At certain times of the year, you will have to venture out in the rain if you don’t want to stay cooped up indoors. If you’re a racer, riding in the rain is a good idea, since you never know when you’ll end up racing in the rain.
The good news is, riding in the rain can be a ton of fun! The bad news is, rain and road debris do a number on your bicycle!
So here are 10 tips to keep your road bike in good condition when you ride in inclement weather:
1. Use fenders
Running a set of fenders on your bike will keep mud and dirty water off your clothes and out of your eyes, and they’ll limit the amount of dirt that ends up on your bike.
If you ride a mountain bike, you can get fenders that attach to your fork and seatpost. If you have a road racing bike, you can get a set of fenders like the SKS Raceblade, which use rubber straps to attach to your frame and fork.
2. A post-ride rinse and dry
As soon as you finish a ride in nasty conditions, give your bike a quick rinse with fresh water and then towel dry. This will rinse off all the dirt and debris, and drying it will prevent rust.
This should take less than five minutes, so do it as soon as you get home. (And it’s better to do this before you shower, anyway.)
3. Lube chain with waterproof lube
Make sure you have a good lube on your chain before heading out in the rain. Dumonde Tech Lite is a very good choice for wet conditions.
If you’re using a thinner lube (usually called a “dry lube”) it will wash off quickly when exposed to water. That will lead to more wear and tear on the entire drivetrain, and your chain will rust shortly after the ride.
4. Pour wax in bolt heads
Don’t you hate those rust spots in your hex bolts? Water just loves to pool in there and rust the bolt.
But there’s an easy way to prevent that. Just drip a little White Lightning or Boeshield T9 (or other wax-based lube) in your hex bolt heads. This shields the bolt from standing water but leaves enough room to easily use a hex wrench to tighten or loosen the bolt.
5. Clean your rims and brake pads thoroughly
Next to the drive train, the brake pads are the most important part to keep clean during the rainy season. What happens is your rims pick up grit from the road, and when you use your brakes, some of that grit gets embedded in the pad.
Then when you apply the brakes, it’s like you’re grinding away at your rims!
So you want to clean your brake pads after each ride. Wipe them off and pick out any debris.
Also, the brake pads will wear faster due to the grit, so pay close attention and replace the pads before they’re worn out. (If they’re old, you could easily wear through them in one ride.)
6. Switch to a cheaper seat or use a seat cover
You definitely don’t want to ruin your $350 leather saddle by getting it soaking wet and dirty! If you’ll be out in the rain often, you may want to invest in a cheaper version of your preferred saddle.
Or, spend $10 for a waterproof saddle cover.
7. Grease metal on metal areas (especially your seatpost)
Greasing your bolt threads, seatpost, and other parts is routine maintenance, but it is even more important when you’re subjecting your bike to bad weather.
Without that thin layer of grease, you’re going to get a thin layer of water on all those metal surfaces, which means they’re going to rust together! So make sure everything is greased.
8. Invest in sealed bearings
Unsealed bearings in your hubs, headset, and bottom bracket require more maintenance than sealed bearings. That’s not a huge deal in good weather, but if you’re riding in wet weather, you will be doing a lot of extra maintenance to keep the bearings packed with fresh grease.
So if you don’t wish to overhaul your hubs on a weekly basis, you should probably invest in sealed bearings.
9. Don’t ride through deep water
Whether on or off-road, if you ride through deep water, it could seep right into your hubs and bottom bracket bearings. (That’s the difference between water dripping on your hub and having your hubs submerged!)
This advice is mainly for mountain bikers who deal with stream crossings, but certain roads that don’t drain well could certainly have hub-deep water on the shoulder! (Not to mention, standing water is a safety hazard.)
10. Don’t use your race tires, unless it’s actually a race
If you’re racing in wet weather, by all means, run your Michelin Pro3 Race or Pro Grip tires for the best traction.
But for training rides, there is no point to subject your expensive tires to roads that have had tons of debris washed out onto them. Instead, use your older race tires or some thicker, heavier tires designed for durability.
If you follow all these tips and do a little more routine maintenance, you’ll be able to ride in the rain without all the extra hassle!
For more advice on riding in the rain, read “8 Safety Tips for Riding in the Rain.”
Photo credit: miks pix