For nature lovers, mountain bike riding can be the ideal outdoor activity. Not only do you get to enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors, but you also get to participate in that amazing adrenaline rush. However, as most mountain bikers know, weather conditions are not always perfect – and rain can be a major hold up.
Can I ride my mountain bike in the rain? Even though there are definitely some precautions you should take before mountain biking in the rain, you can still do it. If you are adequately prepared when you embark on your mountain biking journey, you will still have an awe-inspiring, memorable outdoor experience.
Because I was also very interested in mountain biking even in the rain, I did a lot of research on whether I could do it, how I could prepare, and how I could take care of my bike afterward. I’m not stingy, so I decided to share all the tips and tricks I learned while researching! Keep reading to learn how you, too, can mountain bike in the rain.
Can I Ride My Mountain Bike In The Rain?
The short answer is yes, you can ride your mountain bike in the rain – and lots of people do it! If you do a little online research, you’ll see just how many people have asked this exact same question.
Even though it may sound a little dangerous, mountain bikes are made far too strong to sit at home in your garage just because of a little water!
The long answer is yes, but it can be a little complicated – and there are a few reasons why. The major reason mountain biking in the rain is difficult is because of the trails.
When trails get wet, some of them get really hard – or even impossible – to navigate. Below, I have listed what trails that you should consider and the ones you shouldn’t.
Wet Trails That Are Ok To Ride On:
- Rock Trails
- Trails that drain
Wet Trails That Are NOT Ok To Ride On:
- Mud Trails
Mud trails are a big no-no. When mud trails get wet, they can become extremely messy and hard to bike in.
Mud actually absorbs the rainwater, and that means puddles. When bikers cross these puddles, they can accidentally make deep incisions into the trail, and those won’t go away until all the water is dried up.
Sometimes bikers can even accidentally make the path too wide, and then the path is not as valuable to bikers. To stay safe, avoid mud trails when it’s raining.
Rock trails, on the other hand, can be considered. The reason you can’t mountain bike on mud trails in the rain is that mud will absorb the water, and cause issues. However, on a rocky trail, you’ll have none of these issues.
Your bike won’t accidentally cause a rut or make the trail too big, so it’s safe to ride. This kind of trail could be one of your best bets when it comes to choosing a trail that will be safe to ride on in the rain.
While mud trails and rock trails have their own specific properties, some trail is actually designed to drain so that bikers don’t have to deal with the kinds of issues we talked about earlier.
While you may not already know exactly which local trails are designed this way, you can contact your local mountain biking groups or the manager of the parks your favorite trails are located in.
By just reaching out to a few people, you may find that your favorite trail is already perfect to ride on during the rain!
As we’ve already seen in this section, there are actually quite a few options when it comes to mountain biking in the rain.
Even though it can sound intimidating, it is way more common and accessible than I thought it was when I first started doing research. Now that we’ve looked at trails, it’s time to learn how to prepare for your rainy bike ride.
There are some things that you can prepare for early, that will make it easy and fast for you to get started. I’ve already put together a list of how you should get ready for your first mountain bike ride in the rain. You’ll find some supplies to purchase, and some physical things you should do while you’re actually on your ride.
Make sure you have waterproof gear. You want to be comfortable riding, so make sure you have a high-quality raincoat.
You might feel tempted to throw on any waterproof jacket you already have, but you should make sure it’s designed to withstand rain and wind. This will keep you warm, and make sure rain doesn’t distract you from your adventure.
Pedal fast! It might seem like you should go slow if the weather isn’t ideal, but that can actually be distracting! If you’re moving fast and concentrating on pedaling, the less than optimal weather conditions will be far from the forefront of your mind. More than anything, just keep going!
Don’t go quite so far. Let’s say you’ve been keeping up a consistent pedaling speed, and you’re really enjoying your bike ride. You might feel tempted to go as far as you normally do, but you probably shouldn’t.
You don’t know how biking and dealing with the weather at the same time will ultimately affect your exhaustion levels, and you don’t want to wear yourself out.
Invest in a mudguard. Nobody wants mud splashing them or their bike. Simply by getting a mudguard, you can avoid a lot of the frustration that could come with a mountain bike ride if you hadn’t prepared by reading this article.
Make sure your tires are prepared too. This one might seem a little obvious, but it’s too important to skip. Be sure your tires are as well prepared as you are. This will help you deal with slipperiness and excess mud in the area.
Tips For Safely Riding In The Rain
While we have already touched on a few tips for those who want to ride their mountain bikes in the rain, there are still some more safety instructions you may want to read before getting started.
In this section, I’m going to touch on both general mountain biking safety tips and rain specific tips so that you’re as prepared as possible for the trip.
Even in the best conditions, mountain biking can be dangerous. If you haven’t adequately prepared for everything that can come up during a mountain bike ride, you can be taken off guard by some of the things mountain bikers regularly encounter.
Some of these occurrences can be dangerous, so we’re going back to the basis on safety.
How you can make sure you’re riding your mountain bike safely:
- Have the right gear
- Don’t overexert yourself
First and foremost, you must have the right gear. There might not be any safety tip as important as this one. It’s amazing how many people don’t fully prepare for this aspect of riding. You’ll need a helmet to protect your head, of course.
