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There’s no denying it: cycling in the rain can be a bit of a drag. But as the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” With the right gear and a few smart tips, you can turn a dreary day on the bike into an enjoyable, wet-weather adventure. In this blog post, we’re sharing eight pro hacks for conquering rainy ride discomfort, so you can keep pedaling with confidence, come rain or (hopefully, eventually) shine. Ready to brave the elements? Let’s dive in!
Invest in Waterproof Cycling Gear
First things first: if you want to stay comfortable during a rainy ride, investing in good quality waterproof cycling gear is a must. Start with a breathable rain jacket that’s both waterproof and wind-resistant. This will not only keep you dry but also help regulate your body temperature. My personal favorite is the Navigator rain jacket from Showers Pass, which has never let me down during a downpour.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the essential items to keep you dry and comfortable:
Rain Jacket: Look for a rain jacket made from a breathable, waterproof material like Gore-Tex or eVent. These materials wick moisture away from your body while keeping rain out. When choosing a jacket, consider features like a drop rear hem, taped seams, adjustable cuffs, and an adjustable hood or high collar to seal out the elements. Ventilation zippers and mesh panels can also help regulate your body temperature during high-intensity rides. Bright colors or reflective accents will enhance your visibility on the road.
Waterproof Overpants/Tights: Similar to rain jackets, waterproof pants or tights should be made from breathable, waterproof material. Look for pants with an adjustable waistband, taped seams, and zippered or Velcro ankle closures to keep water out. Some waterproof pants also feature reflective accents for added visibility.
Shoe Covers/Rain Shoes: Waterproof shoe covers, also known as overshoes, are designed to fit over your regular cycling shoes. They typically feature a waterproof outer layer, a fleece-lined interior for insulation, and a zippered or Velcro closure. Rain shoes, on the other hand, are dedicated cycling shoes built to withstand wet conditions. They often include features like sealed seams, waterproof materials, and neoprene cuffs to keep water out.
Waterproof Gloves: When selecting waterproof gloves, look for a pair that combines a waterproof outer layer with an insulating, moisture-wicking lining. Some gloves also include touchscreen-compatible fingertips, allowing you to use your smartphone without removing your gloves. Additionally, consider gloves with a silicone grip on the palm and fingers to maintain control of your handlebars in wet conditions.
I remember one particularly wet ride where I had skimped on my rain gear, opting for a cheap rain jacket that wasn’t breathable (or particularly waterproof). Within half an hour, I was soaked to the bone, not only from the rain but also from my own sweat. That day, I realized the importance of investing in high-quality waterproof gear, and I’ve never looked back.
- Choose a breathable, waterproof rain jacket with taped seams and ventilation features
- Opt for waterproof pants or tights with adjustable waistbands and ankle closures
- Protect your feet with waterproof shoe covers or dedicated rain shoes, and keep your hands dry with waterproof gloves
Mudguards and Fenders are Your Friends
Mudguards and fenders come in various styles, materials, and sizes to suit different types of bikes and riding conditions. These handy accessories prevent water, mud, and debris from splashing up onto your clothes and face, ensuring you arrive at your destination looking presentable (or, in my case, as presentable as I was when I set out).
Full-length mudguards provide the best protection, and they can be easily attached to most bike frames. They’re not to everyone’s taste though and so, if you’re worried about aesthetics, there are also some other sleek, minimalist options available that won’t detract from the look of your bike.
Here’s a breakdown of the options available:
Full-Length Mudguards: These provide the most comprehensive protection against water and debris. They are typically made from durable materials like aluminum or plastic and can be attached to the frame of your bike using eyelets or brackets. Some full-length mudguards also include mud flaps at the bottom to further prevent spray.
Clip-On Mudguards: If your bike doesn’t have eyelets or you’re looking for a more temporary solution, clip-on mudguards are a great option. These can be quickly attached and removed as needed, making them ideal for unpredictable weather. They may not provide as much coverage as full-length mudguards, but they still offer substantial protection.
Ass Savers: These minimalistic, foldable mudguards are popular among road cyclists and commuters. They are easily attached to the saddle rails and can be folded up when not in use. While they don’t offer the same level of protection as full-length mudguards, they do an excellent job of keeping your backside dry during light to moderate rain.
Last year, I joined a group ride on a drizzly day without mudguards on my bike. As we rode, I quickly became “that guy” – the one who sprayed muddy water on everyone behind me. As you can imagine, I wasn’t too popular! Learn from my mistake and keep yourself and fellow riders dry and mud-splash free.
