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Is it ok to ride in the rain?(19 posts)

Is it ok to ride in the rain?SSgt Jeremy in Germany
Jun 17, 2001 7:51 AM
Were I live we get lots of rain, and as you can see by my post below, I am about to buy my first road bike. I know if I ride in the rain I will have to grease and lube the bike more, but as long as I do that, nothing will be damaged by doing this, will it? Or do all road riders stay at home when there's a light rain/drizzle? Thanks for any responses.
re: Is it ok to ride in the rain?Lazy
Jun 17, 2001 9:15 AM
Some like riding in the rain, some don't. The main concerns (for me) when riding in the rain are stopping distance and flats.

The stopping distance increases for obvious reasons. For maximum braking efficiency in the rain I will squeeze the brakes lightly for a sec to dry off the rims, release, then apply braking pressure.

Flat frequency goes up dramatically in the rain due to sharp stuff sticking to your tires more. To help avoid flats, avoid puddles,
gutters, and other areas where sharpies might congregate as much as possible.

When you're done with your wet ride, make sure to clean/re-lube the bike promptly. Especially the chain/cassette/chain rings/rear der. Dirt and muck caught in the drive train will rapidly decrease the life expectancy of your parts.

One of LA's best statements, IMO, was that he realized that to be on top of the heap he would have to train when his competition was at home on the couch. I.E. when the weather is crappy.

Have fun!
I agree to a degree.boy nigel
Jun 17, 2001 11:06 AM

I've read that Lance statement; telling, for sure, and makes solid sense--seems to work for him, too!

My only problem with it: Does LA have to clean/grease/lube his own bike after such a nasty, wet, long ride? I'm sure he's plenty capable of doing so, but likely there's a mechanic or scrub-person who'll deal with the nastiness of getting his bike looking/acting cleanly and smoothly again after he gunks it up big-time over a long, wet haul. I'd never miss a ride due to rain if I had a perfectly clean, smooth bike for every ride--with someone else to do the endless crud-detail on it.

I actually enjoy riding in the rain, and feel fairly refreshed in it (and even feel like I ride faster, for some reason--maybe it keeps me cooler). As much as I enjoy routine maintenance on my bike (cleaning, lubing, greasing), a post-rainy-ride degunking takes a long time, gets my small city flat fairly cruddy (the floor, at least), and can try my patience. Because I'm good at keeping it well-lubed and shiny regularly, having to do SO much extra for only one ride doesn't always seem worth it. As well, the extra scrubbing/degreasing of my clothing is a pain, too. My shoes can take up to an extra day or two to dry as well. Yuck! If only I had a washer/dryer in my apartment! :)

Anyone else hate post-rainy-ride scrub-downs the way I do?

Happy rides--even in the wet stuff,
Re: bike lust?cyclopathic
Jun 17, 2001 1:52 PM
clean your bike with Pedros Bike Lust and you don't have to work as hard, it just doesn't stick to paint/tires etc!

I see your pain but hey ir you ride mnt bikes in East Cost no rainy road ride would compare to one muddy ride IMHO. With mnt bikes I have seen people using garden sprayer in parking lot just spray it (and if you used Bike Lust that's all you need), then strap to bike carrier, allaz.
I agree to a degree.Randyf
Jun 17, 2001 10:07 PM
I commute year round in Seattle and for the most part I don't bother with "post-rainy ride scrub-downs". Why bother,in 8-12 hrs I'll be riding in the rain again. Sometimes if I won't be riding for a day or two I will hose the frame down, taking care not to spray the huds or BB directly.
Don't get me wrong ... I'm not recommending this. It's the way I do things. I would love to say that I clean and take really good care of my bike, but I really like to ride a bike not maintain it.
Riding in the rain has other benefits like fewer people on the bike trail that I ride on. If the temp is close to 50 degrees or above its not too bad
dislike post-rain cleanup also...shoe alternative...Haiku d'état
Jun 18, 2001 8:38 AM
one wet-shoe solution is to get a pair for rainy days, which--if ya get 'em with a little extra space--can also double as cold-weather riding shoes (with double socks or a nice pair of plastic baggies between layers). my pair is an old shimano with two velcro closures on, black and mostly tan/brown, one of the ugliest pairs of mid-late 90s shoes i've ever seen.

there's no quick fix for cleaning your bike post-ride. i'm suffering for not doing so, however, as the inside of a few of the hex bolts (seat clamp, etc.) have sprouted a touch of rust. i'll clean and candle-wax 'em soon...
re: yescyclopathic
Jun 17, 2001 9:29 AM
just be careful on turns/traffic lights/stop signs.
A bit of oil and you'll wash out (I flew yesterday, oach!).. be very careful using brakes, slow down on downhills, turns etc. Get tires with good wet traction.

