Bikes can and will get wet. Especially if you are using it for your daily commute or regularly take your bike on longer rides when it can be too late to get home in time to stay dry by the time it starts raining.
Bicycles are designed to be used in all weather conditions and will still work during a heavy downpour. However, if you fail to look after your bike after it has gotten wet properly, that is when problems can occur.
What happens when you ride your bike in the rain?
As mentioned earlier, riding your bike in the rain is not a problem! I’m sure there are some crazy expensive, finicky bike out there that can’t be, however generally speaking they can be ridden in the deepest rain storm.
Although your bike’s degradation and rust will not happen overnight or after being caught out in a couple of light showers throughout the year, you should look after your bike and dry it off as soon as possible once you have finished the ride.
Also, regularly clean and put lube on your chain. Such a small investment will save you from buying a new chain or taking it to your local bike shop every couple of months (it also helps maintain a smooth ride and improves efficiency).
Keeping your bike in tip-top shape while it is raining is what will keep your bike in good riding condition!
What happens when you leave your bike outside?
A lot of the components and parts of a bicycle are susceptible to rusting. Take a minute to look at your bike and notice just how many parts are made of metal. To mention a few, you will have a chain, sprockets, brakes, brake cables, gear levers… you get the message.
If you leave all these parts to get wet without cleaning or degreasing them regularly, you will dramatically shorten their lifespan. It may start with some annoying sounds, such as a squeaky chain, but if left ignored, it could worsen and result in the chain snapping mid-ride (not a fun experience).
Finally, you will also find that your paint on the bike begins to fade, leaving it without that nice sheen that it used to have.
You can store your bike outside but…
For the reasons stated above, leaving your bicycle to the mercy of the elements every night will shorten its lifespan. If you live somewhere that never rains, then you may be alright (please let me know where you live). If, like most of us, you risk your bike getting wet when left outside, invest in a waterproof bicycle cover.
Not everyone has the luxury of keeping their bike indoors. So by covering your bike with a waterproof cover, not only does it prevent it from getting wet, but it also acts as a deterrent to would-be bicycle thieves.
I am not suggesting you do not need to lock it up, but a bicycle cover adds another layer of protection, not just against your beloved bicycle getting wet.
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Your bike can get wet and it will survive if left outside. However, you need to look after it properly so that you do not need to continuously replace your bike’s parts to keep it on the road.
If you absolutely have to leave your bike outside, it is definitely best to find a covered area, or even better a shed.