Splendid Cycles Big Sale

What are your best tips for staying warm and dry?

Posted by on October 22nd, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Rider in the storm.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)r

OK folks, it has begun. After an unnaturally long spell of dry and sunny weather, some wet and cold weather is here. This morning’s commute was probably the toughest one since the end of last winter. While I’d love to think that we all pay it no mind and continue on our merry biking ways, it does have an impact.

The bikeways are much less crowded than they were just a few weeks ago. Last week was the lowest count of trips on the Hawthorne Bridge recorded since the new counter went in back in August and Saturday’s 1,536 trips was the lowest ever recorded. But, as a photo shared by the BTA this morning shows, lots of folks are still riding!

For those of you who press on through the darkness, wetness, and the cold, what are your secrets?

I know there’s a group of you out there on the fence. You’ve gotten into riding and you’re committed; but without a bit of encouragement and gear advice, you might just hop on the bus, on the train, or — gasp! — get in your car.

I figure if we can share enough of the latest and greatest advice on gear and clothing, and share some encouraging words, we just might help a bunch of people keep on riding. One thing I’ve learned from doing this blog the past seven years is that well-timed information and inspiration can do great things. We had a bunch of great tips shared last time we did this back in January, but I figure it’s time for an update.

So, let’s have it.

Is wool still a rain rider’s best friend?
Poncho or jacket?
Do you prefer to get wet and stay warm or stay dry and overheat?
What about the kids? (Do bike trains still run in the rain?)
Where can I get a rain cover for my bakfiets?
Who makes the best fenders?

Thanks for sharing your tips and advice. If this works, we’ll see a lot more people smiling in the rain like our friend Joel…

BTA New Year's Day Ride-23

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Mike
Guest

Embro on the legs of course. Nothing worse than soggy leg and knee warmers sapping the heat out of your kickers.

Gary Charles
Guest
Gary Charles

What is embro?

Randall S.
Guest
Randall S.

It’s short for Embrocation. It’s stuff (usually a cream) that you rub on your legs to keep them warm.

Spiffy
Guest

gross! I wouldn’t want that rubbing around in my pants while I’m walking around work all day… and wouldn’t it attract dirt to my clothes?

I guess it’s something more for competitive cycling than for getting to work… *shrug*

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

Yeah it’s for long, wet, cold training and racing rides. Wouldn’t be worth the application for a 30-odd minute ride to the office.

Over and Doubt
Guest
Over and Doubt

When worlds collide–within the allegedly monolithic “bike community,” no less.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

A helmet cover.

Warmth & dryness & ultra-dorkiness, all wrapped up in one hideous but functional package.

Mike Fish
Guest
Mike Fish

I just put duct tape/electrical tape over the vents when the rains start and take it off in July.

Ed
Guest
Ed

Did my 7-mi commute this AM in my new Showers Pass Hybrid Zipoff pants, which cost me a little over $80. As advertised, not water “proof”. My legs did feel wet. But I was never cold and they were almost dry by the time I got to the locker room. My 10-yr-old REI jacket is waterproof, and I’ve always worn 1-3 layers underneath that. I wear a beanie under my helmet, which has a visor to keep some of the rain off my glasses, when it gets a bit colder than this. I previously wore a pair of tights kind of like my new pants, rain “resistant” and providing insulation even when wet, ’til they started to seaparate at the crotch. I’ve got Keen bike shoes and cheap shoe covers. Total investment in rain gear might come to $20-$30 per yr. I’ve always found that the fear of discomfort I get when seeing and hearing the rain otuside on awakening is never matched by the actual experience when riding in it. Once I’ve ridden the first mile or so equipped as above, I’m always feeling pretty comfortable and glad I got on my bike instead of in my car.

9watts
Guest
9watts

well said:
“I’ve always found that the fear of discomfort I get when seeing and hearing the rain otuside on awakening is never matched by the actual experience when riding in it.”

ear warmers from http://gigishandywork.com/ (made right here in Portland – purchased at bikecraft)
I’d like to know more about that ten year old REI jacket that is still water proof. Mine leaks like a sieve. What product works to re-seal those? Any tips?

Ed
Guest
Ed

The jacket does leak a bit, maybe not “like a sieve,” given enough rain and wind. But then my torso will simply match what’s happened below the waist, where the pants weren’t waterproof to begin with. But I’m still insulated, not cold, and seldom wet enough to be uncomfortable. My commute is only 30-40 min. If I were that wet for much longer, I might be less sanguine about the experience.

