Wet Weather? No Problem! A Short Guide to Biking in the Rain

There is no such thing as "bad biking weather", just ask those happy folks cycling around rainy Portland, snowy Minneapolis or rainy Oakland every day!

There is no such thing as "bad biking weather," just ask those happy folks cycling around rainy Portland or snowy Minneapolis every day of the year! Let's take a look at how they do it, while staying stylish and still arriving at home or work in warm, dry socks.

Riding safely and comfortably in the rain is relatively easy using some common sense, preparation, and a bit of additional gear.

On your body:

  • A synthetic or wool (non-cotton) base layer (underclothes) will keep any sweat from sticking.
  • A wool or fleece (again, non-cotton) outer layer (shirt or sweater) will breathe but keep you warm in cold temperatures.
  • A waterproof jacket or rain cape will keep the water out, but avoid hoods that cover your ears and keep you from hearing traffic noise.
  • Waterproof rain pants and boots or shoe covers will keep you dry from all of the water that your tires will splash up from the roadway.
  • Day-glo and bright colors are especially important in dim but not dark conditions.
  • A waterproof bag, pannier, or backpack will ensure that all of your valuables stay dry even if you don't.

Alternately, if it is rainy but not too cold you can ride in quick drying, synthetic biking gear but carry a change of clothes in a waterproof bag or pannier. Once at work you can then towel off and change into your work clothes, then by the end of the day your bike gear is (mostly) dry and ready for you to ride home in!

On your bike:

  • Highly recommended: Plenty of bright lights AND reflectors to the front, rear, and sides of your bike (even during the day!).
  • Fenders on your front and rear wheels will keep water on the road from splashing up onto you. Longer, "full" fenders will also prevent some dirt and grit from getting into your chain and gears, keeping things running smoothly.


Things to know:

  • Bike brakes are much less effective when wet. Take it slower than normal and give yourself LOTS more time to stop.
  • Metal, painted, and brick surfaces in the roadway can become very slippery during and after the rain. This means watch out for train tracks, manholes, bike lane markings, etc. When you cross over them keep your handlebars straight, not turning, to avoid a slip.
  • Hands and feet get the coldest when biking, if wet and unprotected. If you plan to bike more than just a couple miles in the rain, make sure both are covered with waterproof and well insulated material.
  • Beware of bike-eating puddles! Even little ones can hide nasty things like potholes, nails, or glass, which can cause a flat tire or a crash.
  • After your ride, take some time to wipe water and dirt off the metal bike wheel rims, front and back. This will ensure that the brakes are still effective the next time you take your bike out.
  • Also wipe water off the chain after a rain ride, and squirt on a little bike lubricant if possible. This prevents rust from building up on the chain, extending its life.

Most importantly, don't worry about getting a little wet and don't let the rain keep you from having fun on your bike! With the exception of some wicked witches, most humans are water-resistant and will get through it just fine. Every rain biker has their own routine and preferences, so feel free to experiment and see what works for you. If you find a great new product or have a great tip for biking in the rain let us know about it so we can share with the rest of the EBBC community. Happy biking!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Michael Taylor April 07, 2012 at 08:19 PM
17yo speeding in an SUV. God help him if he has a conscience. If he's a lowlife, he'll do his time and be back out on the road.
Stephanie A. April 08, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Here is the link to the Concord Patch article. http://concord-ca.patch.com/articles/nine-year-old-and-father-killed-by-speeding-car-another-injured This happened outside of my neighbourhood, and , in fact, I was in this shopping center with my sister at the time. My comments are posted on this article and I'll repeat some of them here: first, no adult driver is innocent of driving irrisposibly at some point. You can probably think of the last time you did something iffy in your car pretty quickly, you just weren't in the wrong place at the wrong time when you did it, so judge not lest ye be judged. And second, the only people who really have the right to express anger and vitriol are the family of those lost and the driver at himself. Reports are that he stayed, standing by his car. He looked to be in shock. He called a friend that lived close and told him that he thought he may have killed someone. I teach in Dublin. I give this boy, because he may look like an adult but we all know that at 17 they are still children, the same benefit of the doubt and faith in his character that I would, and do, give yours, and since it is Easter I will take this opportunity to remind everyone that there but for the grace of God go I, be it in the shoes of the father and two children hit, OR the driver of the car.
Rick Schiller April 09, 2012 at 04:48 AM
The driver has nothing to be angry about. Is he angry because he wrecked his giant SUV or his apparent cell phone use was interrupted because he was driving too fast and rolled into a group of cyclists on the sidewalk, killing two! Your insinuation that somehow his standing by his car and being in shock lessens the severity of what he has done is absurd.
Ramon April 19, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Thanks for the extra tips as a daily commuter by bike its nice to hear professional advice and tips that I may not have thought of. I ride a bike like this daily http://www.2wheelbikes.com/se-draft-10-dirty-gold-road-bike.html
Nico Seely August 15, 2012 at 12:12 AM
Bikebrella http://www.quirky.com/ideations/281699


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