I'd recommend getting some rain gear (helmet covers, rain jacket/pants/, Gortec socks, shoe covers, etc). But if temperature is in 70-90deg range and you warmed up you won't need any extra layer. @ 20-30mph rain drops feel like shower powerhead LOL

Fenders are the nice touch for touring and centuries. Zefal makes set you can install/remove in 5min.
It is not OK to NOT ride in the rain!Humma Hah
Jun 17, 2001 10:01 AM
Some road riders do avoid the rain. That's understandable in Southern California, where such a policy may cost you 2-3 rides a year.

It is OK to not ride in the rain if it is pouring cats and dogs and hailstones and expected to do so all day.

But skipping a ride on the chance that it might rain, in most temperate areas, will cost you much riding, and get you into the habit of making excuses not to ride.

Here's my scale of bad riding conditions:

10. Ice on the roads. Impossible. Suicidal.
9. Hot, humid day and a steep mountain.
5. Cold and rainy and windy.
3. Raining.
1. A perfect day.
My listRay Sachs
Jun 17, 2001 12:59 PM
I don't mind riding on icy roads for the most part. I commute year round and deep snow gets to be a problem but I'd have to miss quite a bit of winter commuting if I drove every time there was ice on the roads. I ride knobby tires and I take it real easy, particularly around corners. I obviously give myself a LOT of stopping distance. Next winter I'll probably get a set of studded tires for my cross bike, which should make it easier yet. Riding a fixed gear works really well in slick conditions too.

I don't mind rain either, but lightning scares the crap out of me. If a thunderstorm comes up while I'm riding, I find shelter as quickly as possible. Nothing like riding through an open field atop a piece of metal tubing during an electrical storm.

I strongly recommend keeping a spare bike that can handle a set of FULL fenders (not the little clip ons that do about 20% of the job). In addition to keeping you dry, full fenders are much better for your drivetrain, keeping most of the road gunk off of it. Just a quick wipedown and chainlube when I get home takes care of the maintenance.

With full fenders and decent rain gear, I find riding in the rain to be pretty pleasant, particularly in warmer weather. Just take it easier cornering, watch for flats, etc. I find that drivers actually give me more room when it's raining - I don't know whether it's respect or they figure I'm totally crazy (I can guess), but they usually give me a lot of room.

-Ray "rain isn't bad, but cold windy rain isn't much fun" Sachs
I hate rainDog
Jun 17, 2001 12:39 PM
yes, hate. To me, it's miserable, really mucks up the bike, and is dangerous.

I don't like being cold. Wetness usually means cold, too.

The bike gets really nasty. Plus, it seems like it always picks up a lot of road grit along with the water, which chews up your chain and gears, and it hard to wash off all the nooks can crannies.

It's more dangerous, as your traction is greatly reduced, and so is visability, to see and be seen.

You gotta carry or wear a lot of extra rain stuff, and if it stops raining and you don't remove it, you bake.

I live in a desert. I can afford to hate the rain. Reminds me of something, though. Death Valley gets around 2 inches of rain in an entire year. I was there for 4 days, and got rained and hailed on (ain't no shelter around, either). What are the odds?

increased component wear...C-40
Jun 17, 2001 1:13 PM
I try to avoid riding in the rain if at all possible. Even the best of sealed bearings can get water in them, resulting in a quick demise.

The grit carried in the water from the rain grinds away chains, cogs and rear derailleurs a lot faster.

Then there's the ruined socks and maybe a permanently spotted jersey.

Then there's the hour or more to clean up the bike when you get home.

What fun!
There's nothing like rain...MikeC
Jun 17, 2001 1:34 PM
...if you're a genuine "soul" rider. There's no bike-fashion-police, nobody caring whether you wave, don't wave, or have properly-shaved legs. There's just your body, your thoughts, and your bike. It's a great way to get "in the zone."
Yes, you need to be aware of traffic, road conditions, handling differences, and bike maintenance. But fifty or a hundred miles in the rain can take you away from the "real" world like very few other legally-permissable options!
Are spray bottles of water okay to clean with?Groucho Marx
Jun 17, 2001 3:56 PM
I use a fine misty spray of water on my bike. Low pressure. This makes it really easy to wipe away the grit. And then I oil. But this won't ruin anything, will it.
Nothing like a nice warm showerRich Clark
Jun 17, 2001 5:36 PM
As a commuter I ride in the rain frequently. Of course, I have a touring bike set up with fenders and waterprook panniers, and that bike has kevlar-belted slicks (Specialized Nimus EX 700x35c), but still... there's a special feeling to riding through a summer shower that's magnified if the sun happens to come out while you're still riding.