Jeremy Cohen
Guest
Jeremy Cohen

9watts: it depends on the specific type of jacket, but for lots of “gore-tex” and similar fabrics I use “tech-wash” which I use in my machine and then dry the jacket (and pants or whatever other waterproof breathables I washed with it) on medium heat. The heat of the dryer alone can often “reset” the wp/b fabric by shrinking back any pores that have gotten bigger than the water vapor they are supposed to let out. Another idea is to use TX-Direct on the outside of the jacket–it puts the DWR (Durable Water Repellancy) back on which causes much of the water to bead up and roll off instead of penetrating the fabric. I’d give it the $10 treatment before I sprung for a new $100 jacket….

John Lascurettes
Guest

I definitely prefer a wool base layer over synthetics (they work better and stink less). And if it’s only sprinkling, I’ll opt to get a bit damp but not overheated over getting soggy from the inside out from heat. I only put on the unbreathable shells when it’s pouring and then I slow way down to avoid overheating (which probably has the added benefit of giving vehicle drivers longer reaction times with their limited visibility too).

Greg
Guest
Greg

I like wool’s performance, however, the increasing number of holes over the years makes it not worth the price for me.

Ian
Guest
Ian

Wearing a cycling cap under my helmet works well for me. The bill helps keep rain out of my eyes (though you still need glasses for heavy rain) and keeps rain off my scalp.

michael downes
Guest
michael downes

After six years in Portland I have concluded that Gore-Tex sucks when it’s mild & wet. Rain water smells better than sweat so might as well just get wet. My biggest whine is the rainwater that runs of my sleeves & shoulders and accumulates in my ‘waterproof’ gloves.

pengo
Guest
pengo

Wear the sleeves of your jacket over the cuffs of your gloves.

owen
Guest
owen

and wear rubber dishwashers’ gloves–functional and glamorous.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

Wool ear covering cycle cap under helmet, Showers Pass touring jacket, wool liners with fingerless gloves, Rainlegs chaps, regular socks and mountain shoes (with an extra pair of socks in the bag), 700×28 Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, SKS chromoplastic fenders with 1/2 water bottles for mudguards (requires a little extra work). The mudguards, especially on the front wheel, are of supreme importance in keeping your feet and drivetrain cleaner and dryer. The rear mudguard is for the courtesy of your fellow riders. Chaps help your legs breathe better than full pants while fenders keep the backs of your legs dry. And lights – it doesn’t matter how wet you are on the way to the hospital. I run 41×15 on a Surly Cross-Check fixie.

I have a pair of Showers Pass full rain pants and a pair of shoe covers for when it really downpours or is extra cold. For longer, non-commute rides, I usually swap the jacket out for a long-sleeve Underarmour shirt.

rain bike
Guest
rain bike

Agree on Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires – been VERY happy with mine.

AG
Guest
AG

thanks for mentioning the rear fender as courtsey to your fellow riders! The worst is being sprayed by someone’s rooster tail. Please fellow riders, show some respect!

Hugh Johnson
Guest
Hugh Johnson

Don’t follow so close.

kerry
Guest
kerry

I should hang way back at every stoplight? This is city commuting, man! You can easily be in a rooster tail without being a jerk.

Ty
Guest
Ty

The rear fender is actually pretty important in keeping spray and road debris off of your back.

Roosters aren’t usually a problem because it is difficult to follow someone closely (at least for very long) at a speed where it gets tall enough to spray you.

Scott
Guest
Scott

Where do you get bicycle chaps ? They seem hard to find …..

Emily
Guest
Emily

I have some of those chaps but they fit me weird. They are called unisex but I think they fit a man’s body better.

Dave
Guest

It depends on your needs and specific situation, but I love wool. Wool cap (with brim, so water drips in front of my face instead of running down it), wool sweater, wool pants, wool socks, then throw a poncho over. Good water-resistant shoes. I basically stay dry except for my head and the bottom 6 inches of my legs, unless it’s really torrential. Then just take the poncho off and you’re on your way.

It works for me, but then, I don’t have to arrive everywhere completely dry all the time, and I have time/space to dry the poncho when I’m not using it. And I’m rarely out in the rain for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Sbrock
Guest
Sbrock

Dave, any hot… I mean dry tips on ponchos?

Dave
Guest

I’ve used the nylon ponchos from The Monkey King on Hawthorne (there’s also one over here in NW Portland), and those have worked pretty well. They’re cheap (I think $10) sturdy and basically waterproof, and they have a hood. The one issue is that a lot of water runs off of it, so you should make sure to wear something on your feet that can get wet.

My current poncho is fabric, so it absorbs more water and not as much runs off, but of course it does saturate after a while, maybe 25 min in a heavy rain.

Jessie
Guest

How thick and heavy is your fabric poncho. I’m planning to make one out of oil cloth. I’ve tried some lite weight ones, but I’m a small person and not the “most” that the one size is usually recommended to fit… Anyhow, I’m worried it will be bulky to pack around especially when wet.

