We all know that gravel bikes are perfect for off-road adventures, bike packing, and long tours, but can they handle the rain too?
In this article, we will be discussing gravel bikes and how they perform in the rain. Are they good? Is rain riding with gravels safe? What are the measures to take?
All these questions will be answered adequately. We will also be giving you tips on how to maintain your gravel bike during the rainy season and how you can make your bike rainproof.
Are Gravel Bikes Good in Rain?
Gravel Bikes work well in rain but only when your gravel bike is adequately fortified for rain riding. Without this, you may cause harm to yourself and your bike while riding in the rain.
But even with this, riding in the rain isn’t advised because of the following reasons.
Why is Rain Riding With Gravel Bikes Not Advised? (4 Reasons)
1- High Risk of Falling
When gravel is soaked, it becomes softer, slippery, and unstable. Riding in this condition can be dangerous because there are more chances of your bike crashing.
This will not only damage your bike but also injure you as well. If you are caught in the rain, and there’s no other choice than to ride, then you would better ride slowly and carefully.
2- Slower than Usual
Because soaked gravel is softer and unstable, you won’t be able to maintain the same speed you would on dry gravel.
While riding, you will experience a feeling of being sunk and you would have to push harder. There will be a significant drop in your average mph depending on the type of gravel you are riding on.
3- Your Bike Is Prone to Damage
Riding in the rain will cause some parts of your bike to corrode and rust faster than normal, especially if they are not properly greased before and after riding.
They will also wear out faster too. You may find yourself replacing bottom brackets, derailleurs, and chains often. If your gravel bike has cables, it could also be affected.
4- Risk of Being Swept Away
When you ride in the rain, you are at risk of running into puddles and potholes filled with water. If you are riding fast, you may not see these in time and sometimes they may be deeper than you think. This is dangerous.
It could even be worse. If you accidentally ride in moving water and there is a high current. The current could knock you and you could be swept away in a flood.
How Much Rain Can Gravel Bikes Handle?
Gravel bikes are strongly built so they can handle a lot of tough conditions. You can ride your gravel bike in the rain as often as you want without it getting any serious damage as long as you clean it properly after every use.
Riding your bike constantly during heavy downpours can however cause water to get into the internal bearings.
You should also avoid storing your gravel bike in an open area where it can get beaten by the rain or where dew can easily settle on it. This will weaken some of its vital components over time and it will corrode easily.
How Often Should I Ride My Gravel Bike in the Rain?
You can ride a gravel bike as often as you like, but you have to put a few things in mind.
First, make sure your tires are in good condition. Riding on wet gravel is harder than dry so you need strong and sturdy tires. It gives you a better chance of riding safely.
You can ride your gravel bike as often as you like but you should also be careful of storms or strong wind. If the rain is too heavy and comes with a strong wind, you should probably allow it to pass before cycling.
You are less likely of seeing what is ahead and a crash could damage your bike or worse endanger your life.
If there’s no wind however and the sky is clear, then you can ride as long as you want in the rain.
If it is a rainy season, you can ride every day, as long as you make your gravel bike rainproof and pay attention to the rain riding tips we will be giving later in this article.
How Do I Make My Gravel Bike Rainproof?
If you are in the rainy season, you may not have a choice but to ride in the rain often. There are however ways you can protect your bike from rain damage and ensure you can ride without worries.
1- Use Chain Lube
If you are going to be riding your gravel bike in the rain, then ensure your bike chain is adequately lubed before riding. Note that it is better you use a wet lube rather than a dry one.
Most dry lubes aren’t water-resistant so they would easily wash off your chain.
Lubing your chain ensures that you can pedal smoothly even during a heavy downpour. It also prevents salt corrosion and rust.
2- Grease Drivetrain
To make your gravel bike rainproof, you need to grease your bottom bracket, jockey wheels, derailleur, headset, and all other important drivetrain components with water-resistant grease.