But you should also invest in guards for your body, including ones for your knees and elbows. This will protect you if you happen to fall or have another accident.
Next, don’t overexert yourself. When I’m exercising, I really get into the zone. I get into the rhythm of moving, and before I know it I’ve done way more reps than I was planning to.
While that kind of mindlessness might be harmless when it comes to sit-ups, it can be dangerous if you’re mountain biking. Sometimes trails take you far from other people, and you don’t want to go so far that you end up too tired to come back.
Finally, research, research, research. While I did some of the research for you, it’s important for you to know your own trails. What is the trail made of? Where does it go uphill or downhill?
At what points will there be people nearby so I can ask for help if I need it? Being familiar with the layout and physical makeup of your chosen trail can a long way when it comes to being safe while mountain bike riding.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into, it will be much harder to prepare and more likely that you won’t know what to do if something goes wrong.
When you’re riding in the rain, you’ll need to still follow all of these precautions. In fact, you should pay special attention to these safety tips if you’re going to be riding in less than optimal conditions.
However, there are some extra ones you’ll need to know too so you can stay safe on your ride even if it’s pouring down.
Know every section of the trail. Not every part of a trail is created equally. It might be a little scary if you set out in the rain expecting one thing and getting another the longer you bike.
Make sure you know everything there is to know: where there’s more mud, where there’s less mud, where there are rocks, etc. Now is not the time to skimp on details. Watch the weather closely.
While you might be suited for a rain ride, are you also ready for a thunderstorm or an even worse weather phenomenon? If not, you should pay close attention to the weather.
Even if it’s just raining now, that doesn’t mean it won’t start getting worse later into your bike. To stay safe, make sure you know the day’s weather patterns and have a plan to turn around if it looks like the weather could get dangerous.
Pick a trail with trees. If you still want to ride in the rain but want to avoid some of the worst of it, choose a route with lots of trees overhead.
You’ll still need rain gear, but you might be able to skip out on some of the heavier rain if you’ve got foliage overhead. This can make it easier to see, navigate, and pedal. Besides, the view from under the trees will be a breathtaking addition to your route.
There are a lot of safety tips to keep in mind if you’re planning to brave the rain on your mountain bike. However, just by taking them into account, you can make your trip as safe and stress-free as possible.
Can I Ride My Mountain Bike After It Has Rained?
Maybe you don’t want to ride in the rain, but you’re disappointed that yesterday’s rain shower still hasn’t cleared up.
The good news for you is that that’s still fine – you can still ride after it has rained! Just like riding while it’s raining, riding afterward still requires some helpful tips and tricks that will make your ride as enjoyable as is possible.
The truth is it’s pretty difficult to tell if a trail has dried enough. If you know that it’s rained recently, it may be hard for you to tell if the trail has dried to the conditions you’re used to.
Fortunately, there are some ways for you to tell if the trail is dry as well as some tips for if the trail is still a little wet. Both will be helpful to those who want to bike post rain.
If you want to figure out if your usual trails have dried to their usual standards, there are certainly a few steps you can take before you start riding.
Steps To Take Before Riding:
- Learn about your favorite spots
- Pay attention
The first thing that you can do before riding is ask. Talking to people is the most sure-fire way to get answers as to when the trails are dry. Most areas have local mountain biking groups on social networking sites or that meet around town.
Keep your eyes open for these groups – joining one can make sure you’re in the know about all of the trail happenings. If you can’t find one, look for online mountain biking groups that might have more general information for you to use.
Next, learn about your favorite spots. Like we discussed in the section about riding in the rain, there are certain kinds of trails that can be used in the rain and other ones that cannot be. These same rules apply when you’re riding after it has rained.
If your favorite trail has a lot of mud, it’s probably best to skip until several days have gone by. If it’s rock, however, you could be good to go! Knowing what makes up the trails you like can go a long way in being ready for biking even if it’s just rained.
Last but not least, pay attention. What if you’ve taken the first two steps and feel like you’ve got the all clear to bike – and the trail seems a little too wet for comfort?
You can absolutely judge for yourself if a trail seems too wet for you to be riding. Even if other people say the trail is dry enough, you should be comfortable while biking.
If it seems unsafe or more difficult than you are prepared for, stop biking before you get hurt or your bike gets damaged. If the trail is too muddy or slippery, you don’t risk the damage that could have been avoided if you listened to your instincts.
Now that you’ve read how you should handle potentially riding after it has rained, you can be ready the next time you want to go for a ride but the weather conditions don’t seem perfect. Even if the trail is dry enough, though, you’ll still want to make sure you’re being as safe as possible. Be thinking about the precautions you should take.
Invest in the same waterproof gear you would need if you were riding in the rain. Definitely purchase mudguard for your bike.
If it has just rained, there will almost certainly be mud. You can be ready for any loose mud that can splash you if you make this investment. Not to mention you’ll be ready for riding in the rain if you choose to later on!
