Most cyclists take extra precautions with the gear they choose in wet or windy conditions, but adjusting how you ride in inclement weather is perhaps even more important—and it's often overlooked. If you want to stay safe when it starts to rain, learning how and when to brake is a critical element to staying upright on the bike.
Traditional pull-cable brakes on road bikes work well with little maintenance in dry conditions, but when it's raining, things can get slippery quick. Decreased traction and the performance of rubber brake pads on metal rims are just a few of the obstacles you'll have to overcome to stay safe on the road.
Luckily, with a few tips, riding in the rain can be safe and enjoyable, as long as you're prepared. Stay safe and enjoy your ride in wet weather with these seven tips.
1. Slow down gradually. In wet weather, it takes longer to slow down or come to a complete stop. Start braking well before you would in dry conditions, especially when approaching a corner. This will keep you from slamming on the brakes too late, and it'll give you enough time to slow to a safe speed.
2. Drag both brakes lightly on the rim when you come to a stop. This will help to clear excess water off the surface of the rim. Remember to give yourself more time and space.
3. Make sure you have plenty of brake pad left before you leave the house. Wet rims will disintegrate a pair of brake pads, so make sure you've got plenty of rubber left before you begin your ride. If you ride in wet conditions often, you might want to consider purchasing pads specifically for wet conditions.
4. Leave your carbon rims at home. If there's a chance of showers, rims with an aluminum-braking surface are probably your best bet. Carbon rims perform just as well as aluminum in the rain, but the cork brake pads needed for carbon rims aren't a good choice.
5. Replace old brake cables. You probably won't realize it when it's dry, but in wet conditions, you'll notice that old cables make your brakes significantly less responsive. This can be a scary feeling when you're headed down a steep descent, and it can make you lose control of your bike.
6. Don't brake on painted lines. In general, it's a good idea to stay off the white lines on the road when it's raining. They're slick and make braking even more dangerous in bad weather.
7. When wet conditions start to dry, be careful. Once the water is off of your wheel, your brake pads will grab the surface of the rim like they're supposed to. This can cause problems if the road is still slick, and it could cause you to skid. Avoid an accident by braking gradually, even when things are drying out.Search for a cycling event.