Hint: It’s all about the gear.
Staying dry on the bike is all about having the right gear before you start out. Always carry a racing cape to protect you from unexpected showers. For anything more serious you’re going to need to splash out on some specialist wet weather gear. Thankfully nowadays there is state-of-the-art clothing and accessories available at affordable prices. Who knows, with the right protection you might even start to look forward to riding in the rain.
Breathable clothing is worth the investment. Otherwise you will avoid the rain, but quickly become wet from the inside as sweat builds up.
If it’s warm rain you can ride without gloves, riding with wet feet and spongy socks is no fun at all. Layer with separate waterproof and neoprene layers.
Wet hands can be slippery on the bars and the brakes. Water-repellent gloves with enhanced rubber grip will come in very handy.
Glasses with clear lenses are an essential part of your winter kit. Road spray is full of grit and pollutants and daily exposure can damage your eyes, not to mention making it harder to see.
Cycling in the rain is so much more bearable if you can keep the rain off your face. The classic peaked cycling cap does the job perfectly. It will fit under your helmet and keep your head warm as well.
No winter bike is complete without mudguards. There are quick clip-on ones, or go for full coverage if you’re looking ahead at a long wet winter. In fact, you’ll know you’re getting serious about wet weather riding when you add mudflaps made from some old cycling bottles.
Wet weather is dark weather. Even if you’re not riding at night you’ll need lights. Drivers have poor visibility through water-streaked windscreens so keep yourself safe with powerful front and back lights and bright clothing with reflective parts. Black kit might be in fashion but it’s not safe.
Step up your protection with a heavier chain lube. The lightweight summer oil will get washed away in a quick shower. Especially if you’re riding in winter on salted roads, you need all the protection you can get.
One last thing to prepare before you head out is where you will dry your bike when you get back. Preparing for your next ride starts as soon as you get off the bike and you can make your life easier by establishing a simple post-ride routine. Especially if you’re commuting in the winter and need to dry gear every day.
- Dirty clothes go straight in the washing machine
- Have an area for drying items that you’ll need to use again without washing, such as shoes, overshoes, helmet, etc.
- Wet shoes take the longest to dry. Speed up the drying process with newspaper inside, but change it a few times.
- Store your bike in the house if possible rather than in a cold garage, to prevent rust.
- Oil the chain. Clean your bike and oil it regularly to prevent rust.
- Recharge your lights straightaway before you forget.
Here are some final tips for staying safe outside:
- Let 10 PSI out of your tyres to improve grip.
- Plan your route to avoid big climbs and cold, dangerous descents.
- If you’re not commuting, stay on a loop close to home.
- Braking is harder in the wet. Stay safe.