycle life. The need for degreasing the bicycle chain was discussed in depth in that article. The primary reason for having a clean and degreased chain especially during the rainy season is, yes you guessed it right, to keep the dirt, grime, and mud away.
Degreasing agents or degreasers are super useful and a must-have in every cyclers kit. There are a ton of different types of degreasers that are used in different climatic conditions. The whole purpose of a degreaser as the name suggests is to keep the grease away and ensure the chain health is maintained. With the accumulation of dirt and dust in between the chain, knots can rust the chain or the connecting rear gear system. Degreasing need not be an everyday activity, rather keep the chain clean and degrease once every 2 weeks.
Note: Do not confuse degreasers with chain lubes as the purpose of the two are different.
Avoid Water Puddles
If you are from a country like India, you will understand why this is here(Slow Claps!). Water puddles are notoriously bigger in size and also far deeper than expected. Rainy season makes it extremely hard to navigate through these water puddles and can potentially create havoc on your bicycle and in turn on you also.
However, the main reason why water puddle has to be avoided is to ensure that the brake leavers do not see the dirty water on the road. If you are a busy rider, that has to drive to and fro from work and then have other things to do at home after a long day, then probably consider not to get adventurous with water puddles. The water puddle can rust the brakes faster if not cleaned properly. Take proper care of the bicycle brakes once in a month at the very least so that the dirt is removed and proper lubrication is applied.
Reduce Tire Pressure
This one is not a mandatory step, but can be helpful in the long run. Reducing tire pressure during the rainy season can actually normalize the tire pressure and also ensure the grime on the road does not stick much. Make sure to not over inflate the tire at any point. Reduce the frequency of filling the air during the rainy season. The pressure is automatically maintained because of a drop in temperature during this season.
I personally do not fill the air at any filling station rather have a small air pump with a pressure gauge attached. Reducing the air by 2-3 PSI can make a difference since the tire does not get too flat and not over-inflate at the same time. If you are looking at some good Air Pumps in India, take a look at the article for an in-depth review of the best ones in your budget.
Ah! The notoriously wet roads can be life-threatening if you brake like crazy during the rainy season. Curb your braking senses and try to ride at a lower cadence and brake lesser than usual. As you can see in the picture below, the road is covered with oil. This usually happens at the start of the monsoon after a good period of autumn or spring.
The oil on the road is going to be present for at least a week and can become riders’ nightmare even. Since we cannot control that on the road, the only thing we can control is riding a lower cadence than usual. Also, brake only with your rear brake and try to avoid your front brake as much as possible.
Do not let the Bicycle Stay Wet
This has been iterated a lot of times in the above steps, however, you cannot control why the bicycle is getting wet during a rainy season. But, make sure to do the following steps every weekend. It will take a maximum of 5 minutes.
- Wash your bicycle with water. Do not have to waste a lot, just enough to cover all the parts.
- Dry it with a cloth. Ensure you cover the mudguard and the gear hub properly.
- Apply the degreaser and lube if you want to.
This 3-step maintenance alone can make a ton of difference during the rainy season. The reason why we are cleaning the already wet bicycle during the rainy season is, yes again, remove the grime and mud that covers up the bicycle parts.
If you are on a heavy training regimen and have to definitely get the cycling done, the best option is to look at an indoor trainer. Indoor trainers or exercise bicycles are a great option to keep yourself dry and not worry much about the road conditions. The choice is yours, but if you are looking out for good indoor trainers, take a look at this article on the best exercise bicycles in India fitting your budget.
Rainy Season can be a difficult time of the year to bicycle, but following these tips can make a sea of difference in the longevity of the bicycle as well the rider’s health.