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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Rain and road bikes

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    I've kind of gotten bitten by the charity ride bug and I have been looking at some opportunities for area rides for 50 miles or so.

    All rides carry the disclaimer that they ride rain or shine but reserve the ride to cancel.

    I have always viewed my road bike with its skinny tires as a fair weather ride, so here is what I am asking.

    On a road bike, when is it, for you, too wet to ride?

    I know mountain bikers ride in all sorts of weather but to me anything beyond a low level drizzle would be off putting to say the least. Which leads to how much rain gear does a road biker need?

    So share your thoughts.
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5 WSD

    2011 Trek FX7.2--What can I say? It was on sale!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    northern Virginia
    I hate riding in rain, though I'll do it sometimes when necessary. But, DO NOT ride in severe weather. Find shelter and stay there until the storm passes. I got caught a in a bad thunderstorm last year, and the initial gust of wind actually took my breath away. Heavy rain and wind are not safe conditions for cycling. And since you live in Kansas you probably already know this, but "under a tree" is not safe shelter in a severe storm.

    That being said, you can ride a road bike in the rain. You'll want to reduce the air pressure in your tires for better traction. Fenders can be helpful, and it's possible to get some that can be easily attached to a road bike. Mine are called Race Blades, and I think Planet Bike makes something similar. Be careful riding on painted lines on the road and metal objects (manhole covers) because they get slippery. Also be careful if there are wet leaves on the ground.

    I'm sure others will have lots to add...

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    The Great White North
    If it's an event ride or a training/group ride that I've planned with others, it's never too wet! It can be too stormy - you always need to take shelter if lightening is in the area - but not too wet. My road bike tires are Continental GPs - if you do a tire search on this site, you can find a lot of info. They are grippier and less puncture-prone than some other tires, and you really don't want to have just "slicks" on if you are out in the rain. Agree with the advice to lower your tire pressure, avoid painted road lines.... also, be very careful about crossing railroad tracks in the rain: slow down and always cross them at a perpendicular angle - you want to take that angle even when the tracks are dry. Some other thoughts, put things you don't want wet, cell phone for instance, in zip-locs or other waterproof bags. I swear by aLOKSAK bags, and love that you can use your touch screen without taking the phone out of the bag. Carry a plastic grocery/Target-style bag and a few rubber bands to put over your seat when you are not riding. Happy riding!

    2001 Trek 7500 FX, converted to a hauler - Serfas
    200? Marin hybrid - Selle San Marco
    2004 Trek 5200 - Avatar
    2011 Trek 6.2 Madone - Ruby

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    My road bikes see more crappy weather than my mountain bikes, due to the fragility of our local trails when wet.

    I don't do ice, severe storms (as NYbiker mentioned), or high winds. Pouring rain stinks from visibility and sogginess standpoints, but I've done it... My biggest turn-off about riding in the rain is all of the bike cleaning that happens afterwards.

    As far as rain gear, I aim for staying warm rather than dry, especially during the summer. A vest, some lightweight full-finger gloves, lightweight wool socks, clear glasses, and a cycling cap with brim are my must-haves. After that, it really depends on the specific conditions and whether or not I add more layers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Richmond, VA
    Ditto the advice above - I often ride in the rain on the road out of respect for the hard work that has been put in to our awesome trail system. Since we seem to have an abundance of distracted drivers I do use all of my lights and insanely bright orange gear to help with visibility.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    In Kansas there is wind and if you wait for a windless day, you won't ride much. But I often use my bike to drop my vehicle off for service (never fails to impress) and my ride home takes me down an east west road between two grain elevators. I think I got caught in a cross wind and that wind actually forced me off the road. It was fast and astounding. Nothing bad happened but it was weird to be that "at the mercy" of the wind.

    I am going to look at the tires. That sounds interesting to me. I would like to do a little ride on the Katy Trail in Missouri. Would the Continentals allow you to use a road bike on a packed dirt surface like that?

    I'm pretty weather aware--camped with my son's scout troop when he was that age.

    Rainy weather in KS--doesn't last too long. We'll be dry as a bone in a couple of months, alas.
    2011 Trek Madone 4.5 WSD

    2011 Trek FX7.2--What can I say? It was on sale!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    I live in Oregon. If I don't ride in the rain I might not ride for months. I just put on layers and peel them off as they get wet :0 Seriously, I guess I am just so used to not letting rain get in the way of anything it doesn't seem to bother me much anymore. I only don't go out when it's windy. We have too many old trees and sometimes the roads are littered with limbs.
    2013 Specialized Myka FSR Comp
    2013 Specialized Ruby Sport (carbon)
    2014 Salsa Vaya 3 (steel)
    2014 Felt Z75

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Marin County CA
    Like a lot of those who've posted, if I didn't ride on the road in the rain, I wouldn't be able to ride. I dress for it and LOVE my disc brakes!! The disc brakes were what really sold me on my Volagi. Full fenders are great, though I didn't put them on at all this year, even though I did a couple of 200ks in really bad rain.

    Generally if it's just a casual ride and it is absolutely dumping, I will probably stay in. But if it is a ride I have planned, or it's just sprinkling at the start, I'll go.

    When it's easy, ride hard; when it's hard, ride easy.

    2011 Volagi Liscio
    2010 Pegoretti Love #3 "Manovelo"
    2011 Mercian Vincitore Special
    2003 Eddy Merckx Team SC - stolen
    2001 Colnago Ovalmaster Stars and Stripes

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    I don't set out to ride in rain, but if I get caught in it, I deal. If it looks like it might rain, I wear a wool base layer and ride my cyclocross bike. (It has disc brakes--better stopping power in wet weather.) I've been caught in a downpour on my roadie and just rode. Bear in mind that rim brakes will squeal and lose stopping power when wet. Ride accordingly. Oh, and the painted lines are also slippery when wet.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva

    Saving for the next one...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Melbourne, Australia
    Also tyres are softer in the wet so will puncture more easily, especially if there's glass on the road.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Rowland Hts, CA
    I would never willingly ride a road bike on the road even if it is drizzling.

    Have I had to ride while it was raining, yes, due to sudden, unexpected rain showers.

    The turns and the braking on wet roads (especially if there is a downhill), even when there is only a slight drizzle is too dangerous in my opinion. I can't speak for cyclocross bikes though.
    2014 Liv Lust
    2013 Specialized Fate Expert with carbon wheelset (sold)
    2012 Specialized Amira Elite
    2010 Santa Cruz Juliana with R kit and Crampon pedals (sold)

    2011 Specialized Ariel Sport,suspension post,Serfas Rx Women's Microfiber saddle (sold)



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