Saturday, November 14, 2009

Of Rain and Recumbents

Rain and Bicycles don't mix well. Poor visibility hidden pot holes and arriving wet makes all types of cycling less favorable.

With Recumbents, it depends on the style of bike you ride as to how it will fare the storm.
Fairings and fenders will keep you dryer but not totally.
I will never forget the time I made it to work on my Fared Vision R40 in the pouring rain and noticed that my feet were totally dry. This was something that had never happened before with me on any rainy ride and on any bicycle.

Recumbents for the most part have more mechanical problems then Diamond Frame bicycles dealing with road grime because the distance from the street to the underside of the frame. Poor shifting and braking can be eliminated by running full cable housing for both your derailleur and rear brake. The added weight by using full length housings is worth the braking and shifting improvement.

It depends on the style of your seat as to how well it will work on a rainy day. Some foam cushions will soak up water and others will allow it to pass. Backs of seats all sit in front of the rear wheel and will cause your back to get soaked if not fendered. A simple solution to both problems is using large trash bags to cover the seat. I have placed bags down into the back of the seat on all my Recumbents and kept my back dry. The seat cushion can be covered and allow water to not soak in.

I like carring a small towel in my bag to dry my hands and face before I go into a store to shop. Its also good if you get a flat because punctures in the rain are always a mess and if you need to patch a tube you can dry the surface of the rubber.

In all cases, its best to use as many lights as you have to be seen. The more the better. Create a light show and ride as if your invisible.

It may be best to start early and take a different route to avoid mishaps in tight squeezes such as bridges and some intersections. This of course depends on the time of day you will be riding and the area you live in.

Clothing for dealing with the wet as modern winter cycling clothing has never been better. Fabrics have improved greatly over the past 10 years and work better now then ever before. A good shop will have a great selection.

Remember not to over dress, My rule of thumb is that if you go outside and your warm, your overdressed and will be uncomfortably hot shortly.

I have found that its best to clean your bicycle after riding in the rain before it drys. A few buckets of warm water will rinse any grime off easily with scratching your paint. Taking the time to wash the bike while it still wet will save you time later.

With a little thought and planning, riding in the rain can be done safely. Allow extra time for your trip, Avoid puddles because they may be hiding pot holes and always remember, Rain always looks much worse looking out a window from inside your home or your car.

Riding in the rain can be a real adventure. There is nothing like the feeling of possibly being the only nut out riding and arriving home to a hot shower and great food.
I'm going for a ride.


  1. I did a nice 2 hour loop. It was pouring out when I started but slowed down at the end of the ride.
    The streets, ponds and streams are flooding and there is a river flowing down the side of any street that sloped. Its Wild!
    Im happy to be home, warm dry and happy. Im glad I got out.

  2. Nothing like coming home to a cozy warm house out of the rain! I'll take a pass on the ride today, though. Disc brake are a godsend if you find yourself in the rain much on a bike. I once got caught in a torrential downpour and almost rode my R40 into a pond at the bottom of a steep downhill, just be because of wet, slick rim brakes... Funny now -- not then.

    And I will loudly attest to Scott's assertion that it's a REALLY good idea to rinse your bike off after a wet ride (rain or just wet roads). The few times I didn't, all the wet sand turned to concrete on my frame, and the dissolved road salt (it's always there YEAR-ROUND here in MA) started rusting my chain within 2 days...

    If I'm pressed for time, I'll just spray it down aggressively with the garden hose, wipe off the derailleurs and chain, then hit it a lick with WD40 (just to hold off the rust until I can get back to it clean/lube properly). Takes about 5 mins for that level of effort to make a real cleanup (or followup ride) *much* easier.

    FWIW, the best thing I *ever* bought for my bikes (aside from a decent work stand) was one of those Park Tool chain cleaner gizmos. I fill it up with Simple Green, clamp it around the chain and spin the cranks for about 5 mins while it's in the stand, shifting up and down. Remove it then rinse the chain/derailleurs with lots of clean water while cranking. Then spin/wipe dry and spray everything with light 3-in-1 (w/PTFE). The bike practically purrs "thanks" when you're done. :-)


  3. Todays ride was pelting rain in the face at frist and later not noticable. Getting back to the house was truly the best part, but not far behind were the rivers on the side of the road.
    Thanks for posting your comment. SRC

  4. and I have to insert a plug here, for all time favorite piece of clothing, the Grunden 760 Petrus waterproof smock. This is the perfect top for riding in the rain on a recumbent. Not only is there no zipper up the front, where water puddles up and drains through, but there is also tight neoprene cuffs that keep water from running up your arms.
    Made for fishing, but totally perfect for recumbent riding.


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