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Wet Weather Riding

Riding your bike in wet weather can be fun, but you and your bike do need to be prepared. For you, that’s mostly just a matter of having and wearing the correct clothing. If you haven’t already read it, please refer to my Cold Weather Riding article for a thorough discussion of the appropriate clothing.

For your bike, there are some things you can add that can make wet weather riding much more comfortable and/or much more safe.

Headlights and Taillights

Rain is often accompanied by fog, which means drastically reduced visibility. While it’s bad enough that you can’t see your next turn coming up, it’s even worse that the drivers of cars and trucks can’t see you. Reflectors can help, but lights are much better. To be as safe as possible, you should have at least one headlight and at least one taillight. One product I love, because it combines both a headlight and taillight, is the Light and Motion Vis 360+ helmet light.

What’s so brilliant about it (get it? brilliant? sorry 🙁 ) is that the battery pack mounts to the rear of your helmet and has a built-in taillight. If you’re only going to have one light, this is the one you should have. BTW, they make a 360 version as well as the 360+ and the difference is that the 360+ provides a separate on/off switch for the taillight. That’s a nice feature if you want to ride trails at night because you can be sure there won’t be cars on the trails and turning off the taillight allows the battery to last a little longer.

What’s better than a headlight and a taillight? More than one, of course. For increased visibility, additional lights are worth the money. In addition to the Vis 360+, I also ride with a Light & Motion Imjin 800 front bike light mounted to my handlebars. Not only does this make me much more visible in traffic, but the combination of a helmet-mounted light plus a handlebar-mounted light gives me illumination everywhere I need it. The latter is particularly critical for trail riding at night.

A buddy of mine, Rich, takes it even further by adding a Light & Motion Vis 180 rear bike light to his bike. So when he’s commuting to/from work, he has two front-facing headlights and two rear-facing taillights. Wise man. Safety first. 🙂

Fenders

If you’ve ever ridden a bike without fenders in the rain, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Water coming off the rear tire paints a wet and dirty skunk strip across your back, and water coming off the front tire does the same thing to your face. 😳 Inexpensive fenders can solve this problem.

Because they have to be the correct width and also have the correct arc, fenders tend to be specific based on bike type (e.g., road, mountain, commuter) and also wheel size. My current favorite brand of fender is SKS because they make a quality line of products that is available in a wide array of models to accommodate virtually every bike. For example, on my primary go-to bike, a singlespeed 29er (for a discussion of mountain bike wheel sizes, see Mountain Bike Wheel Size), I have the SKS Shockblade II 29er front fender and the SKS X-Blade 29er Seatpost rear fender.

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