Dave
Guest
Dave

It’s definitely bulkier than most synthetic rain gear, but I can fold it up and stuff it in my shoulder bag, so I always have it with me. I’m fortunate in that I never really have cause to carry it around while it’s soaked, though it is a little bulkier and somewhat heavier when soaked.

Trina
Guest

Dave’s poncho is made out of a Burberry Raincoat fabric remnant ($12/yard, score!) I picked up at The Mill End Store a few years ago. It’s rain resistant to soaking all the way through for a pretty good amount of time out in the rain, but still soaks up some water so there isn’t as much running off in huge streams down your legs. It’s about as heavy as sturdy cotton canvas, a little heavier once it gets good and wet. It seems to dry pretty well by the end of his workday/overnight so it’s ready for the next rainy ride. The nice thing is i remember his lightweight $10 special poncho being a little prone to flipped up if there was wind while this one stays put.

Dan V
Guest
Dan V

I would recommend the DWR spray at REI to make the fabric more water-resistant; it has pulled much of my rainwear back from the dead.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

I use a Carradice “rain cape” – pretty much the same thing as a poncho, but with straps hanging down inside that you hang onto while also holding your handlebars. Allows for less flapping when it’s windy. It cost a lot more than $10 – may have been $60? It’s quite durable, though.

I have the ugly fluorescent yellow synthetic version; there’s also a nicer-looking (but nigh invisible at night) dark grey waxed cotton version. Both were available at Citybikes on Ankeny when I bought mine.

Paul Manson
Guest
Paul Manson

As I’ve gotten a bit older I’ve moved from the full embrace of rain model to a more geared up one. The embrace model is to just put shorts on, a warm top and get soaked. Then change where you arrive. Now I try to use rain pants and jackets, and some slower riding, to arrive dry and dressed to go. Both are only partially successful!

Max D
Guest
Max D

My Showers Pass Portland jacket has only leaked in the most severe downpour, and the water may have just been dripping in down my neck, arms, etc. It is a bit too warm for the55 degree and warmer days, but very reliable.

I also have rain pants and neoprene booties, but these are about 7 years old and they do not offer much protection anymore. For what it is worth, I have been on the fence about either
1) replacing them or
2) getting some cycling shoes, wool socks and tights and just changing at work.
The issue for me is wanting to minimize the amount of junk I am hauling to work every day in addition to lunch and a few tools/tube. The rain pants/booties may simply be lighter, smaller, easier to put on, and cheaper than the getting new pedals, shoes, tights (embarassing!) and socks.

rider
Guest
rider

My tip would be that you don’t need cycling specific rain gear. Buy what’s breathable and on sale.

pengo
Guest
pengo

This can work okay, but a jacket that’s cut for cycling (longer tail and sleeves, plus side/pit zippers since a jacket that’s breathable enough for walking around doesn’t necessarily work for more vigorous activity) works a lot better for the position. I don’t use rain pants, but the cycling ones seems to be more reinforced in the seat area, plus a little longer in the leg.

Danny
Guest
Danny

I’m thankful for the switch from warm and rainy to cold and rainy. I was dying inside all of my gear there for a while.

I’ve been using a Showers Pass Elite 2.0 jacket for about 3 years now. I love that the eVent fabric MUST be washed, and in warm water with liquid detergent even. With this jacket all I’ve ever needed was a thin base layer even in 30+ degree weather. I have the Showers Pass Club Convertible pants and while they keep me dry they are a little bulky. I’m still trying to get used to them. On the feet I keep Gore Bike Wear full foot (with open bottoms for SPD) protection. I’ve never really worn more on my head than my Bern helmet which for some reason seems to keep my head 99% dry. I use Endura waterproof gloves, but again they are for cooler wet weather.

I hate being wet when I get to work so I opt for the most waterproof gear I can find, but I’m always trying to balance the temperature thing and am looking for lighter gear to wear when it’s not so cold, but still raining.

Art Fuldodger
Guest
Art Fuldodger

here! here! for the eVent! I have an eVent jacket from REI that i was skeptical about (no pit zips, etc), but it has performed admirably through one-and a-half winters; waterproof & — amazingly — more breathable than any other jacket (Burley, Showers Pass) I’ve previously worn.

Dave
Guest

I should also say, I only wear any rain gear at all if I’m going to be soaked when I get where I’m going. If I’m just going to get a bit damp, I just get a bit damp, to me it’s not worth the hassle unless I’m getting a big benefit out of it. Thankfully, it’s actually not as often as you might think that it really dumps rain. I carry my poncho with me always, but probably only wear it a few days per month.

beth
Guest
beth

i wear a bern snow helmet with ear covers to keep them warm. the helmet has no vents so your hair stays dry too. the small visor help keep rain out of my eyes.

marmot rain pants and a good waterproof but breathable snowboard jacket keeps me warm and dry.

for me snow gear works better than rain gear. its just as waterproof, but warmer and more breathable. rain gear is always the plastic lined stuff which traps in heat and isnt very waterproof over time.

