What bicycle rain gear to buy?
If you are new to cycling one of the biggest turn-offs may be biking in rainy weather. In this article we will cover some of the basics and get you over the fear of this unknown. Riding in the rain does not have to be miserable and in fact can be quite enjoyable with the right equipment :) As with anything else the sky is the limit on what you can spend for cycling rain gear for you and your bike. However you dont have to purchase a full set for shorter rides such as your daily commute. Lets start with the most essential - the rain jacket. A good cycling rain jacket comes with three essentials: It covers your behind when you lean forward, it comes in neon yellow ( so cars can see you ) and usually may include some kind of reflective material. Its usually best to get a jacket that is just waterproof and wear some other warmer layer underneath. This prevents you from having to own multiple rain jackets and can pack down into very small places. A jacket designed to pack down can be especially good for this such as the North Face jacket from REI which packs down into one of its own pockets to about the size of a bannana. The last important aspect of a great rain jacket or any other bike rain gear is quality - in that its good enough to last atleast a season and does not start falling apart in months. I have previously had bought a cheap $10 rain jacket out of necessity at RAGBRAI which likely came from a discount store. This jacket looked alright but when I took it on a subsequent 1000 mile / 3 week bike tour from Seattle to SF it literally started to fall to pieces with huge chunks of the waterproof material coming off in places. The recommendation here is to not overspend for rain gear as it gets lost all the time ( that REI bannana jacket fell out of my jersey pocket when doing cyclocross all over the hills of Oakland ) but to get something that gives you enough confidence to not have to think about its durability. The second most important piece of rain gear are actually fenders. At UC Davis, CA the commonly referred to "freshman stripe" is a streak of mud and road-silca that renders on the backs of new cyclists who have just gotten a bicycle and not learned the value of fenders. Same thing goes for the front fender which prevents water from shooting up into your downtube and spraying all over the tops of your shoes. You can get full or partial, steel or plastic fenders just about anywhere. Fenders in particular are built to be compatible with most standardized bikes and your local bike shop would be happy to install them if youre having trouble. It is recommended to check the fender and bike dimensions to make sure that there is enough clearance to fit the fenders, esp. on racing bikes. If the fenders do not fit or there are no eyelets on your frame there are plenty of workarounds so this should not be a big deal. In fact one of the hacks I love to leverage is just to have a rack with a solid center plate that acts as a fender itself by blocking most of the water coming up behind the saddle If you hate wet socks there are plenty of things for this as well. Aside from getting waterproof shoes/boots/covers if youre wearing cleats you can get partial or full cleat covers. There are a large variety of companies that make them from Pearl Izumi to POC and they slip right on with a hole for your pedal-mating mechanism. In the event that you dont have these or have lost them a spare set of dry socks will do in a pinch when you get to your destination Bike touring the Pacific Northwest requires some additional rain gear. In particular I discovered rain pants ( by Showers Pass - available at REI ) and GORE waterproof bike cap ( also available at REI ) Having a bike cap looks great when youre considering the alternative of covering your hole helmet and keeps you from venting a lot of BTUs if youre going to be out in the rain all day. Rain pants also prevent your lower half from getting waterlogged in all-day riding and can be worn over regular pants. Thats probably all you need to know to get started biking in the rain! To recap: a neon-yellow rain jacket specifically made for bicycle riding, fenders and maybe shoe covers are essential. Other items are non-essential and can be bought over time depending on the kind of riding you do. Note: bike lights in the rain can be a good idea as well. 7 Founder of Sprocket bike app