So I guess you are thinking of longboarding in the rain, right? And get questions like – can you longboard in the rain or after rain? Is it bad for your longboard? And how to make your longboard waterproof? I had the same questions in the beginning and I came up with this guide to share what I have learned.
To answer in a few words – yes, you can longboard in the rain or after and it is a lot of fun. But you have to know a few important details before you do. Also, you must take care of your longboard before and after riding in the rain to make sure that it does not get damaged. And we’ll show you how.
What are the pros and cons of longboarding in the rain?
So you might have heard or seen different perspectives on longboarding in the rain. Some say that it is loads of fun and a great way to learn some techniques. Other people say that it is really bad for your board, dangerous for you and totally not worth it. I have summarized the pros and cons for longboarding in the rain below.
- More experience as a rider – riding on wet pavement or road is a bit different from riding a dry one. You have to be more careful while turning and more careful in general when in reaching higher speed. Riding in the rain will develop you as a more universal and experienced rider
- Learning sliding – when you ride on a wet surface with your longboard, there is less traction. That means that you can break in to slides much easier than on dry surfaces. This is especially helpful for beginner riders who difficulties sliding. Trying to slide in the rain is a pretty common way to learn sliding quicker than learning only on dry surfaces
- Fun Fun Fun – if you have tried it you know what I mean. If you have not – it is just a different feeling riding your board in the rain or just right after it. Check out the video below for proof:
- Slippery road – as already mentioned, riding on a wet surface is different in a way that there is less traction between the wheel and the road. That means that you must be extra careful, especially when taking turns. If you make a turn too quickly or the turn is too sharp, because of the slippery surface, your board can easily slide from beneath your feet and you will fall. Also, you must be really careful when reaching high speeds, the same applies as with making turns, because of the wet surface you are more likely to lose control than on a dry one
- Damage to your board – this one is a big con. If you do not take care of your board and do not maintain it after riding in the rain, it will get damaged. If you do not leave your board to dry, it will get waterlogged which will make the wood of the deck weak and more prone to warping
- Rusted bearings – as with damaging your board, you can damage your bearings too. If you do not clean them, your bearings will start to rust. Most likely you will not see a big difference in the very beginning but after some time you will notice your board starting to slow down. You must clean your bearings to avoid that
What does water do to your longboard?
Can longboard wheels get wet and are ceramic bearings actually waterproof?
So let’s take a look at what rain or water actually does to your longboard and let’s start with wheels and bearings. And here the good news come first – nothing bad happens to your wheels. It will get wet and it might get a bit dirty but it’s nothing negative in the long term that would affect the wheel.
But when the wheels get wet, they do actually lose a bit of traction with the road. This means that you have to be a bit more careful when taking turns and of course, wear a helmet and safety pads! But I guess you always do, right?
Now let’s talk bearings. This is the part of the longboard which goes bad fastest after getting it wet if you do not look after it. It is important to understand how the rust process occurs. Nothing bad actually happens to your bearings when you ride your board in the rain. They start to rust once you come back home wet, tired, too lazy to clean them and dry the bearings. That’s when the rust hits. And once rust kicks in, your bearings will start losing speed.
In order to avoid that you must clean and dry your bearings (and other parts of the board) after riding in the rain. If you hate doing that, you could buy ceramic bearings. Some ceramic bearings are waterproof while some are only water resistant. Both are expensive. And you don’t want expensive bearings which are only water resistant if you are buying them solely for the purpose of riding when it’s wet.
If the bearings are only water resistant or waterproof depends on if the whole bearing is made of ceramic or only some parts of it are. So don’t get too happy when bearings are labelled as ‘Ceramic’. Before buying you have to determine if the bearings are full ceramic or hybrid ceramic. Full ceramic bearings are rust proof while the hybrid ones are only rust resistant. Usually you will encounter hybrid ceramic bearings and the full ceramic ones are really expensive.
Whether you go with normal bearings or ceramic bearings. Your setup will need maintenance and your attention. Standard bearings might need a bit more of drying but on the other hand, when you use ceramic bearings it’s not like you buy it and forget about it. Ceramic bearings still have to be re-oiled or re-applied with a speed cream which will get washed out of the bearings in some time when riding wet streets.
How would longboarding in the rain affect your deck if you do not look after it?
Ok, we have covered wheels and bearings, let’s move on to decks. So what could go wrong here? Well two things basically:
- Your deck will get wet and if you don’t dry it, it might warp given some time
- Your grip tape will get wet and dirty. If you don’t clean it, it will start losing its grip and might get slippery
So when we are talking about deck warping I have a very good example for you. Wonder why? It happened to me. Check out the image. So what warp means is that longboard deck loses its shape. As you can see three of the four corners of the deck are of the same height but the last one, the bottom right one, is much lower than the other three. This is an example of a warped deck. What it does in reality is makes your ride difficult and risky.
And what about grip tape? Well, grip tape gets dirty whether you ride in the rain or not. It might be that it gets a bit dirtier if you step in to wet mud during the rain. And after the mud dries on your grip tape, it kind of soaks in. If you don’t clean it off from time to time, time will come when the grip tape will lose its grip. And you must avoid this, trust me. You have to feel stable and the board has to be reliable. The function of the grip tape is not to look clean, it must be rough and clean enough to hold your weight while you are moving, taking turns or pumping for example. If it is too dirty, it cannot fully function. Which will result in you losing grip with your board and crashing.
As with bearings, the same with your deck and grip tape. You must take care of it for the board to last longer and for you to ride safer and more comfortably.
How does riding on wet streets affect other parts of the board: axles, spacers and other
Back to some good news for the lazy people out there (aren’t we all?). Axles and spacers are some of the parts where you can slack a bit with cleaning. These parts will still get affected by water and axles with spacers will most likely rust but it’s not that bad compared to the deck and the bearings.