Marty
Guest
Marty

I did this morning commute with a light rain jacket, shorts, wool gloves, headband under helmet. Change of shoes and clothes loaded up in my kid trailer.

Erinne
Guest
Erinne

Rain gear from REI (seriously a life-saver–I stuck my jacket in the washer last week and the ENTIRE lining came out! But REI had my back…)
Shoe dryer at work, shared with other folks who bike. Change of socks in my waterproof Ortlieb, and extra slip-on shoes at my desk.

Pete E
Guest
Pete E

If you’re gonna be riding year-round, it’s worth investing in some good gear. Cheap raingear keeps rain out, but keeps sweat in, so you’re still wet, but it’s grosser. I have a Showers Pass e-vent jacket, and it’s amazing how breathable it is. Besides that, it’s all smartwool for me: long-sleeve t, longjohns, socks, and gloves with hot glue on the finger pads for grip. Regular wool is too itchy for me, but smartwool feels fine. Wool is great because you get wet but you don’t feel wet, and it doesn’t get smelly as fast as synthetic. Oh, and shorts over the longjohns to try and retain one tiny shred of dignity. And don’t wear cotton. And for the love of science, don’t wear jeans; the only thing in the world worse than taking off wet jeans is pulling on wet jeans.

dennis
Guest

Fenders. get them. Love them. Chain guards, Highly recommend. I’d actually recommend a “nasty-weather” bicycle, that can be exposed to unpleasant circumstances without risk. Plaster that bike with big fenders, durable tires, and bring a carradice duckswear cloak.

Brian
Guest
Brian

Totally agree. I just bought a Redline 952 singlespeed road bike used at Sellwood Cycles complete with chainguard, full fenders, and a rear rack. The ride this morning was actually great. I used to ride a SS for mtb’ing, and am looking forward to the ease of maintenance (and less $ spent on drivetrain parts) this Winter.

Dave
Guest
Dave

Experience has taught me there is no such thing as waterproof, unless you want to dress like the Gorton’s fisherman. Even then it’s doubtful. That leaves two realistic winter commuting options in this town:

a> Wool, synthetics, and a windproof layer to keep you warm even after the water has seeped through. Change at work.

b> Mass transit.

Yeah, there is gear that can keep you dry up to a point, but sooner or later you’ll discover the limits, and it only takes sitting through one 9am meeting with your crotch soaked for the novelty to wear off.

Rol
Guest
Rol

Proper gear is essential (for me generally nylon on the outside and wool or cotton on the inside). But the best piece of rain gear money cant buy is a resilient, adventurous, and somewhat detached attitude, that doesn’t make mountains of suffering out of molehills of being a bit wet. This comes with time. “Dry” and “warm” are relative terms. Acknowledge whatever body part gets wet and give it a mental shout-out. “Sorry, foot, we’ll be indoors soon.” Immediately it will feel warmer. You mark my words.
Some mantras:
“This too shall pass.”
“My ancestors went through much worse.”
“The rain’s lovely. Few others are seeing this scene in this way right now. I rule.”

(moderately) Dry Guy
Guest
(moderately) Dry Guy

FENDERS
Wool shirt/jacket.
Rain cape (covers upper body and hands)
Gloves – multiple layers to modulate warmness and if they get wet I can
FENDERS
separate them so the dry faster
Spats (covers shoes and go up over my knees.
Thin wool hat w/ brim
FENDERS

I’ve been commuting year-round by bicycle in Portland for 15 years, I wear jeans, cotton socks (on all by the coldest days), canvas shoes pretty much year round but manage to stay dry (enough) and warm. The rain cape+spats combo is super effective.

Wooley Willie
Guest
Wooley Willie

Cotton socks? Really?
I feel all cold & clammy just thinkin’ on it…

(moderately) Dry Guy
Guest
(moderately) Dry Guy

Yeah, cotton socks work fine if they stay dry. My spats cover my shoes (which are canvas), if my shoes stay dry my socks stay dry. I don’t ride fast so I don’t have to worry about sweating in them. On very cold days I do wear wool socks.

pengo
Guest
pengo

In addition to fenders, I’d stress the importance of a mud/buddyflap. There’s nothing worse than some Cat 6 superstar burning all their matches to get just barely in front of you, and in the process spraying you in the face with the road grime from their uncovered wheel.

A.K.
Guest
A.K.

I think there is one worse: the person with the “fender” that just sticks straight out. They are very concerned about their own arse staying dry, but couldn’t care less if those behind them get a facefull of road spray.

