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Bicycle Reflection
A student walks past the Science Lab Building and is reflected in rain puddles. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis

Peace, Love and Bicycles: Tips for Rainy Bike Rides

The rain will come, the rain will go, and the rain will come back again. Precipitation poses a few challenges for everyday bicyclists, but it need not dampen your day. Below are a few tips to keep you riding safely during the rainy season.   

Check your tire pressure | When it gets wet, it’s good to let a little pressure out of your tires. By lowering your PSI a smidge, it allows the tire to better contact the road and yields better traction for stopping and turning in the wet.

ArrowMore on tire pressure | Tires are generally happiest when they are inflated, so if you aren’t certain of how much pressure your tires need, you should check on your inflation range on the side of your tire. Generally, you can lower PSI by about 20% from its maximum rating and gain a confident and comfortable ride. Since tires lose air over time, you should be in the habit of checking and adjusting tire pressure every other week, at a minimum once a month. 

Lube your chain | Applying lube more frequently in the wet season will keep your drivetrain happier. Chain lube is important because water washes away the (dry) lubricants that keep your chain quiet while riding. Switching to a wet lube could also be an option, but be aware that they attract much more dirt. Wax based lubricants work great in wet and dry situations, talk to your bike mechanic to find out more. 

Get a fender | Fenders and rain gear will make even the nastiest rainy day a day prime for riding. Fenders come in a variety of styles, ranging from clip on temporary ones to full coverage fenders which stay affixed to your bike all season long (or always). In addition to fenders, a bit of gear for your body goes a long way. Consider using rain pants, a rain jacket, and these wonderful things called waterproof socks to keep yourself dry. 

Additional quick tips for riding in the rain:

  • Lubricate the shackle mechanism of your lock with a drip lubricant and help keep rust at bay.
  • A soggy saddle is a bummer, use a saddle cover (plastic bags work great in a pinch) to keep your seat dry when parked. 
  • If you don’t have waterproof shoes but can carry a spare set of shoes, try using bread bags to keep your feet (and socks) dry. Slide into the dry shoes when you get to your destination. 

Questions? What more do you want to know? Give us an idea of what you’d like to learn about bicycling by sending us an email: bikeprogram@ucdavis.edu or call us at 530-752-BIKE (2453).

Peace, Love, and Bicycles is a series of educational bicycle articles by Jeffrey Bruchez, Bicycle Program Coordinator for Transportation Services. 

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