Tips for Cycling to Work in Bad Weather

Your Bad Weather Cycling Survival Guide for Work

Cycling in bad weather can be rough, both on your bike and yourself.

Maybe you’re one of the hardcore heroes who cycles to work no matter the weather. Or maybe you’re a fair weather cyclist (no judgement) who just wants to know how to prepare in case you get caught out on a day that turns, leaving you no choice except to brave the bad weather to get back home.

Here are our five top tips to cycle as comfortably as possible in bad weather.

Be More Cautious Than Usual

If the weather is bad, it can be tempting to speed your way home to shelter before it gets even worse. But, in a situation where the roads are already wet, painted lines, crosswalks, and steel grates can become slippery - and the faster you’re going, the less time you have to react if you lose traction.

It’s up to you to make a judgment call on whether it’s safe to cycle home or if it’s better to take shelter. If bad weather hits when you’re completely unprepared for it, you might just have to break Rule 5 and wait it out until the weather clears up enough to ride.

Even the most dedicated commuter cyclists have a limit, and you should always put your safety before your ego.

For added peace of mind, make sure that your bike is insured with us.

Clean Your Bike After Every Ride

Yes, every time. Some cyclists swear by cleaning their bike after every ride regardless of the season, but if a full clean is too much for you, you should at least be wiping down your bike after every ride.

Snow, slush, rain, and road salt can all do to your bike in winter what dust does in summer: It gets into nooks and crannies and starts to rust or seize parts.

You should be particularly aware of snow and water because in the winter months, the weather isn’t warm enough for evaporation to take place before they work their way into parts that are tricky to clean.

In short, it saves you a lot of time and effort to give your bike a quick wipe-down after every ride rather than doing a big clean every now and then, because by that point the damage might already be done.

Keep Your Lights On

While all cyclists will know to use their light in poor visibility or in the evenings, it can be easy to forget that in winter you may need it during the day too - bad weather can come on at any moment and you don’t want to be caught without lights.

Remember, lights aren’t just to illuminate your path. Half of their purpose is to ensure that you’re visible to motorists. Even if you can see clearly enough that you think you don’t need them, consider whether you’re visible to other road users.

Stay Warm (But Not Hot)

The most important factor to consider while cycling in bad weather is keeping yourself warm and dry. After all, there’s no point in trying to brave the bad weather if you’re wet, cold, and uncomfortable - you’ll likely lose all motivation after the first couple of rides.

As the saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Figuring out how to keep yourself warm and dry (without getting hot and sweaty) is an art and can only truly be achieved by learning what works best for you. Here are some tips you can try for finding your perfect balance:

  • When it comes to cycling in bad weather, waterproof, windproof, and thermal clothing are your best friends. Thick clothing may be tempting, but you’re likely to find yourself getting sweaty even when the weather is wet - so breathability is vital.
  • The old wive’s tale that you lose 30% of your body heat via your head isn’t totally accurate, but you do lose a lot of heat from your head. Consider wearing a cycling cap, helmet cover, or aero cover to keep the warmth in.
  • Cycling in cold temperatures can make your eyes water - literally. Wear a pair of glasses (ideally with clear lenses if there isn’t much sun) and a buff to keep your face and eyes from getting icy. If you’re cycling in the rain, don’t wear glasses unless they’re hydrophobic, or wear a cycling cap to stop the rain from getting directly into your eyes.

Get a Commuter Backpack

You can do everything right to prepare yourself and your bike for cycling to work in bad weather - but if you arrive at the office with soaked paperwork or a laptop that’s gotten wet, you’re going to have a bad time no matter what. Enter the commuter backpack!

The ideal backpack should be waterproof and big enough to hold everything you need, without being so large that it’s difficult to cycle with. Remember to consider whether you want your backpack to be able to hold your helmet - some even have straps or hooks that you can attach your helmet to when you’re not wearing it.

Here are some additional things to consider when looking for a commuter backpack:

  • Do you want to use it throughout all four seasons? If so, ensure it’s both breathable (so your back doesn’t get too sweaty in summer) and waterproof for rainy days.
  • Do you mix cycling to work with commuting via public transport? Make sure your bag isn’t so large that it gets in the way on a crowded train, subway, or bus.
  • If you often stop by the grocery store on your commute, consider getting a backpack that can also hold your groceries.
  • Make sure your commuter backpack has padded shoulder straps, especially if you have a long ride to work.
  • There are some backpacks that can attach to a pannier with extra shoulder straps for off-bike use.

For added peace of mind make sure that your bicycle is covered in case something does happen on your commute.

Follow the prompts below to find out more about our cover and receive a quick quote.

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