Joe
Guest
Joe

layer well with idems that pull heat away from you, wool 🙂 boots 🙂
good socks.. LIGHTS! sometimes it takes a couple seasons to get the correct gear. * key allow your stuff to dry out before having to wear it again. remember you don’t stop as fast in rain! ( anyone use new paper for front of chest to keep warm? )

Kevin Schmidt
Guest
Kevin Schmidt

The old saying: “There is really NO bad weather to bike in; you’re only as good as your gear” really does ring true.. But, you’ll be pretty well-set for 90% of PDX rainy weather if you have:
1) a waterproof jacket/shell with hood (over the helmet- yeah stylish!)
2) rain pants, and
3)gloves/mittens, and a pair of crappy shoes that you don’t mind getting soaked..
Fenders are awesome- a must-have for anyone who is gonna ride in the rain!
Keep spare underwear and socks/work-shoes at the office.. Oh, and never forget the scarf when it gets below 40degrees!

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

I’ll add my support to the Showers Pass eVent jacket. It works great for all but the hardest downpours or 55F+ days. I’ll wear one or two layers underneath (except for those Feb. days in the 20s; then three underlayers are necessary).

I carry a change of clothes to work since my 12-mile commute leaves me sweaty every single day. I don’t worry too much about keeping my legs dry, though I do try to keep them covered (with knickers and/or tights).

I hate riding with soaked feet, so I have a pair of Garneau shoe covers. They don’t keep my feet completely dry, but they keep the worst of flying water out of my socks.

Fenders and lights are mandatory for me.

Finally, I take along a willingness to slow down. The four horsemen of the winter apocalypse (cold, wet, wind, dark) will get anyone who insists on July speeds in a December storm.

Wooley Willie
Guest
Wooley Willie

A pair of back-up (wool) socks in me kit bag.

dude
Guest
dude

For a dry, sweat-free body: My bike poncho (with thumb loops and waist strap) is probably 30 years old and working fine. I recently recoated it, silicon-sprayed, and seam sealed it so I should get another 30 out of it. It keeps me dry and I don’t sweat because its good ventilation. The hoodie with visor on it fits well under my helmet to keep my head dry.
For dry, warm feet: thermal, waterproof oversocks (made by Sealskin, sold by Bike Gallery). My shoes get wet, but my day socks stay dry and my feet stay warm.
For warm hands: army surplus wool gloves. If it’s really cold, a nylon shell over them. If it’s raining, my hands are under the poncho.
Legs: medium weight nylon lycra leggings under my bike shorts. If really cold, I have lycra knee warmers as another layer.
Body wear: cotton short sleeve plus cotton long sleeve, as thermometer dips further, I’ll add either a pile vest and/or a medium weight polypro long sleeve turtleneck. If it’s arctic, then add a raggedy wool sweater to the above and/or a nonbreathable nylon shell jacket.
For warm Head, ears and neck: thin balaclava under the helmet.
Thus equipped, I ride 3,000 miles commuting year-round.

ShareTheRoad
Guest
ShareTheRoad

Yes, a shout-out for the balaclava when it gets frigid and snowy.

dude
Guest
dude

Oh yeah, and fenders are a must. I saw a guy today without fenders and a very wet butt heading into work.

ladyfleur
Guest

If your shoes or gloves get wet inside, wad up newspaper and shove it inside them. The paper will absorb all the water and you’ll have dry shoes and gloves in no time. I keep a stack of paper at work just in case.

Oh, and wool socks and leggings/pants are awesome. As is my Agu long raincoat, Clarijs panniers, and ordinary knee high leather boots. http://ladyfleur.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/gear-talk-head-to-toe-rain-coverage/

dan
Guest
dan

Kinco waterproof / reflective work gloves! I think I paid $12 for mine, and they’re awesome for any temperature from 25-45 degrees Fahrenheit. They help with visibility when making hand signals on dark rainy nights too. You lose some dexterity, but once they’re broken in, they’re very functional.

Paul Souders
Guest
Paul Souders

Wool, a change of dry clothes, and a really bright headlight.

I love that this is such a passionate topic.

Danny
Guest
Danny

Surely you have a blog or something where you have more to day than that! 😉

Danny
Guest
Danny

Wow…d and s are very close on the keyboard.

David Sweet
Guest
David Sweet

To the various and excellent suggestions above I would only add, allow extra time. It takes me a few minutes to get my gear on at home and strip it off wet on the other end. Also, as others have said, I need to ride slower in weather.

David
Guest
David

I think everyone’s covered all the gear I would have suggested. The only thing I can think to add is buy a shoe dryer for your house! It’s saved me countless times when I’ve been caught out by a sudden shower or even just stepped in a puddle i didn’t see while walking or running. Also great for my cyclocross race shoes,hiking boots, sneakers etc. Takes a while to dry things but I really prefer it to throwing shoes in the dryer or using newspaper.

