When the rain is coming down sideways it can be quite hard to handle the bike. Even if it’s cleared up but the roads are left wet, there are plenty of things you need to consider. Much like stopping distances in a car – you’ll need to adapt the way you ride your bike in the rain. We’ve listed a few top tips below.
We’ve all been there, caught out in the rain wearing far less kit than we should be. Everyone knows that when you get wet everything gets a lot colder. Whether it pierces through your gloves, soaks your feet or chills your whole body – if you can keep yourself dry – it’ll make a huge difference to your riding.
Being warm will give you far more control over the bike – so checking the weather before you ride can make all the difference. Whether it’s an extra base layer – or a high quality outer layer – make sure you’re prepared for what mother nature throws at you.
Your stopping distances are massively reduced when it’s wet on the ground – especially if you’re riding a rim brake bike. Make sure that you anticipate when you’re going to need to brake or stop and do all your braking before you hit the corner. If you brake too much while you’re leaning into the corner the wheels could lock up.
Often when the brakes are wet they can be quite slippery and not always engage instantly. A top tip can be to occasionally pull the levers slightly to clear the rims ready for when you do need to come to a stop.
Descending can be scary at the best of times. Narrow roads, tight corners & loose surfaces can all have a big impact on a descent. A lot of the time the key is being confident and staying relaxed. Allow yourself to ride smoothly without tensing up.
This is where disc brakes really make a huge difference – carbon rim brakes aren’t much use in the wet and a lot of us will have heard the squeal of carbon wheels trying to stop in a hurry. Make sure you wrap up to descend as often you can get very cold due to the combination of water & wind.
Cornering can be hard to come to terms with in the dry, but in the wet there is much less room for error. Decide your line and stick to it, be confident and relaxed in your choice. Start wider and take a softer line so that you’re not leaning into the corner too much, keeping your centre of gravity through the wheels and not out over the road. This will really help to keep the bike grounded.
Make sure you’re upright enough to begin your exit, if you get on the pedals too fast you could cause the back end of the bike to slide. Try to avoid painted lines and manhole covers when cornering, these will often be incredibly slippy.
Riding in a group takes more care than when you’re out by yourself, because you have to look after the people around you as well as yourself. A great start can be a mudguard to keep the spray out of the eyes of the person following you. Sitting slightly back from the wheel in front can give you a lot more reaction time and allow you to see what’s coming up.
Don’t let the rain put you off riding, by allowing a little more time and anticipation you’ll be able to keep safe. Being able to use the brakes gently rather than in a hurry will make all the difference.