The New Essentials

How to Bike in the Rain

Biking under the rain is challenging, but not impossible. Longtime bike commuter Andro Umali shares with us a few tips on how to prepare.

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Biking around Metro Manila has never been more popular. Since the pandemic arrested the country’s public transport systems in March, more and more people have turned to cycling for mobility. These days, an average of over 2,000 cyclists pass through EDSA every day, while in cities across the metro, bike lanes are popping up where there previously weren’t any. Even local bike shops are struggling to keep up with demand, as more Filipinos grow to depend on active transport.

With this year's rainy season expected to last until December, it’s normal for new bikers to feel a little out of their depth. Biking in the rain is scary—the skies are dark, the roads are slippery, and there are many external factors to consider. But it only takes one thing to do it safe and well: good preparation.  

“Preparing to ride under the rain means [being able to] bike anywhere, anytime, no matter how unpredictable the weather is,” says Andro Umali, a long-time bike commuter and member of the online bike community MNL Moves. Though a rainy day ride takes more planning than usual, the sense of freedom and control unlocked by bike commuting—especially when you have a bad combo like rain and traffic—is well-worth the trade-off.

And who knows—you might even come to enjoy it. “It’s actually more fun!” affirms Andro, who believes that biking in the rain is its own kind of adventure; he’s even discovered new routes while doing one of these rides. “The thrill of riding under the rain is something I’ve personally enjoyed.”

Any outdoor activity requires you to keep yourself safe—and this starts before you even head out the door. Never force yourself to ride in the rain; if you don’t feel comfortable, you can always opt to travel in another way.

But just in case you decide to go off into the streets, here are a few things to keep in mind:


Before You Ride

  1. Check the weather forecast. Anticipating the day’s weather will help you mentally and physically prepare. As much as possible, avoid riding out when there’s a typhoon signal—better to be safe than sorry!
  2. Always have a good, waterproof jacket on-hand—one that’s light and breathable to keep the sweat out, but thick enough to shield you from the rain.
  3. Bring extra clothes. If you arrive at your destination more drenched than expected, you can always change into something warm and dry.


On the Road

  1. Take. It. Slow. The rain not only affects you but other road-users as well. Expect a few more hazards than usual.
  2. Avoid riding through puddles—you never know if it’s deep or shallow.
  3. Brake earlier than you would while cycling in dry conditions. Wet brakes unfortunately reduce friction, which take longer to slow you down.


Post-Ride

  1. As much as possible, rinse and towel dry your bike after a wet ride. This will remove any dirt or debris that managed to lodge itself onto your bike. If you’re unable to wash your bike immediately, make sure to wipe your gears down to prevent rust from building.  
  2. Rainwater wears out bike chains and cables more quickly; make sure to lubricate your gears after cleaning so they don’t easily corrode.
  3. Bring your bike to a maintenance shop at least once a month to keep it in perfect condition.

GRID recommends

Cycling Rain Poncho from Decathlon

This water-repellant poncho comes with a transparent hood that opens up your field of view while riding. Get it here.

Women's Rain Jacket by The North Face from R.O.X.

Perfect for all kinds of weather, this lightweight Anorak-style jacket by The North Face comes with an adjustable hood and draw cord. Folds into a stylish fanny pack for easy storage. Get it here.

Cycling Overtrousers from Decathlon

Made with built-in shoe covers, these overtrousers come with rip-tabs on the cuffs for ease of use. Get them here.

Ultralight Cycling Cap from Decathlon

This cycling cap is made from light synthetic material that dries  quickly, making it comfortable to wear even in hot weather. Get it here.

DISCLAIMER: These products have been recommended by members of our Team. Neither GRID Magazine nor its staff are receiving commissions, x-deals, or other gains from this feature. The copyright of the images used in this slider belong to the respective shops.

THE OUTFIT


A waterproof and breathable jacket

A natural must-have for those brave enough to bike in the rain. Your body becomes warmer the more you exert energy, so get a rain jacket or poncho that’s water-repellant but light enough that you aren’t drenched in your sweat.

Rain pants

Also known as overpants, these keep your legs dry and warm as you pedal through the rain. Some pants even come with built-in shoe covers so you don’t get that icky feeling of wearing wet shoes.


Overshoes

In case your rain pants don’t come with built-in shoe covers, overshoes are a good alternative. Make sure to get one that comes with a good grip, so you don’t end up slipping over your pedals.


Cycling Cap

A cycling cap keeps your head dry, and your eyes clear from water. Works best with vented helmets to keep the sweat out.


Waterproof Gloves

Good-to-have, but not required. A pair of these can help keep your hands warm and dry while riding—just make sure to get one with a firm grip.



THE BIKE


Fenders

If you want to arrive at your destination without looking like you’d just run a mountain biking marathon, make sure to install fenders—or mud guards–on your bike. These keep mud, water, and other road dirt off your body (and bike!) while riding.


Tires

Strengthen the grip of your wheels by lowering your tire pressure by 10 or 15 psi. Increasing your wheel’s surface area will help you move more safely on slippery roads. Better yet, use a bike with thicker tires!


Bike lights

All road users have trouble seeing clearly in rainy conditions, so it’s important to stay visible! To increase chances of visibility, invest in a rechargable blinking light for both the front and back of your bike.



THE GEAR


Rain cover

Use a rain cover to protect your bags from water damage. (If you have a carrier rack, you could also consider buying a waterproof bike pannier.) To be extra safe, line the inside of your bags with a plastic or garbage bag to keep your things dry.


A waterproof saddle pouch

If you aren’t bringing too many items, get a waterproof saddle pouch to hold your essentials.