Danny
Guest
Danny

Does it get stinky?

dmc
Guest
dmc

I like to wear sandals in the wet weather. If it is cold and wet I will sometimes wear waterproof socks under my sandals. The sandals dry a lot faster than shoes. I sometimes pack a pair of shoes and dry socks in my pannier for longer rides to a destination.

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

I too frequently wear sandals in warmer wet weather. They do dry so much more quickly than shoes.

Adam
Guest
Adam

-Mentality-
Riding a bike in the rain is still far more fun than driving in the rain. In truth, my winter rides are some of my absolute favorites. There is something about the sound of riding through the rain that is wonderfully peaceful.

-Clothing-
Wear normal clothing with breathable rain gear that zips off easily. I don’t like stripping down and changing into a space suit just to ride my bike.

-Pace-
Remember that you are commuting and not racing. If you succeed you will get to work dry and happy. I am really good at this until somebody passes me. Sigh…

-Bike Gear-
Fenders with good mud guards to keep the feet dry. A waterproof bag to keep all of your stuff dry. Dry stuff is far more important to me than a dry body. GET GOOD LIGHTS!!!

Daniel Liu
Guest

It’s been raining a lot in Madison, and I’ve been feeling nostalgic about PNW winters…

Fenders: SKS Longboard. Longer than the usual SKS fenders, and they include a set of floppy mudflaps. They’re hard to find here in the Midwest, I had to order them off of Amazon.

Clothes: Here in Madison, I’ve decided to accept getting wet — it’s not like Portland’s constant light showers, and my showers pass “touring” jacket (a real dud, the materials aren’t very good) can’t hold up to midwestern thunderstorms. For me this means wearing synthetics that dry quickly in a warm office or house; wool is nice, sometimes, but it stays slightly damp for a very long time. I have a very nice softshell that has a water resistant coating on it, windproof and more useful for midwestern winters than a raincoat or poncho.

Chain lube: Anything thicker than triflow. ATB #1-2 was my favorite in portland, but I can’t get it here; prolink extreme seems to be holding up pretty well.

Other: A cheap bandana or handkerchief that you can keep dry, to wipe your eyes or glasses off during a downpour. I always swore by the orange Koolstop brake pads, despite the fact that they wear out relatively quickly.

MossHops
Guest

I have the same problem with my Shower’s Pass Touring. On my third season with it, and it’s not even close to being waterproof at this point.

Which leads to a question. Anyone have recommendations for a jacket:
1. That is biking specific (tail and long sleeves)
2. Has pits
3. Is really waterproof for at least three seasons?

That last point is important. For season one, I would have said that the Shower’s Pass Touring is fantastic. Now… not so much.

pengo
Guest
pengo

If you haven’t yet, you should try washing the jacket with a sportwash which will reapply a DWR coating (Grangers for example). Then tumble dry on low for just long enough to dry it (not very long at all). This spreads the DWR evenly. From what I understand waterproof fabrics, whether microporous or hydrophilic, are always waterproof, but if they get especially dirty or if the DWR coating eventually wears off they will start to “wet out” and stop breathing. As for alternate jacket suggestions, the Endura Stealth has been my best friend for about three years now.

Tompkins
Guest
Tompkins

On any given soggy 3 mile commute, you can find me clothed in:
-Thick wool socks
-Leather shoes
-Waterproof Rain jacket (Showers Pass Touring)/fleece
-Wool cap
-Ongoing Pant Experiment (OPE):
-just got Otter Wax (natural, made in Portland) and waxed up some denim pants; seems to work well in moderate rain – we’ll see about the heavy stuff
-gaiters if it gets real soggy
-Waterproof synthetic glove w/ good articulation:
-presently using Mtn. Hardware’s mountaineering glove and while expensive they are excellent at keeping my hands warm and dry
-Sunny (smug?) disposition

troy
Guest
troy

Waxed jeans sounds like a great idea, how long have you had them? Do they smell when they get wet or get hot, are they sticky/tacky? And how do you clean them?

Tompkins
Guest
Tompkins

I just treated them this weekend and took them out for a test spin in the rain this morning. They worked very well but the wax was definitely still pretty tacky/greasy today and smelled, not overwhelming, but pretty strong. As I write this, the wax seems to have “cured” and isn’t “off-gassing” if that’s an appropriate term. The wax costs $13 for a (3oz.?) bar which is good enough for a pair of jeans with a little left over. You can find it at Machus on 6th and Burnside SE or online. I hear that U.S. outdoor sells a waterproofing wax for fabric as well but it may be petro (paraffin)-based.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

Merino wool. Watch steepandcheap.com for good prices.

Showers Pass eVent jacket. Fantastic! I have some Marmot rain pants that are ok, but not super.

