The rain this winter shows no sign of letting up so here’s a few tips on how you can keep riding through the worst of it.

1. Jacket: The most important item of clothing for battling the rain is a jacket. Not only will a good waterproof jacket keep your torso dry it will help you regulate your body temperature. Gore Tex is the best material as it is waterproof and breathable. A breathable material is essential so you don’t overheat. A thinner rain jacket or ‘shell’ can also be used with the correct layers underneath, although persistent or very heavy rain will get through eventually.

2. Mudguards: They may not look great, and they may rattle, but they are essential. Mudguards will keep all that filthy water on the road off of your feet, lower legs and back (where un-guarded wheels will spray the water with carefree abandon). Even if you miss the rain, the roads will remain wet. That (dirty) water then gets flicked up by the wheels and makes you wet and cold. A flap added to the front guard will give you even greater protection.

3. Overshoes and gloves: Your extremities are the first parts of your body to be sacrificed in order to maintain a core temperature, and when your hands and feet get wet and cold you will feel disproportionally uncomfortable. Water resistant overshoes are worth their weight in gold while gloves are a little harder to get right. They need to protect you without being so thick as to hamper your bike control. You still need to be able to feel the brakes and gears through all that material.

4. Chain degreaser: After a ride in the rain you should immediately shower and dry yourself. The same goes for your chain. Cover it in degreaser (WD40 or GT85 are both widely available although there are bike specific degreasers like Muc Off) then vigorously wipe it down with a rag until it’s dry. A few drops of lube will then protect it for the next ride. Do this and it can double the chain’s lifespan. It’s a good idea to spray the other metallic moving parts too; front and rear gear mechanisms and brake callipers. Try to keep the degreaser away from the hubs, bottom bracket, wheel rims and brake blocks. Ideally your whole bike would get washed down after a wet ride, but we know that’s not very realistic

5. Cycling cap: Air vents in helmets are great in the heat, not so much in the rain. A cheap cycling cap worn under your helmet is a good barrier for your head, with the peak giving extra protection for your eyes against the spray. Other options include a skull cap (although they don’t have peaks) or an aero helmet as many of them have plastic covers

6. Standing water: Avoid it. Standing water not only gets you wet, it can be incredibly dangerous as you never know what’s lurking beneath. It might just be a puddle, but then it could be a wheel smashing pothole. When you see standing water, check over your shoulder before moving safely out to ‘ride the lane’ (most standing water will gather near the kerb). Only ride through standing water if you can clearly see what’s underneath.

7. Check your tyres: Rain water washes all sorts of muck on to the roads, and when your tyres are wet they pick up more of it than usual. After each ride take a quick look over your tyres checking for flints, glass and other debris. Also check for cuts in the tyre that could weaken the carcass or allow the inner tube to bulge through. It’s a good idea to ride a heavier tyre in the winter with a thick tread. Why not try a 25c tyre run a slightly lower pressure too.

8. Plastic bags: If you’re riding in very heavy or constant rain there is almost nothing that will keep your feet dry as water runs down your legs or gets in from underneath. A cheap option to prolong that nice dry feelingin your feet is to slip a plastic bag over your socks, then your tights (if wearing them) pulled down over the bags, then finally your shoes and overshoes. A more permanent, less budget version is Seal Skinz socks that do a good job of protecting your feet.

9. Lights: Whether it’s the droplets of water on wing mirrors or a steamed-up windscreen, driving standards drop drastically in the rain. It is well worth making yourself more visible when it’s raining, even in the middle of the day. There are plenty of good quality, lightweight, LED lights that can be discreetly clipped to your bike. If riding at night, lights that meet legal requirements are needed anyway. Flashing LEDs are a good addition.

10. Turbo or rollers: This isn’t so much as dealing with the rain as avoiding it. Structured sessions of anywhere between 30 minutes and an hour can do amazing things for your fitness. Sat on your bike aimlessly pedalling while watching the TV, less so.

11. Move to Spain: Not a feasible option to many people we know, but worth putting it out there.

  • Pieter Bas

    Nice and funny article, but I missed :how to protect the legs! Rainmates invented a innovative and rollable rain trouser , which only protects the upper parts of the legs. Therefore no condensation, ind fast and easy to use. Check http://rainmates.nl/legs/legs_skirt

  • Hardman Ball

    1. Jacket: Standard issue Duffle coat only. Modern plastic fabrics are for space suits and there is no
    place for them on the country lanes of Sussex.

    2. Mudguards: NO NO NO NO. Let me say that again….NO. Tweed plus four trousers tucked into colour matched wool socks. Corduroy trousers are also acceptable.

    3. Overshoes and gloves: NO NO NO to overshoes. Everyone knows a bit of rain softens up leather shoes nicely. Just let the toe clips do there job. Gloves should be wool crochet – short fingered.

    4. Chain degreaser: After a ride in the rain you should immediately open a Guinness and have a cigarette. Vegetate for while, eat some chocolate. Throw the bike down where it belongs
    and leave it. It doesn’t need pampering after a few splashes of water – if it does, it’s a crap bike. Let the chain be for at least a week. A few vigorous turns will eventually get it around the jockey wheels. Use 3in1 oil which is normally reserved for the lawn mower.

    5. Cycling cap: No helmet. Cap should be cotton with World Champion bands. When the
    sun pierces through the clouds, you will be thankful of that visor.

    6. Standing water: You can ride through it no problem. Let me tell you about frozen standing water though…

    7. Check your tyres: You need at least two as a general rule. Never check for cuts or such like. Just poney up and get some with a high TPI and be done with. Puncture sealant is not allowed, only vulcanised patches and glue atleast 8 years old is permitted. Be sure to ride on lanes that have just had their thorny edges freshly cut and trimmed to check your set-up.

    8. Plastic bags: If you are a teenager, you are allowed to use old plastic bags from bread loafs over your feet before putting socks on. Plastic bags over the saddle is just wrong and is not tolerated.

    9. Lights: Anything with a battery is evil. A dynamo (not hub type) must be fitted front and back, and the combined power of both light bulbs should not exceed 5 milliwatts.

    10. Turbo or rollers: Should be donated to charity; something for inactive housebound handicapped people.

    11. Move to Spain: Is not an option. It’s cold there too and besides all the food is foreign and you get diarrhea.

  • Derailleur

    Keep your derailleur from derailing or just get a rain check at your LBS. And don’t forget a good old mesh vest, or wear a stainless chainmaille if you’re in UK.

  • Ken Evans

    12. Ride on an indoor velodrome.

  • Denis

    you can move also to Croatia :-) we have also nice weather

  • Jolly cyclist

    ALSO a close fitting base layer to ensure cold wet clothing doesn’t flap against your skin, with long arms so you get rid of that boil in the bag feeling!

  • Pee Bee

    You forgot the legs – you know those psiton things which propel the bike forward. I live in France where, contrary to public opinion, it rains as they say here like a cow who peepees. I use Endura Stealthlite bib tights which keep you dry and warm and smiling. These keep me on the road in the rain when the fair weather natives stay at home. Recommended by Cycling Weekly in the past I believe. Try thm. They’re not cheap, but they’re worth every penny – or should that be pound. Having said that we have no rain here in France and it’s been 20° today! Sorry.