Most often I need to carry my mountain bike with my car (bike car rack) to get to new trails and I don’t have any control over the weather. Sometimes it is sunny outside and I get repaired for an epic ride, in the middle of the car ride it starts to rain and my mountain bike is left exposed on the car roof. So can a mountain bike get wet?
Mountain bikes have sealed hubs, sealed bottom brackets, forks are sealed as well, and everything else is only marginally affected by plain water. But still, if it remains wet for long periods of time it can lead to corrosion and other problems, so it is recommended to dry it as fast as possible.
Knowing what effect does bad weather has on your mountain bike it is important because it will influence the amount of bike maintenance you need to do. In this article, I will tell you how bad is the rain for your bike, how bad is washing your bike with water, and if riding in the rain will damage your mountain bike. So keep reading!
Is It Bad for Your Mountain Bike If It Gets Rained On?
Good mountain bikes are made from tough and reliable parts that are designed to withstand almost all weather conditions but there are still some components like the drivetrain that can suffer minor deterioration if exposed for long periods of time to rain.
If from time to time your mountain bike is getting rained on and you dried it up as soon as possible you probably will get away with it but if you let your bike in the rain for days without riding it or drying it you will suffer the consequences.
If you ride your bike after it rained on it because the wing will dry it everything will be alright. The problem is if whether enter your bearings or if exposed steal parts of your bike remain wet, they will be corroded in time.
So if the rain stop and you have the possibility to rub your bike with a dry piece of old clothing or something like that, it will go a long way in preventing rust and damaging the components of your bike.
So let us examine what are the most problematic bike parts to be exposed for a long period of time to water:
- Steal screws: even the more expensive mountain bikes will have screws that aren’t stainless steel, so dry them as quickly as possible
- Bottom brackets: even if bike manufacturers try to seal it as good as possible, sometimes water just gets in, just flip the bike once in a while with the seat off to drain it
- Headset: often they aren’t sealed properly, from time to time open it up and clean it
- Drivetrain: water washes up the grease from your cassette and chain, keep in mind that because we force the drivetrain by changing gears under load the steal will be revealed on the sprockets, water will make them rust
You will never be able to completely avoid rain so the most important part is what happens after, you need to make sure that you store your bike in a moisture-free room so it will dry completely, and using a piece of cloth to dry it is a good idea.
Water will corrode some of your bike’s components but it needs time to do that, if you don’t give it this time your bike will be rust-free.
The most important thing is to store your bike in a dry room and do not let it stay outside many days, or you will encounter rust issues.
Is It Bad to Wash Your Bike with Water?
Washing your mountain bike with water will not damage it if you don’t use a pressure washer and if you dry it well afterward. The best way to wash your bike is by spraying it with a garden hose and afterward using a piece of cloth to dry it.
Pressure washing your mountain bike is bad because it can get water in your bearings and you will have to service them, if you can’t do it yourself it can get costly.
The problem is not getting your bike wet but how long it will remain like that.
You need to pay attention to your still cables (shifters, break if they aren’t hydraulic), good cables are stainless steel but on lower budget bikes they are just normal steal or lower quality stainless steel (you can put in quotes stairwell here) and they will roast and will need to be replaced.
Does Riding in the Rain Damage Your Mountain Bike?
Riding in the rain will expose your bike to water and mud, a muddy drivetrain will wear off quickly and will have an increased chance to become rusty but this is nothing that a proper cleaning after the ride can’t fix.
So yes you can ride your mountain bike in the rain but you have to clean it thoroughly when you get home.
Here is what you need to do after a ride in the rain so your bike will not get damaged:
- Wash your mountain bike: spray it with a garden hose when it is still wet to wash the mud away, insist on the chain, tires, frame, and the derailleurs
- Brush your chain and cassette: mud will stick on your chain and cassette because of the grease, use a brush to properly clean your chain and cassette, I take down my chain and cassette once a month to clean them, it helps a lot
- Dry your bike: while your bike with a cloth and let it dry at normal room temperature, you need to store it in a room without moisture so it will properly dry (so it will not rust)
- Lubricate your chain: you need to repair your drivetrain for the next ride
If you have a full-suspension bike pay attention to the extra bearings on your frame, dry them as quickly as possible, if water gets in them they will not work properly and you will have to service them, and for this, you will need a torque ranch (or go to a bike service, still it will be costly).
If you properly dry your mountain bike and then store it in a moist-free room there will be no problem if it gets wet.
The many problems are when you don’t clean all the mud away after a ride in the rain. Getting dirty is one of the most fun things in mountain biking, but not properly cleaning your bike will become costly very quickly.
Give some love to your bike and it will give it back on the trails, don’t overlook the cleaning part after a muddy ride. Some newbies do this and they end up paying the price for it.
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I started mountain biking many years ago to improve my overall health state. After my first ride, I fell in love with the sport. Now I spend dozens of hours a week researching and training to compete in local XC and Enduro events.