This should be done often if you want to prevent corrosion, and excessive wear, to your gravel bike.
It also prevents dirt and grime from working their way into your drivetrain and causing serious damage.
Should You Wash Your Gravel Bike after Rain?
A Gravel Bike should be washed after exposure to rain. If you ride your bike in rainy weather, then mud splashes, grime, and dirt gets collected on your bike during the ride and this can hold moisture causing your drivetrain to corrode.
They are also fine and sharp and could grind against your gravel bike components wearing them down.
So you must wash your gravel bike after every ride. This will increase the life span of your bike greatly.
Wash with warm soapy water and a sponge, paying attention to steel components like the cassette, crankset, derailleur, etc. Clean tight places and corners like under your saddle where mud splashes are likely to be present.
After doing this, degrease the chain, wipe it dry, and then lubricate I,t. Also, lubricate your cables and other necessary components.
Bike Riding in the Rain- Tips
Here are a few things worth remembering if you are all in for bike riding in the rain:
1- Protect Yourself
If you are going to be riding a lot in the rain, then you must protect yourself from the elements and whatever danger you may face on the road.
First, you need a waterproof jacket. This helps you stay dry and prevent you from developing ailments that come with catching a cold. Ensure it is a breathable one so you don’t overheat.
You also need waterproof boots to prevent your feet and lower legs from cold and mud splashes. Don’t forget to wear a cycling cap to prevent water from getting into your eyes. Waterproof gloves are also very important to keep your hands warm.
You also need to further protect yourself by getting cycling lights for your bike. A headlight will be a good addition too.
The weather is always cloudy during rain and this can make it difficult to see. It makes it easier to also see other cyclists and for them to see you. You will also detect puddles faster and be able to avoid them.
2- Mount Fenders
As you ride in the rain, your tires will fling dirt and grime to your bike drivetrain and also to you. You will find your bike filled with mud splashes all over and this can cause unnecessary wear to your bike components.
To avoid this, you should mount fenders on your bike. The fenders will take the brunt of the splashes and the splashes will fall back to the ground because they are slick. This will protect you and your bike.
3- Get Better Tires
Old and weak tires aren’t suitable for riding in the rain. So are thin and slick tires. You need something wider and stronger. This helps you get a firmer grip on the ground and you are less likely to fall. Make sure you get durable and puncture-proof tires.
Also, be ready for flats. Take along spare tubes and everything you will need to repair tires or inflate your tires when they get punctured.
Always be ready for whatever may happen in the rain. You don’t want to be stranded while soaked. Not a pretty sight at all.
4- Slow Down
Riding in the rain is fun and it is easy to get carried away in all that excitement. But don’t be tempted to ride at a high speed. The road might feel good and smooth but there are hazards you need to be wary of. It is harder to spot obstacles in the rain and running into them can be dangerous, so, slow down.
Pay attention to what is in front of you. You should be more careful when descending. Don’t descend at a very high speed. Anything could make you lose your grip and you’ll crash.
5- Turn the Bike Over
You are supposed to wash, dry, and grease your bike after riding in the rain. But even with this maintenance, water could be stored in your bike in places you don’t expect.
No matter how much you dry it, it will still be wet in those areas and this could damage your drivetrain.
To avoid this, turn your bike upside down once in a while if you ride often in the rain. This will drain the bike of every drop of water that might have gotten its way inside. You will be surprised at where water comes out of.
Gravel bikes are good in the rain but they should be protected and made rainproof before taking them for a fun ride in the rain.
Riding in the rain can be difficult as well as fun but you can do it as often as you want on your gravel bike. Just ensure you and your bike are well protected.
Remember to always wash your bike after rain, to rid it of oil, grime, mud splashes, and whatever chemical may be on the road that may have found its way on your bike.
Don’t forget the tips we have included to ensure your safety and the safety of your bike during rain riding. Paying attention to these tips will make rain riding safer and more fun.