April showers bring May flowers, right? Well, we’re not quite into April yet, but many places across the country are experiencing the wet-weather woes at this time of year. Luckily for us mountain bike riders, that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. But, with wet-weather riding, there are some considerations that need to be made. So, we’ve put together 10 pieces of must-have knowledge for staying safe and staying efficient in wet-weather conditions on your mountain bike.
Hop Over Obstacles
It’s worth saying that this tip really only applies to those who are very comfortable on a mountain bike and know how to bunny hop. The technique requires a bit of practice, but it can be pretty handy in wet weather situations. After all -- you can’t slip if you’re not on the ground, right? Try bunny hopping over some obstacles like small roots and rocks. Of course, be extra careful on your landing, and don’t attempt this if you do not feel comfortable.
Use a Mudguard
Mud spraying up your back is more than just a cosmetic issue. Mud carries grit and particles that can get into the sensitive mechanics of your bike. On wet-weather days, this danger is especially ever-present. So, we suggest using a mudguard like the Dirt HDPE flexible fender mudguard. The Dirt mudguard is lightweight enough that it virtually adds no weight to your bike, while being sturdy enough to survive the rainiest and wettest conditions.
Ride Actively, Not Passively
Although you are ‘riding your bike,’ try to think in a less passive way. Consider that you should also be controlling your bike. By ensuring that you are in constant control of your machine (and not the other way around), you can ride more effectively over obstacles and around turns. Having an alert, active mindset when riding will also ensure that you can respond sufficiently to any challenges on your path.
Choose The Smoothest Route
This isn’t meant exclusively for wet weather conditions, in fairness, but it applies doubly so on rainy days. You should look several feet ahead of where your bike is to pick the clearest, cleanest, and smoothest route through any obstacles. While this can make you lose some speed, it’s going to keep you safe and effective while riding. After all, what’s the point in saving two seconds if you break a leg doing it?
Mount Organic Brake Pads
For us, this is a hugely underrated tip for wet-weather riding. Rain often means cold weather, and those two conditions combine to have a very negative impact on metal brake pads. So, try to mount organic brake pads. These provide the same stopping power, no matter the weather or conditions. For a ‘best of both worlds’ option, semi-metallic brake pads are also available for rainy day use.
In wet weather, ‘grip’ is the name of the game. And that doesn’t just mean your mountain bike’s grip on the trail, no -- it also applies for the rider’s grip on the bike. For maximum control over your bike in rainy conditions, Dirt gloves are the name to know. Our gloves are engineered to handle anything you throw at them, including the intense demands of wet-weather riding.
Avoid Sudden Changes Of Direction
This one ties in well with our “Choose the Smoothest Ride” tip. When riding in wet weather conditions, we strongly suggest that you keep a loose, free-flowing form and try to avoid sudden jerks or shifts in direction. These types of sudden movements are going to be the ones that slip you up and send you over the handlebars. Yes, you might lose a few seconds of speed, but in rainy conditions, that’s just how it goes.
Use The Brakes
Not always what mountain bike riders want to hear, but we suggest moderating speed when riding in muddy or slippery conditions. Wet surfaces mixed with high speed means low control, and that spells certain disaster for most riders. At lower speeds, you’ll be able to move more efficiently over terrain and detect more ideal trajectories.
Pay Attention When Handling CurvesWe try to avoid putting ‘no brainers’ on our tips and tricks, but this one bears repeating. The curves and turns are going to present the highest risk portions of a course, so it’s critical to ride deliberately through these sections. Try to use as much of the side of your tire as possible. This will increase the footprint of your wheel and give you better traction in wet-weather conditions.