Here Are Ten Tips For Biking In The Rain
(Photo by Mikey Wally via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
Just because it's raining doesn't mean you have to hop in your car. We dug through the research and talked to representatives from some of L.A.'s best bike shops to put together some tips and tricks for staying dry and safe while biking in the rain.
Make Sure Your Tires Are In Shape
Everyone we spoke with stressed the importance of making sure that you're riding with good tires that have tread. "I know too many people that have bikes with tires that are just waiting to get a flat, or riding with tire pressure thats too low," T.J. Flexer, owner of Orange20 Bikes, told LAist. "Any one of these things is going to slow down a car and possibly lead to an altercation. Having the right-sized tire and wheel allows you to go as fast as a car travels, and not be a sitting duck just holding them up."
Take It Slow
"Be aware that your bike reacts a little bit differently [in rain]," Flexer said. "You might be used to making a curve at 20 mph, but for your own sake slow down and don't get ahead of yourself."
Be Extra Wary of The Cars Around You
According to Jacob Hanover, an assistant manager and mechanic at Linus Bike in Venice, bicycles are generally a little easier to control in rain than cars, which is all the more reason to be extra wary of the cars around you.
Slow Your Brakes
Rainy day bikers should double the amount of time they would usually leave to brake or slow down. Hanover also recommends keeping more distance between your bike and obstacles ahead so you don't slide out slamming on your brakes, if and when it comes to that.
Dress To Be Noticed
It can be especially hard for drivers to spot the bikes around them in the rain. According to Danny Farahirad, co-owner of bike shop Just Ride L.A., bicyclists should "really dress bright and loud as possible so cars can really see you." In their guide to biking in the rain, Momentum Magazine also recommends using lights, and wearing reflective clothing if you have it.
Look Out For Puddles
Steering straight through a massive puddle might seem like fun, but bicyclists should be wary of what lies beneath. According to Bike East Bay, even little puddles can "hide nasty things like potholes, nails, or glass, which can cause a flat tire or a crash."
Slippery Spots Ahead
A slippery spot of road can unseat novice and expert riders alike. Remember that the road is always slickest right when it starts drizzling, and be wary of telltale oily residue on the road (they can look kind of rainbow-y). The Guardian notes that manhole covers and painted lines tend to be especially slippery when wet.
Farahirad suggests rear fenders on your bike as a way of staying dry, or—as he put it—"to prevent water from getting all over your pants and making it look like you pooped yourself."
Consider Investing In Waterproof Clothing
According to Flexer, "even fenders are going to splash some water up, so if you're trying to protect some nice clothes, I recommend some waterproof riding pants. There are some really nice, lightweight ones from companies like Pearl Izumi and other brands like that." And if you're not ready to shell out for those kind, Flexer said that far cheaper options can be found at a place like Sport Chalet. For what it's worth, Flexer also noted that he personally doesn't like fenders all that much, and feels like they get in the way.
Want to check out more bike rain gear? Here's Bicycling Magazine's guide.
Protect Your Face
Flexer recommends that riders use "some type of face mask or bandana of sorts" when riding in the rain to keep water out of one's mouth and eyes. "Protecting the mouth and the eyes is pretty important because the water that you're getting wet with isn't the water coming from the sky, it's the water coming from back off the surface of the ground," he noted.