That said, I can see why somebody riding 23's on a training ride might be unenthusiastic about rain riding. But you won't hurt your bike if you dry it off and lube the steel parts afterwards (I keep an old handheld hair blower handy), and you won't hurt yourself if you remember to allow for longer stoppping distances, for how slippery loose leaves are when they're wet, for oil slicks, for potholes disguised as puddles, and for reduced visibility. An LED blinkie is advisable on dark days.

Nothing like a nice warm showercasati_rider
Jun 18, 2001 7:19 AM
I agree Rich, but I don't use fenders, nothing like that dirty streak running up your back. ;-)
re: Is it ok to ride in the rain?casati_rider
Jun 18, 2001 7:12 AM
When I was in Germany, I rode all the time in the rain. Funny thing is that alot of those rainy days over there are so light you don't even get wet. If memory serves me right, it rained about 15 - 18 days a month and mostly light rains. I found the temps in the summer even in rain were great to ride in. Most of the time all I had to do was wipe off the water spots and lube the chain. It was alot easier for me to keep a bike up over there in the rain than it is a home where I get caught in downpours all the time. A good bike and good components will hold up, just don't pressure wash your bike. I will recommend that you have more than one good pair of shoes so that wet ones have a day or two to dry out.
Just don't leave the cake out...mr_spin
Jun 18, 2001 9:05 AM
I won't set out in rain or if it is obviously going to rain, but if it happens to rain while I'm out, I'm not going to stop. My friends and I become radar junkies in winter, watching the weather channel constantly, so we don't get surprised very often.
Dry Your Shoes Overnight!!MisJG
Jun 18, 2001 9:10 AM
I agree with the other posters about the cautions and things to avoid with wet weather riding. On long, multiple day rides, riding in the rain is sometimes unavoidable. My rule for general training rides where I am leaving my house and coming back home at the end of the ride: "I won't start a ride in the rain, but I won't stop a ride because of it either." ONE EXCEPTION - LIGHTNING. If I am out riding and it begins to rain, I will continue on my ride unless I see lightning. I remember swimming at public pools when I was a kid and the lifguards would let you keep swimming in the rain until the first sign of lightning, then they would make you get out. It's a good rule to follow. Anyway, back to the point of my post:
DRYING YOUR SHOES OVERNIGHT is so easy, you won't believe it works until you try it. Set your soaking wet shoes in front of a fan. Open them up as much as you can (loosen the laces, etc.) and lay them on their side so the air from the fan can blow into them. That's it! Do this when you get home from your ride and they will be dry by morning!
I was on a three day ride called PACRACC with two friends one year. PACRACC is/was a 220 (aprox) mile ride that takes/took place over Labor Day weekend in central Illinois (i don't know if the ride still exists. Please let me know if it does!). It was a wet weekend that year, raining every day, all day. After the first day, we got back to my friends house (he lived in the area, so we didn't have to camp, we just went back to his house every night) with our soaking wet gear. One of my friends was complaining about starting the next day's ride with wet shoes. I told them I had used a fan to dry my shoes before, but neither one believed it would work. So my other friend said "No problem, I'll take care of it" and took a hair dryer, stuck it in his shoe, and turned it on to let it run. This lasted about ten minutes until the hair dryer literally burned out!! Having no alternative, they tried my suggestion. We set up all three pairs of shoes in front of a box fan and let it blow on them all night. Behold! The next morning, all the shoes were dry and I had made believers out of my friends.
Sorry for the long post, but the topic of riding in the rain brought back some good memories. My friends and I wouldn't let anything stop us. "Body Bags Before We SAG" was our motto. Even survived "Saggy Thursday" on RAGBRAI 1995, but that's another story. Once I got started typing, I just couldn't stop.
No fan...Stampertje
Jun 18, 2001 2:45 PM
...but I usually stuff wet shoes with some loosely packed old newspaper as soon as I get home. Change once before bed and they're fine by morning.