- Full-length mudguards offer comprehensive protection against water and debris
- Clip-on mudguards provide a convenient, temporary solution for bikes without eyelets
- Ass savers are minimalistic, foldable mudguards perfect for light to moderate rain
Maintain Visibility in Gloomy Conditions
Rainy weather often brings conditions where it can be difficult for other road users to see you. This can often lead to near misses, or worse. There’s a range of things you can do to improve your visibility when it’s raining. Consider wearing reflective clothing or accessories, such as a reflective vest or ankle bands. I always wear a helmet-mounted light for increased visibility, and it’s great when it comes to making sure I’m seen in low-light conditions. Right now, I’m also a big fan of light-up pedals, which have been a game-changer for improving my visibility in gloomy and rainy weather.
In addition to these, there are several other ways to improve your visibility during rainy rides:
Reflective Clothing: Consider wearing a reflective vest, jacket, or jersey to increase your visibility on the road. Many waterproof cycling jackets feature reflective accents or piping, providing both protection from the rain and increased visibility.
Reflective Accessories: Reflective ankle bands, wristbands, or helmet covers can further enhance your visibility. These small accessories are affordable, lightweight, and easy to incorporate into your cycling wardrobe.
Hi-Vis Colors: Bright, hi-vis colors like neon yellow, orange, or green can help you stand out on the road, even in low-light conditions
Reflective Tape: Another affordable and versatile option is to use reflective tape on your bike, helmet, or accessories. You can customize the placement and design to suit your style while improving your visibility.
Spoke Reflectors and Lights: Spoke reflectors or lights can help make your bike more visible from the side, especially at intersections or when crossing roads. They are easy to install and come in various colors and styles.
During an early morning ride in the rain last year, I had a lesson in how crucial visibility is. A car nearly missed me at an intersection because my clothing and bike weren’t visible enough. Since then, I’ve made a point of incorporating reflective gear and bright colors into my rainy ride wardrobe.
- Wear reflective clothing and accessories for increased visibility
- Use bright front and rear lights to make yourself more noticeable on the road
- Opt for hi-vis colors and reflective tape on your bike, helmet, or accessories
Proper Tire Choice and Pressure for great grip on wet surfaces
The right tires can make a world of difference when cycling in the rain. No, they won’t keep you dry, but wider tires with deeper treads can improve your bike’s grip on wet surfaces, providing increased traction and stability.
Another key factor in wet-weather cycling is tire pressure. Slightly lowering your tire pressure can increase traction in wet conditions. However, be cautious not to overdo it, as this may cause pinch flats or impact your bike’s handling. Experiment to find the optimal pressure for your specific tires and conditions.
Here are some more details on how to optimize your tires for rainy rides:
Tire Choice: Opt for tires with a more aggressive tread pattern or those specifically designed for wet conditions. These tires provide better traction and grip on slippery surfaces, reducing the risk of slipping or skidding. Additionally, puncture-resistant tires can be a wise investment, as debris and sharp objects are more likely to cause flats in wet conditions.
Tire Pressure: Lowering your tire pressure slightly (around 5-10 PSI) can help increase the contact patch with the road, providing better grip and traction on wet surfaces.
Regular Maintenance: Inspect your tires regularly as part of good bike habits for any signs of wear or damage, and replace them when necessary. When the rubber tread becomes worn down, your tires won’t be able to grip the road surface and this could lead to slips and falls.
- Choose tires with an aggressive tread pattern or those specifically designed for wet conditions
- Lower your tire pressure slightly to improve grip and traction on slippery surfaces
- Regularly inspect and maintain your tires for optimal performance and safety
Embrace Waterproof Storage Solutions for keeping your tech dry
Keeping your belongings dry during a rainy ride is essential. Opt for waterproof panniers or a backpack with a rain cover to protect your gear. I learned this the hard way when I once arrived at work with a backpack full of soaked clothes and a drenched laptop. Lesson learned!
Let’s take a detailed look at waterproof storage options:
Waterproof Panniers: These durable, weather-resistant bags attach to a rear rack on your bike, providing ample storage space for your gear. Look for panniers made from waterproof materials with sealed seams, roll-top closures, or waterproof zippers to keep water out. Some panniers also feature external pockets and reflective accents for added convenience and visibility.
