9 Simple Tips for Biking in the Rain

Seat-cover

We know that riding in the rain can be a little tricky, so our staff here at the SF Bicycle Coalition thought we’d share our tips for making a wet commute a little more enjoyable and comfortable.

 What to Wear:

  • Layer up – As a base layer, it’s great to wear something to keep you warm that can also breathe. A synthetic fabric, wool, or fleece are great options.
  • Stay dry – On top of your base layer, throw on a waterproof jacket or poncho, rain pants, and waterproof boots or shoes. Your hands will also get cold, so a nice pair of water-resistant gloves are great.
  • Be visible – People driving and walking in wet weather often have a harder time seeing things in the road. Bright colors and reflective materials are an awesome way to increase your visibility.
  • Protect your cargo – If you are biking with some of your belongings on you, use a waterproof bag, pannier/saddle bag, or backpack to keep your stuff dry. A cheap solution is to wrap your things in a plastic bag to keep water out.
  • Put a cap on it – To keep your head dry, you probably want to put a rain cover over your helmet. A shower cap is an inexpensive and “stylish” solution.

Your Bike:

  • Be seen – For lawful and safe biking in the rain, use plenty of lights so people driving and walking can see you. A front white light, red rear light, and side lights or reflectors are recommended.
  • Stay clean – Fenders are great for both keeping water from splashing on you while you ride and also keep dirt from getting into your chain.

How to Ride:

  • Slow down – When you’re bking in wet weather your brakes are less effective than on a sunny day. Take it a little slower than you normally do and give yourself enough time to come to a complete stop.
  • Avoid hazards – Metal surfaces, road imperfections, and painted surfaces can become slippery in wet weather. So be especially mindful when crossing over train tracks, metal grates or sewer covers, and even bike lane markings. When you ride over them, keep your feet in a “neutral” position (both feet even on the pedals at the 3 and 9 o’clock position), take some of your weight off the seat by lifting your butt up, and stop pedaling to maintain balance.

While biking in the rain isn’t for everyone, if you take some simple steps to get more comfortable, it’s not as daunting as it may seem. These are just some of the tips we recommend and everyone has their own preferences. If you have some ideas you’d like to share, email eric@sfbike.org and we can share it on our site. Remember with your SF Bicycle Coalition membership card you can get discounts on the gear you need for biking in wet weather. If you’re not a current member, join today and start cashing in on discounts all over town.

Here are two great videos for biking in wet weather.

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