Are road bikes safe to ride in the rain? Yes, road bikes are safe to ride in the rain. You need to think about a few tips and ideas to keep it safe. Rain never stopped you riding as a kid, did it?
Rain will always occur so there’s no reason for not being prepared. If you follow our tips below, riding in the rain can be fun. You’ll also be able to tell everyone how hardcore you are as the rain did not keep you at home watching TV like them. Everyone loves building themselves up a bit.
Don’t Jacket in, Get a Jacket
The first thing I would do to make riding in the rain pleasurable is to get is a quality waterproof jacket. You’ll want as breathable a jacket as your budget will allow. Road cycling builds up a sweat, even in the rain. If your jacket does not let the sweat out, you have pretty much ruined the point of buying it.
As crucial as the breathability of the jacket is, make sure that you correctly layer up underneath it. If you have a highly technical jacket and wear a cotton t-shirt under it, then you have just wasted the money you spent on the jacket. Remember that getting soaked in sweat will eventually give you a chill and all of the associated ills.
These purchases do not have to be expensive. You don’t need to buy this season’s colorways. You are buying clothes for their technical merit and not their fashion merit. Given that you will be wearing them outdoors in the rain, any fashion merits will quickly be disguised by dirt and road grime.
Technical clothing will also naturally help you regulate your temperature and stop you from becoming cold. Being cold causes issues on wet days as it ruins your concentration. A lack of concentration is what makes riding in the rain dangerous.
When you are at a comfortable temperature, you will then be able to look ahead and check for potholes, puddles, and oil spills. That, for me, is why great clothing is essential. It allows me to ride safely and not be a prisoner of distraction in the cold.
There are other things that will also destroy your concentration on wet days. So, it’s best to be aware of them and limit their effects. The next main issue is cold and wet feet and hands. It is incredible how quickly cold feet and hands can ruin a day out.
Cold hands can also hamper your braking and steering, which, from a safety point of view, is something we do not want. Cold feet end up hurting and distracting you, all you can think about is how freezing you are. Your mind shouldn’t be distracted from this misery. So buy waterproof gloves and overshoes (gloves for your shoes).
If you forget overshoes, you can stop at a shop and get carrier bags, place these over your socks and inside your shoes for a quick bit of relief. Another good way to help your feet, and the rest of your bike, is to fit fenders. They will stop splashback from the road onto you and into the headset and bottom bracket bearings on your road bike.
Never Lose Your Bearings
Your bearings can die quickly in wet weather. After riding, make sure you clean your bike and do any maintenance needed. If you’ve had a few wet rides, I would look at re-greasing my headset. I’d also check my bottom bracket, it should last longer than your headset when it comes to needing grease.
After looking after your bearing spare a thought for your chain. When riding, your chain takes a load of abuse, no more so than on rainy days. If you’ve finished a wet ride, degrease and clean your chain, and then lube it up again. Not doing this can lead to rust.
Rust means you run the risk of your chain snapping at a very inopportune moment with deadly consequences. Make sure you look after your chain. Doing this will also help your drivetrain live longer, saving you a lot of money in the long run. Get in to the habit of doing this.
Your tires can also make a huge difference. Before riding, check your tires for wear and tear. Not doing so is asking for a spill and none of us like falling.
You can also lower your pressure on wet days to find more grip. The problem is that you become more likely to accrue punctures by doing this. Changing or patching a tube with wet and cold hands is a nightmare. Something that usually takes minutes can feel like hours. Try a tire such as the Schwalbe Durano with increased puncture protection for wet days.
My next tip is always look up. Looking up into the rain might not seem fun. On a stormy day, a cycling cap under your helmet will help. The visor will move the rain away from your eyes and glasses. You can then look up and see all the dangers on the road before they get to close. This enables you to maneuver yourself without any sharp or late movements.
You want to be flowing along the road on wet days. The smoother your movements, the less chance there is of your front wheel sliding out and taking you down. So, look well down the road and pay attention to traffic behind you. Cars also take longer to stop in the rain. Be proactive and signal your intentions early, so everyone knows what is happening.
Rain does not need to stop you from going for a ride, and it is perfectly safe. You have to pay attention and make sure you have the correct clothing and that you follow the tips here. There is a Norwegian saying for this “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær.” There is no such thing as bad weather, there is just bad clothing.