Waterproof Backpack or Messenger Bag: If you prefer cycling with a backpack or messenger bag, choose one made from waterproof materials with a built-in rain cover. These bags should also have padded straps and back panels to ensure a comfortable fit while riding. Additional features like external pockets, reflective accents, and attachment points for lights can further enhance their functionality.
Waterproof Pouches and Phone Cases: To protect your phone, wallet, and other essentials, invest in waterproof pouches or phone cases. These can be easily stored in your pannier, backpack, or even your jersey pocket. Look for pouches with airtight closures or waterproof zippers, as well as transparent windows that allow you to use your touchscreen devices without removing them from the case.
- Use waterproof panniers for ample storage space on your bike
- Choose a waterproof backpack or messenger bag with a built-in rain cover
- Protect your essentials with waterproof pouches or phone cases
Use Chamois Cream to dodge chafing from soggy shorts
Rainy rides (and soaking wet bike shorts) can make chafing more of an issue – as your clothes become soggier your skin is exposed to more friction. This is where chamois cream comes to the rescue. Applying chamois cream before your ride can help reduce friction, minimize discomfort, and prevent saddle sores.
If you’re new to chamois cream, don’t worry – it’s super easy to use. Simply apply a generous amount to your chamois pad and/or the skin where you’re prone to chafing, and you’re good to go. Remember, a little chamois cream can make a huge difference in your comfort level during a wet ride. Oh, and go commando – padded bike shorts are designed to be worn directly against your skin, no underwear required.
To minimize chafing and discomfort during wet rides, consider the following tips for using chamois cream:
Choose the Right Chamois Cream: Chamois creams come in various formulas, including those with natural ingredients, such as shea butter or aloe vera, and others with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Experiment with different brands and types to find the one that works best for you.
Apply Generously: When applying chamois cream, be liberal with the amount you use. It’s better to have too much than not enough, as it will wear off over time during your ride.
Reapply as Needed: For longer rides, you may need to reapply chamois cream during your journey. Pack a travel-sized container in your waterproof storage solution to ensure you have it on hand when needed.
Clean Your Chamois: After your ride, be sure to wash your cycling shorts thoroughly to remove any remaining chamois cream and bacteria. Regularly cleaning and properly caring for your chamois can help prolong its lifespan and ensure it remains comfortable for future rides.
- Choose a chamois cream that suits your needs and preferences
- Apply generously before your ride to reduce friction and prevent chafing
- Reapply as needed during long rides, and always clean your chamois after use
Use a Peaked Cycling Cap or Headband to Keep the Rain from Dripping in Your Eyes
There’s nothing more annoying than rain dripping into your eyes while you’re trying to focus on the road ahead. That’s why I never hit the road on a rainy day without my trusty peaked cycling cap. The peak helps keep rain out of your eyes, while the cap itself can also provide some extra warmth and insulation.
If you’re not a fan of caps, a headband or sweatband can also do the trick. Just make sure it’s made of a moisture-wicking material that will stay comfortable even when wet.
Rain dripping into your eyes can be a significant distraction and even a safety hazard during a wet ride. And, on that note, it’s best to leave the sunglasses at home when it’s raining. Why? Well, unless they’ve got integrated windshield wipers, you’ll rapidly lose visibility as droplets stick to the lenses and dribble down. That’s dangerous and, in conditions like that, it’s best to take off the sunglasses and rely on nature’s own wipers – your eyelids.
- Wear a peaked cycling cap under your helmet to shield your eyes from raindrops
- Opt for a moisture-wicking headband to keep rain and sweat out of your eyes
- Leave the sunglasses at home
Carry a Hot Drink with You (In a Flask or Travel Mug) for a Shot of Warmth
One of my favorite rainy ride hacks (particularly for making damp bike commutes more fun) is bringing along a hot drink in a flask or travel mug. When the rain is coming down and the temperature drops, there’s nothing like a shot of warmth to keep your spirits high and your body warm. Plus, it gives you something to look forward to during those tough moments when you’re questioning why you decided to ride in the rain in the first place.
Choose your favorite hot beverage – coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or even a hot soup – and enjoy a well-deserved break during your ride. Just remember to make sure your flask or travel mug is leak-proof, so you don’t end up with a soggy backpack!
- Choose an insulated, leak-proof flask or travel mug to keep your beverage hot
- Preheat your container before filling it with your preferred hot drink
- Store your flask securely on your bike or in your waterproof storage solution