When your axles and spacers rust it should not have any direct effect on your ride. It might have some negative effects if you don’t clean the rust like forever – it might get difficult to unscrew some parts if they are all covered in rust. But in general it should be fine if you clean it from time to time. Also, current generation trucks are quite water resistant, so it shouldn’t rust right away. Of course, if you are drying and cleaning your whole board you should dry the axles down too.
Tips on longboarding in the rain: before, during and after
If you are still reading, I assume that you did not get discouraged about the needed maintenance of the board. So here are some tips for you to get you started.
Before your ride:
- Consider having a longboard for the rainy day – this is my approach. I have a few boards that I ride. But I don’t ride in the rain with my main board because, honestly, I am a bit lazy with the maintenance part. So for rainy days I use my cheap board. I do maintain it (from time to time) but if something goes bad, it’s not a big deal, it cost me about 70$, I just equipped it with a bit better bearings
- Check your deck for scratches – if your deck has scratches or you have hit a curb hard with it, keep in mind that it will be more prone to warping than a totally new and unused deck. So if you are using a scratched but expensive deck and decide to go for a session in the rain, drying it afterwards is a must
- Top mount in the rain – if you have a few boards or choosing a board for rainy days, go for the top mount. Or a board which covers at least a part of the wheels. If you don’t, you will be covered in water in dirt
- If your deck has scratches, seal it – maybe it sound’s expensive or difficult but it isn’t. You can use most of the water resistant materials, for example – paint, hair spray, shoe water repellent or floor sealer. Just make sure that you spray your wooden parts, don’t spray on the grip tape
- Use cheaper bearings – consider using some cheap bearings for riding in the rain. So if something does go wrong it doesn’t cost you too much
- Longboard in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty – you will get all wet and most likely dirty too. So make sure that you are wearing something not too expensive. I would avoid riding a board in a high end tuxedo when it rains
- Wear slipper resistant shoes – since the longboard is controlled with your feet make sure that you wear shoes which are not slippery. The grip tape of the deck will get wet and if you add slippery shoes – this calls for trouble and we all know how it ends
- Rain wheels baby – if you already tried riding in the rain and it was too slippery for you. Consider buying a set of rain wheels. They provide more consistent traction with the road when it is wet. If you don’t want to buy them or have a second set of wheels, you can DIY. Just don’t play around with an expensive set of wheels. See how to modify your wheels so they gain more traction in the rain below
- Helmet and safety pads ON – this is the most important part. Before you start riding make sure you have helmet and safety pads. Riding in the rain is riskier than your usual rides so please take care of your safety accordingly
- Puddles are a no go – ride around puddles. And there are a few reasons for this. First is that if you avoid riding over puddles, you will for sure get less water on your board and in your bearings. The second is that you don’t usually know what is inside it. So something that looks like an innocent puddle could actually be a pretty huge hole or a missing paving stone. And you will most likely crash hard. So, be smart about it
- Careful with those turns – as I mentioned, be extra careful on the turns. I have heard and read numerous stories how longboarders who were trying riding in the rain for the first time crashed while turning
- Be aware of the little things – even such things as painted lines on the road could get you off of your board. So make sure you are aware of your surroundings and the road ahead. Everything is a bit riskier when it’s raining
- Avoid letting your longboard go – you should avoid letting your board run away from you. And hit something like a curb. If it does happen and your deck ‘opens up’ a bit and water gets in, this is bad news. Go home and try it at once because if you stay in the rain for long, water will get inside the wood and it will warp
- Center your weight on top of the board – if you lean out too much while turning, the board will slip out underneath your feet. So make sure that you bend your knees and steer with your ankles more than weight
After your ride:
- Disassemble your board and dry it – unscrew your wheels, get your bearings out, unscrew other parts and dry with a rug first. Then get a hair dryer or something that blows warm air and dry your deck and other parts
- Unscrew the kingpin – kingpin is a part which would cost a few dollars tops to replace but if it starts to rust and you forget to clean it, then given some time, you will not be able to unscrew it. And that means that you are not able to loosen or tighten your trucks afterwards which is a bummer because new trucks cost much more that unscrewing the kingpin after your ride
- Keep it dry – most likely you will not get all of the water out even drying it with a hair dryer. Therefore, keep your board in a dry place. Don’t just hair dry it and drag it outside again, keep it dry for a few days
- Keep your deck above the ground – after you have disassembled your board, initially dried it and want to leave it to fully dry, make sure that your deck is above the surface it is laying on. Not right on top of it. You can use your wheels, put them on the ground and put the deck on your wheels.
- Take care of your bearings the right way – some people just clean their bearings and forget about it. This is a bad idea. If you just clean your bearings and don’t apply any type of bearing lubricant, you will destroy it. So do it the right way – clean the bearings with mineral spirits, acetone or other solvents, let them dry for a day and then apply bearings lubricant or speed cream
- Spin the wheels – if you are lazy and skipped the above tips after the ride, at least spin the wheels. Do it every few hours after you have finished your rainy session. When you spin the wheels, at least some water will come out of the bearing and hopefully minimize the rust
Enjoy the ride
Let me sum it up. Rain can be both really dangerous to you and your board or a really fun new adventure. And it all depends on you and how you are going to approach it. I hope that you will use at least some of the tips that I have provided. It should make your ride in the rain more pleasant, safe and it will help you to prolong the life of your board.
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or just want to have a chat, leave me a comment or hit me up via the contact form.
Enjoy the ride!
P.S. Shout-out to Markus Blessing and his camera crew for the awesome featured image (https://blog.lookat.io/2015/08/20/augusts-best-independent-video/).
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