The Do’s And Don’ts Of Riding In The Rain

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 25

Its raining, and pouring, and certainly somewhere the old man is snoring, so here is a little guide for riding in the rain.

Do ride in the rain:
Riding in the rain is fun, and refreshing, and with the right mindset can be amazingly fun. You don’t have to ride in the rain, but if you choose to, you can do so comfortably, and remain dry.

Do wear the proper gear:

If you are going to go splashing around in the rain, wear the right gear.

Rain pants, check
Rain jacket, check
Waterproof shoes, check
Fenders, check
waterproof bag, check
change of clothes, check
small towel to dry face off, check

With the right gear you can ride your bicycle comfortably through anything…anything. There is no such thing as bad weather, only poor clothing choices. On a warmish day you can ride in the rain in shorts and a t-shirt and change when you get to where you are going, or on a horribly cold rainy day you might want to wear a full rain suit. Some people also like bike ponchos. I also can’t say enough good things about fenders, they will totally keep all that road gunk off you and the bike.

A good waterproof bag to put your stuff in is also helpful, as you will know your cell phone wont get destroyed on the way to work, and if you do want to bring a change of clothes it is nice to keep them dry as well. Waterproof shoes are key to keeping the toes nice and happy, some people like the gortex socks, or the waterproof shoes, just remember not to tuck your rain pants into your shoe or the water will funnel down your pants into your shoe creating a little pond for you to walk around in.

I usually just wear a cycling hat under my helmet, the brim helps keep rain out of my eyes, and the hat keeps the water mostly off my hair. If you are really worried about getting your head wet, you can get helmet covers that are waterproof.

Do ride with your lights on:

Just like in a a car, you will be safer if you have your lights on in the rain. Combined with some good reflectors a bright set of lights (red in the back, white in the front) will allow people to see you better in low visibility situations. Even during the middle of the day, turn them lights on.

Don’t make sharp turns:
In the rain things get slippery, making sharp turns on your bike in the rain is a good way to crash your bike. Try to turn slowly while staying as upright as possible.

Do give yourself more time to stop:
Wet brakes take longer to stop than dry ones, give yourself a lot of extra space to slow down. You will often need 10-12 feet of extra space before you brakes even start to work, plan accordingly.

Don’t go too fast:
See above, if you are going fast, and your brakes take you longer to stop…well you can fill in the rest.

Do be extra careful when cycling over utility hole covers, railroad tracks, metal plates, expansion joints, or thermo-plastic road markings (crosswalks etc):

In the rain utility hole covers and any other metal object on the road gets extremely slippery. Try to go around them if you can. If you must cycle over them do so in a straight line and at lower speed. This will allow you to maintain balance. Be very careful when making turns over anything metal, or thermo-plastic road markings, during turning these already hazardous objects pose an even greater threat of spilling you.

also, ditch the umbrella when riding, both hands on the bars please.

Don’t ride through the deep puddles:

While I know it might be tempting to splash through all the puddles, try to avoid the big ones. You never know what is lurking at the bottom. Could be a bit of dirt, or it might be a ten inch deep pothole that just formed from the rain and will swallow your front wheel whole. Or their might be an alligator…either way avoid the deep ones.

(personal story: Riding in Dorchester last year I fell into a puddle so deep that my front tire got stuck in it and it threw me over the handle bars into the street. I was lucky though because the water was over a foot deep, and I splashed wetly but harmlessly into a kiddie pool sized puddle of water.)

Do be careful if you wear glasses:

Rain can collect on your glasses and prevent visibility, there are various products you can get to help with this, but I like the old, rub it with your finger if it gets too bad method.

Do take good care of your bike:

Riding in the rain is fun, but can wash all the lube off your chain, and water can seep into places it shouldn’t. I suggest you bring your bike inside after a rain storm so it can dry off fully. Also be sure to wipe down your chain to get all the road grime off, then re-lube with a chain lubricant. Wiping down your bike with a towel is another way to keep it dry happy and clean in between rain rides. Or another option is to have a “rain bike” that is an older bike that you don’t care as much about that you only bring out in the winter, or for big rain storms.

And finally,

Do say howdy to every other cyclist you see in the rain:

A nice smile and “great day for a bike ride” goes a long way in making someone have a great ride in the rain, be sure to share a smile and a nod with every other rider you see out there. They are in the same club as you, and if it is a truly nasty day, that little smile can go a long way to helping them get to their destination feeling great.

Have fun out there!

Do you have some tips and tricks for riding in the rain, anything I missed, got any questions? Hit the comments.


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6 Responses to “The Do’s And Don’ts Of Riding In The Rain”

  1. By William on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Great tips! I’ve been riding in the rain the past couple of days and found out that my cycling jacket isn’t as waterproof as it used to be. I think it needs to be cleaned and treated with DWR again.

    I also had trouble for the first time with those metal utility plates (crossing Comm Ave). I was standing while pedaling when my back wheel hit one and I almost lost my balance in the intersection. Pretty scary.

    Aside from that, it’s been nice. Plenty of bike parking at school. I have a great picture of my bike and filthy waterproof bag as the only things at the racks which are usually totally full. I get a kick out of the comments I get from people, too.

  2. By Marianna on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    I guess you might suggest putting a bag over your saddle. Something I did not do today =(. And your plastic bags in the shoes trick! (in between two layers of socks, or just outside one layer – get prepared to look dorky)

  3. By Andres Salomon on Aug 26, 2010 | Reply

    As Marianna said, plastic bags on the *insides* of your shoes… not the *outsides*. If you just wrap your whole foot in a bag, the bottom of your foot will wear through the bag when you stop (assuming you’re not doing track stands at every stop). Once your bag has a hole, water will collect inside and slosh around. Not fun.

  4. By Ernest Boyer on Dec 4, 2014 | Reply

    I would like to purchase a rain shield.

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