There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes and nowhere does this apply more than wet weather cycling. Cycling in the rain might not be most people’s favourite conditions but it’s the norm in some countries. To manage wet rides safely and comfortably, you need to kit out both yourself and the bike. Here’s how.
Thanks to huge improvements in fabric technology, gone are the days of boiling yourself alive to stay dry. The best waterproof jackets are lightweight and breathable with plenty of ventilation.
Choosing a waterproof jacket that also has reflective panels or strips or adding a reflective gilet helps you stay visible – and safe – on dark roads.
Your choices of tights are more limited than jackets and tend to be more water-repelling than truly waterproof. For that, you’d need waterproof overtrousers which, although the tailoring and bulkiness has improved over the years, are still more aimed at commuter cyclists than athletes.
You can go a certain amount of the way to keeping your feet dry with overshoes that slip over your regular shoes and pairing them with waterproof socks. But when it’s really wet, you need fully waterproof shoes, or boots, that have a higher ankle and a neoprene liner to completely prevent water seeping in.
Wet hands means cold fingers and, as well as being downright painful, that’s a safety issue as it stops you braking and changing gears. The ideal gloves will be waterproof, windproof and keep your hands warm while also allowing full movement.
As well as keeping your head dry, you want to keep it warm so you’ve got two choices: your regular ventilated helmet with a waterproof skull cap underneath or an aero helmet as those have no vents. The advantage of skull caps is that you can buy them with peaks which also serve to stop the rain running into your eyes.
Raining or not, mudguards will protect you from water splashing up from the road and soaking you. Plus, even if you don’t mind riding with a soggy bottom, it’s safer for riders behind you if you’re not spraying water at them.
The type of frame you have matters when choosing mudguards but there’s something for every frame and tyre size, even if you have to use clips and zip ties to hold them in place.
For bikes with sufficient frame clearance and the necessary dropout and chainstay mounts, you can fit full length mudguards for near-total splash protection. For frames with tighter clearance, 4mm is all you need to install Crud Roadracer mudguards in various lengths.
Wet weather brings dark, cloudy days and bad visibility. Bright front lights are a must-have for you to see the road ahead and rear lights ensure you can be seen by drivers.
For cold weather cycling, check out the essentials and the extras you need to add to your standard summer cycling kit.