You’ve left your bike outside, and it rains. That’s ok, life happens, and you can’t control the weather.
Maybe you left it out on purpose. That’s ok too.
Your bike is resilient and can survive the rain, which means if you don’t have covered storage, a garage or indoor storage for your bicycle, you don’t have to worry about leaving your bike in the rain.
However, before you leave your bike to its own devices against the weather, we should warn you that doing so is universally not recommended.
While your bike can tolerate the rain, the water can wear away at the object over time, causing damage that may be irreparable.
Instead of facing a potential bike replacement, brush up on everything you need to know about a bikes’ water damage.
Luckily, we’ve compiled a guide for you.
Keep reading for more information about the effects rain has on bicycles and the preventative measures you can take to protect your bike.
The Effects of Leaving You Bike in the Rain
No matter your bike’s condition, old or new, store-bought or used, weather can take its toll on the object, mostly rain.
If you leave your bike in rain, the water works its way into tiny, vital mechanisms and begins to erode them.
More specifically, rust will form, build up, and break down the bike.
If you store your bike outside and it rains a couple of times, you needn’t worry; that’s not enough time for the water to cause any real damage.
However, if you live in an area with frequent rainfall and leave your bike outside continuously in those conditions, you will see a noticeable difference in the bike’s state sooner rather than later.
While rain affects all bikes, newer bikes have more modern updates to sustain the damages for longer than an older model, such as water-resistant paints, high-quality hub seals, and aluminum frames.
That’s not to say you have to junk your old bike and buy a new one.
You can slow and prevent corrosion by taking proper care of your bike.
The cushioned seat is most susceptible to rain because it’s a piece of fabric rather than a metal that is harder to protect from water completely.
It may be difficult to dry completely after a lot of rain, and if the seat consistently succumbs to rain, it can grow mold.
Mold will eat away at the fabric, produce unfavorable smells and is just unhygienic to consistently sit on from day-to-day.
You can get new upholstering for your seat or waterproofing sprays to combat the potential mold.
If you’re in the market for a new bike, your best bet is to look for a seat cushion that is made from waterproof materials already.
What About Electric Bikes and Parts?
Electric bikes are a bit different from the standard, manual bikes in both appearance and water-resistance.
Most companies that produce electric bicycles design the bikes to resist water to a certain degree, such as water bottle spills, sweat, or splashes of water from riding through puddles or along the beach.
They typically come proofed for everyday water-related accidents.
However, the bicycles’ quality of waterproofing means your electric bike may be resistant to rainfall as well.
These bikes have ratings called IP ratings that can tell you how resilient to water they are.
For a high-quality waterproof bike, it will have an IP rating of three or four.
If you don’t have an electric bike but want to know about your bike’s lights, you don’t have to worry.
Manufacturers design many lights, whether bought separately or attached, to resist water, similar to an electric bikes’ design.
Although, if you bought these parts separately to connect to your back as needed, you might want to remove them before storing your bike outside, just in case.
How to Prevent Corrosion and Mold
Whether you don’t have indoor storage, garage space, can’t lug your bike up flights of stairs to your apartment, or know that you plan to store your bike outside, there are some preventative measures you can take to protect the item from rain.
Here’s what we suggest.
Oiling and WD-40
Since the chain and other vital, exposed metal parts corrode quicker than the larger, covered or coated portions of the bike.
It’s essential that you oil or spray WD-40 on those parts to maintain your bike’s lifespan and health.
In doing so, you’re improving the parts’ mobility, which is an aspect of corrosion from the rain.
If you know you’re going to leave your bike out in the rain, take preventative measures.
It would be best to apply a waterproofing solution to your bike, not just the chain but the bike entirely, if you want to sustain its lifespan for as long as possible.
Waterproofing will help prevent rainwater from permeating the bike, which ultimately slows the rate of corrosion.
It will also help the drying process as you won’t have to dry as thoroughly as you would have to if left out to soak, particularly concerning the cushioned seat.
If you want to take waterproofing a step further, you can reupholster or replace your bike seat with a water-resistant fabric.
In doing so, you’ll protect your cushion from water damage and ultimately mold.
Replacing the saddle is a step you probably don’t need to consider if you only leave your bike outside from time to time.
Drying is crucial to maintaining your bike.
Just as waterproofing prevents rain from permeating the intricate mechanisms that make your bike move, drying helps prevent it as well.
After a downpour or even a drizzle, take a cloth and wipe down your bike thoroughly to protect it from further damage that rain may cause.
Especially for your bike seat, you want to soak up as much water as possible with a towel or cloth.
Since many bike seats consist of soft fabric for comfort, they can retain a lot of water that needs an equal amount of attention to dry correctly.
To complete an extra thorough drying job, you can take a leaf-blower and go to town blasting your bike with the powerful air stream.
A leaf blower is the best option because it can reach all of the tiny crevices that your hand can’t, but a towel will work as well.
Check Your Brakes
If you don’t have squeeze-pad brakes (the brakes located on your handlebars), you need to check out the paddles and the wheels to make sure there isn’t any water build-up around them.
Rainwater can get into these mechanisms and make it harder for you to slow down.
When riding your bike, the last thing you want is to lose control of your brakes and zoom down a steep hill or blow through a stop sign.
So, to ensure your brakes remain in good condition, wipe them down thoroughly after the rain and give them a whirl before setting out on a long ride.
Hop on your bike and ride slowly, occasionally pumping the breaks to test them.
Testing the breaks and pads will also help scrape off any build-up the rain may have deposited.
If you store your bicycle outside in the rain from time to time, your bike will survive.
If you store your bike outside consistently in the rain, you may have to do some damage control.
But, before worst comes to worst, you should familiarize yourself with the potential effects that rain has on bicycles.
Nevertheless, you should prepare yourself for the worst, just in case.
Whether you leave it outside a couple of times or store it outside all of the time, as long as you practice routine maintenance and tend to dry and proof your bicycle when you know it will rain, your bike will be fine.