Riding your gravel bike in the wet and rain?

This month I planned a gravel ride on some of my favourite trails. However, on the day, the weather was less than ideal with the forecast showing 90% chance of rain throughout the day…

I had waterproof gear at the ready and therefore, no excuses to get out and test the Merlin Malt G2X on the sloppiest of trails and cycle paths. Would I regret the choice or enjoy braving the elements on a gravel bike? There was only one way to find out.

The Gear:

To make cold, rainy riding enjoyable, (especially with plenty of mud involved) you need decent waterproofs.

I decided to go with my trusty Endura GV500 Waterproof Trousers and Singletrack II Waterproof Jacket. These paired along with my Crono Winter Boots were my best bet to stay warm and protected from the sludge which had overtaken my summer gravel paths.

The Ride:

First up I hit my usual gravel trails and paths, taking me towards the Ferry Inn along the Sankey Valley and Trans Pennine Trails. For the most part these paths are nicely paved and with decent gear on, very enjoyable, (plus no rain spray from traffic).

The G2X handles nicely and the tyres as standard provided optimal grip on the wet surfaces.

As I made may way further along the trail, the conditions became much muddier, but the waterproof trousers held up very nicely against splashes and deep sections of puddles, keeping me dry underneath.

Bike Handling and Tyre Choice:

One thing about gravelling in the mud and sludge is that it does test your bike handling skills, especially if your tyres are on the slicker side. But despite this, I remained confident even through the muddiest sections of the canal and trails. Just take into consideration your average speed will likely be slower as you pick the best lines (especially close to water).

Changes in Terrain:

When I did reach paved areas, (especially ones like the cycle path seen below over the Runcorn bridge), I really did feel the difference in my speed. I would suggest planning some breaks from the non-paved sections of trail (if you are going to be riding for a few hours in heavy rain).

This made my ride a lot more enjoyable, after all varied terrain with a decent average speed is what gravel bikes are designed for… I also found the trails a refreshing break from an indoor training ride and much more enjoyable than a busy road full of flooded sections and car spray.

How to make the most of Gravel in poor riding conditions?

  • Recce your route or at least have options to reroute if your average speed becomes too sluggish due to poor riding conditions.
  • Making sure your gravel tyres have an aggressive tread can reduce unwanted wheelspin.
  • Waterproof gear ready or equipped to avoid getting soggy and cold.
  • If you are commuting in the rain, pick a route which won’t slow you down too much…
  • Have a nice brew or coffee to warm up and relax post ride…

So, while gravel riding is certainly still possible regardless of the weather, make sure you have the right gear to get the job done and keep things fun rather than sinking in the mud or getting drenched in the rain!

“The best possible gear, provides the best possible ride.” – Rob Warren


  • Alex Cowie

    Outdoor Leadership and Coaching BA (Hons) Keen cyclist, runner, and outdoor enthusiast. I have been cycling since I was very young and always had a love for the outdoors. I have completed many long distance events including ultra marathons such as the Chester 100, Berkeley Marathons UK and Gravel Century rides.

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