Keep your eyes on the trail. Just because part of the trail seems ready for riding doesn’t actually mean that all of it is. Keep a close eye on each section of the trail you enter and watch out for mud buildups or water that you didn’t see earlier in your ride.
Just like riding in the rain, riding after it has rained means you need to take some extra precautions and pay close attention while riding. However, if you’re taking all of these safety steps, you’ll be sure to have a great ride.
How Rain Can Damage a Mountain Bike
The main problem with riding in the rain is how your bike can be damaged. Especially if you do so regularly, your bike might be in trouble when it comes to how much exposure it has had to the elements and how well you care for it afterward.
If you start biking in the rain frequently, your bike will be especially at risk.
While we’ll cover how to care for your bike in a later section, I want to lay out all the ways riding in the rain can potentially damage your bike.
Before you make the decision to ride your bike in the rain, you will want to make sure you have all the facts as to how using your bike this way can actually harm it.
How Mountain Biking In The Rain Can Harm Your Bike:
- Water corrosion
- Wear and tear from dirt
Water can corrode your bike. This is a big issue, especially when it comes to consistently riding in the rain. Especially if you don’t have a newer bike, riding in the rain means that your bike’s gears’ exposure to water can cause them to rust. Not only will this slow you down, but it can also be dangerous.
Water usually has dirt and mud in it. Another problem with rain is how much dirt and mud it carries with it. While this might sound like a simple matter of cleaning up, all that extra dirt and mud means that your bike is experiencing average wear and tear faster than it would if you only rode in dry conditions.
That means that you might actually have to buy a new bike sooner than you otherwise might. That can be expensive, as well as stressful if you’re worried about how long your bike will last.
Like corrosion, one frustrating side effect of riding in the rain is how the metal parts of your bike might rust because of how much water they’re exposed to. This means way more maintenance, and it also means that you might have to get a new bike sooner.
You simply can’t see as well. While this isn’t a direct effect from the rain, it is still a real concern. As we talked about earlier, paying attention is one of the most important parts of staying safe while mountain bike riding.
If the rain is making harder for you to pay attention, you may struggle to do so, putting you at risk for slipping, falling, or even crashing. All of these things will damage your bike.
Overall, the main problem with mountain bike riding in the rain is how much exposure to the elements mountain bikes have to endure just to be able to ride in the rain relatively often.
Not only does that mean more maintenance for you, but it also means more expenses and more stress when it comes to your bike’s care and upkeep.
Maintenance Tips For After Your Ride
The good news is that riding in the rain won’t necessarily damage your bike. If you take good care of it afterward, then you may not have most of the problems we talked about earlier.
Rust and corrosion, especially, can at least be somewhat avoided if you take special care of your bike keep riding in the rain at a relative minimum.
First of all, it’s key to disclaim that this isn’t necessarily true for all bikes. You should pay attention to the make and model of your bike, and what materials its parts are made of.
Some bikes are better suited to more frequent rain exposure than others, and that is definitely the topic of the research that you should do before investing in a bike if you rain bike often.
Second of all, it’s up to you to make sure these things don’t happen! Sure, some things are up to regular wear and tear, but some of the adverse effects of mountain biking in the rain are manageable if not completely avoidable.
If you invest just a little time and energy into bike maintenance, you’ll get the longest lifespan of your bike possible.
Having said all of that, it’s time to get into how you can best maintain your bike after your scenic mountain bike ride in the rain.
How To Maintain Your Bike:
- Clean it
- Keep the chain lubricated
- Regularly maintain your bike
There is absolutely no more important step for maintaining your bike as long as possible than to clean it.
If you can clean your bike as soon as you’re back from your ride, you can prevent much of the grime, rust, buildup, and corrosion that can destroy a bike if you’re not careful.
Fortunately, cleaning a bike is actually not all that difficult. You will really only need a few things you’ll need to get so that you can get your bike as shiny and sparkling clean as it was when you bought it.
What To Use For Mountain Bike Cleaning:
- Degreaser: Use this for your bike chain to remove grime and buildup.
- Bike wash spray: Use this for your entire bike. It’s best to wet your bike first, and then spray the bike wash on top.
- Brush: After you’ve used the spray, use a brush to remove excess water and any dirt left on the bike.
- Water: Rinse the bike with new water, and voila! You’ve completely cleaned your bike in just a few steps. Now you’re ready to store it inside your garage, or maybe hop back on for your next adventure!
Lubricating the chain is simple but overlooked in terms of its importance.
While keeping your bike as clean as possible will prevent a lot of the damage rain can do to a bike, lubricating is an extra step that will keep your bike moving like new even after several rain trips. Just use bike lube after your clean to keep the chain moving smoothly.
This last step of maintenance can make or break your bike. Because you are not riding in the best of conditions, you’ll want to make sure that your bike is operating as well as it can.
Whenever you see or feel something wrong with your bike – a chain loose, or brake not working as well as it used to – take it to your local bike shop as soon as you can.
While you might think the issue is small, it could be the difference between a bike that works well for several more years and one that gives out early because its problems were exasperated by bad weather conditions.
Just this little extra care and attention for your bike can save your beloved bike for many more rainy day adventures yet to come.