For wet weather commuting make sure that you have waterproof shoes. Find something made for hiking (not high tops!) and forget the clipless pedals. In crappy weather I want to be ready for anything. Clipping in isn’t compatible with that, in my opinion. Along the same lines, keep your hands warm & dry. Keep extremities warm and your core cool.

Fenders. Get the longest you can, then add a mudflap to the front one (if not both). Mudflaps should be as close to the ground as possible. Skip the stylish “flat” wooden fenders that don’t wrap around the sides of the tire. The water comes right off the them & hits you anyway. You want to channel the water towards the ground. Make sure your fenders are wide enough, too. Too narrow might look ok, but they need to be at least 8-10mm wider than your tires.

LIGHTS!! For serious bad weather commuting, I now consider a generator hub (with appropriate lights) a must-have. Make sure the lights have a standlight function.

dwainedibbly
Guest
dwainedibbly

I forgot to mention what I do for my head: wool hat, then the jacket’s hood. Helmet goes on top of that, with a helmet cover. In really cold weather the hat gets swapped for a balaclava.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Wool
Waterproof jacket – lightweight & windproof with pit zips
Wool socks
Waterproof rainpants
Lightweight gloves (otherwise you get too sweaty)
Expect that your extremities will get cold, particularly if you have to bike up any hills.

Brighton
Guest
Brighton

Ok call me a slave to fashion, but if I need to arrive one style, it’s the Nau Succinct Trench. Stylish and waterproof. But most days when style doesn’t matter I have a bright yellow Pearl Izumi jacket and some rain pants I found at Goodwill.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I often have meetings before/after school (and an early start school!), combined with having to pick up my son from preschool before a certain time, which makes commuting from NE Portland out to Hillsboro really difficult. So, I decided to let go of the guilt and do a partial commute as much as possible (and a full commute whenever possible). I figure some is better than none, and I am much more motivated to commute more often when it’s dark, cold, and wet now. I load my bike onto my car and drive up to the archery range by the Zoo. From there I jump on the bike and make my way out to 185th. Aside from still getting in 20 miles on the bike, I get to avoid HWY 26 altogether.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

A good base layer is key, Merino wool is my favorite but it’s pricy. You’ll need a good waterproof jacket and pants, I like the Showers Pass Elite 2.0 and club convertable pants combo personally. Some booties or shoe covers can keep your feet either dry or warm depending on your choice. A good hat like the Rapha winter hat with ear flaps helps under your helmet. I have yet to find a good pair of cold weather gloves.

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

i really look forward to fall rainy commutes. rain is refreshing if you’ve got dry clothes in the pack.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Buy a set of ski boot/shoe dryer/warmers. They’re usually less than $30, but totally worth it, as they can dry your wet cycling shoes overnight. I would not be able to wear the same pair of shoes everyday without my dryers.

mark kenseth
Guest
mark kenseth

Stay-dry clothes dry very quick (shirt, shorts, or long-johns for when really cold). Water-proof outerwear (pants, jacket, and plastic bags–for shoes). Also, a small towel, or a camping towel. Quick change in the bathroom and I’m ready.

CPAC
Guest
CPAC

Outlier pants and jacket. After fenders, they’re the best things out there for the rain.

I refuse to do any special dressing for my commute, so I wear the Outlier pants, which (along with a normal shirt tie and jacket), look quite professional and plenty suitable for my law office. Add in a good rain jacket, and I’m set for a no-change commute even in the worst of weather. The outlier pants seem expensive until you realize how incredibly well they work and how hard-wearing they are.

I do keep an extra pair of wool socks at the office in case the pair I’m wearing get soaked.

More important than any piece of gear, however, is a good attitude. On the worst days, it’s best to have a sense of humor and laugh a little when the wind pushes you backwards, or the rain is so heavy you have to slow to a crawl.

troy
Guest
troy

-Gloves: Really cold & wet days, i wear 2 pairs of wool glove liners (andy & bax) under oversized “rubber dipped” gloves from Sanderson Safety Supply store (se 3rd & Taylor); prob 15 dollars total, & it keeps my hands completely warm & dry.

-Face: A simple fleece neck gaiter is great for keeping cold wind & rain from annoying your face, even in a heavy rain. I usually only pull it up when going downhill or the wind on the bridge.

-Eyes: Under 40 degrees, wearing ski goggles keeps my eyes from watering (and when it happens, they continue to water all day).

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

– Wool! I wear wool socks year-round because IMO they outperform cotton and synthetics in all conditions. Yes, even hot weather.

– Bring a change of clothes! If (like today) I know I’m going to get soaked in the morning, I bring not only dry clothes for work, but another dry set of cycling clothes for the ride home.

– Speaking of backpacks, gotta have a raincover for that. Especially if, like me, you need to keep your work clothes and a laptop dry in there.

