In the UK, if putting in the hours on your bike is something you just can’t go without, riding in the rain will become part of the package. Love the challenge? Or simply just hate it, there are plenty of ways to prepare, survive and recover from cycling in the rain both for you and your bike.
1 – The Jacket
The most important item of clothing when heading out for some miles on the bike in the rain, is a jacket. Not only will a good waterproof jacket keep your body dry, it will help you regulate your body temperature. GoreTex is the best material as it is waterproof and breathable, which is important as you don’t want to overheat.
Tip! A thinner rain jacket (shell) could also be used with the correct layers underneath, although persistent or very heavy rain will get through eventually.
2 – Cycling cap
Air vents in helmets are great in the heat, but not so much in the rain. A cheap cycling cap worn under your helmet is a good barrier for your head, with the peak giving extra protection for your eyes against the spray.
3 – Overshoes and gloves:
Hands and feet are the first parts of your body to be sacrificed in order to maintain a core temperature, and when they get wet and cold you’ll start to feel uncomfortable. Water resistant overshoes are a worthy investment, while gloves are a little harder to get right.
Tip! If you’re on a budget wear plastic bags between your socks, tights and shoes to give your feet some extra protection from the elements.
4 – Glasses
It sounds obvious, but wearing a pair of glasses with a clear or yellow lens will provide the necessary protection to avoiding water, mud and grit getting in your eyes.
Tip! Yellow or orange lenses will increase contrast during low visibility, making it easier to see uneven areas of road.
1 – Light
When riding in poor visibility or at night by law you should fit a:
• Amber pedal reflectors on the front and back
• White front light
• Red rear light
• Red rear reflector
Tip! Front and rear spoke reflectors would also be a good addition.
2 – Mudguards
They may not look good, and they may well rattle, but they are very important. Mudguards are pretty self-explanatory, they’ll keep muck and water from the road getting all over you! Even if you miss the rain, the roads will remain wet and water that gets flicked up by the wheels can get you wet and cold.
Tip! A flap added to the front guard will give you even more protection.
3 – Check your tyres
When it rains there’s likely to be excess muck and grit on the road and when your tyres are wet they’ll pick up more of this than usual. As a result it’s important to use the appropriate tyres which provide puncture protection and are grippy.
After each ride take a quick look over your tyres for any grit, debris or cuts that could weaken the carcass or allow the inner tube to bulge through.
Tip! It’s a good idea to ride a heavier tyre in the winter with a thick tread as poorer conditions are likely to be a regular occurrence. Swapping from standard 23mm to 25mm tyres, as well as running a slightly lower pressure is advisable.
4 – Chain degreaser
After a ride in the rain you probably can’t wait to jump in the shower and dry yourself off. You should try to treat your chain the same. Cover it in degreaser (WD40 is a good start) then vigorously wipe it down with a rag until it’s dry. A few drops of lube will then protect it for the next ride. It’s a good idea to spray the other metallic moving parts too; front and rear gear mechanisms and brake callipers. Ideally your whole bike would get a clean and wash down after a wet ride, but we know that’s not always realistic.