– Good waterPROOF, breathable rain gear, if you’re riding more than a handful of miles. I got caught in an absolute downpour on my 12 mile ride home over the West Hills. No I wasn’t completely dry, but I sure was glad to NOT have the feeling of cold water trickling in through my shell, nor the clammy feeling you get when the nylon outside the membrane has gotten waterlogged and is pushing cold vapor through to your inner layer.

My beloved old Nike Gore-Tex commuting jacket wore out beyond repair earlier this year, and I wasn’t looking forward to shopping for a new jacket. So last night I dug out my nearly 10 year old Pearl Izumi eVent jacket which I’d stopped using because I thought it didn’t “work” anymore, and I actually followed the care advice to restore the DWR finish, which entails washing with a special detergent and again with the waterproofing agent. $20 seemed like an insane amount so spend on a “fabric care” product, but it has saved me a fortune in new jackets (because I also had others I thought I might need to replace) and now I chalk it up as one of my Best. Investments. Ever!

– Good waterproof boots. I have two pair: my Shimanos are fully waterproof but not insulated, and are good (for me) down to around freezing. I also have a pair of Lake boots that are insulated (and also fairly waterproof), which I use mostly for mountain biking but also for those commutes when it does get below 30 or so.

– Gloves probably produce about as varied of opinions as anything, but personally when it’s dumping out I’m a big fan of the $20 Kinco work gloves I bought at Home Depot a couple years ago. The ones I have are lined with Thinsulate and have reflective orange on the backs, making for great turn signals. And the waterproofing held up almost the entire ride, just starting to get damp inside the last mile or two home.

– Fenders. Duh. An absolute must.

– Chain lube: I like ATB for the moderate rain we have much of the year, and it isn’t too thick and goopy, but for the weather we’ve had the last week and a half I really like Finish Line Cross-Country.

– Good lights (blinkies front and rear) for conspicuity. I’m still on the PB SuperFlash because I can go weeks without changing the batteries.

– Decent brakes. After wearing through a set of those little 20″ rims in ONE WINTER of commuting on my folding bike, I finally upgraded this spring to drum brakes. Great! They are completely unaffected by the weather, a claim not even discs can make. They are not quite as powerful and responsive as discs, but still capable of locking up the rear tire, so good enough.

– Battery lights are fine, but I’m really enjoying the dynamo hub that was also part of my wheelset upgrade. Sure is nice just ALWAYS having light no matter what.

The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Here is my set up for wet weather with temps in the 30’s to upper 40’s.

Ride time 1 to 3hrs.

Fenders. Especially if you are riding when it is dumping.

Waterproof backpack/pannier with your daily supplies. Ortlieb products are great.

Cycling cap with bill (wear it under your helmet, one not made of cotton will work best)
Cycling Glasses

Defeet Blaze wool socks
Your favorite cycling shoes
Louis Garneau Neo Booties

Performance Tri flex pants (wear your favorite riding shorts or bibs underneath)

Performance Winter Jacket (wear base layers according to temp)

Microfiber Glove liners and Manzella Gloves (these will keep your hands warm even when the gloves get wet)

Hang this stuff up to dry when you arrive to work and repeat once you get home.

You will get little wet from sweating and a little wet from the rain, however, this will keep you warm. The hardest part about riding in the in climate weather is motivating yourself to do it. Once you do, you will be glad you did.

Franklin Jones
Guest

B-line riders are covered head to toe w/ Showers Pass gear, Icebreaker layers and socks…..and a dryer back at the warehouse for rounds 2 and 3 🙂

AlanG24
Guest
AlanG24

JACKET: Showers Pass Elite 2.0: love the eVent fabric – works very well
RAIN PANTS: GoreTex – also very dry and I don’t overheat
HELMET with Bill and rain cover – hate a wet head
Ear cover under helmet
BOOTIES: Pearl Izumi neoprene booties: not the driest but they keep my feet warm
SOCKS: defeet wool blend
Full length cycling tights under rain pants
Long sleeve jersey.
GLOVES: the BANE of my ride – have yet to find a truly water proof pair.

SKS Longboard fenders: IMHO, the best full coverage fenders

BIKE: Spot Acme with Alfine 11 speed, disc brakes, and Gates belt drive. Great wet weather bike!!

For dark rides – especially in the rain – I opt for high nerd factor and lots of lights and reflectors: 550 lumen seizure strobe, super bright red blinkies (two, one on my helmet, one on the rack); reflective vest; reflector straps on both ankles. My kids tell me I look like a Christmas tree. Whatever it takes!!

Keep riding y’all.

pengo
Guest
pengo

Regarding the gloves, Pearl Izumi PRO Barrier WXB gloves are the best I’ve found so far. Actually waterproof, adequately breathable and by far the least bulky rain glove I’ve seen. Expensive for sure, but cheaper than buying a different glove every season because the last ones you tried were crap.