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Failboat Captian
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
One of my shortcoming to commuting, is that I don't ride if it's raining in the morning or going to be cool and raining in the afternoon. I have no issues commuting home on a hot day in the rain (I actually kind of like it). But I don't want to be soaked when I get to work, because I have an aversion to putting on wet clothes when it's time to go home. Especially if it's chilly out.

So, what sort of rain gear is out there that will keep you dry, but not make you overheat when it's 50-70 degrees? The rain pants I have are very thin, but don't breathe. I can wear them over standard UA Cold Gear tights and be comfortable when it's 10 degrees out. If it were above 30, I'd be sweating to death.

As for the top of me, my back sweats like crazy when I have been out riding for a few minutes.

What I really need is stuff that breathes really well, but still keeps me dry. Something like Goretex would never breathe well enough. I need stuff that would have huge vents on the back and backs of the legs.

Does something like that exist (for under many hundreds of dollars)?
 

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Premium Member
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We use Gore-Tex pants with the cuffs rolled up to just below the knees. Well vented rain jackets (or the plastic ones with the sleeves cut short). Helmet and shoe covers (not neoprene) and seal skinz gloves.

But the #1 item you need for comfortable rain riding is fenders.
 

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Rain gear

I ride to work year round here in New England. My work environment is such that I have to be professionally dressed (pants, shirt, tie etc). Weather here ranges from pretty nice to pretty awful. Rain (or worse) is inevitable. My solution(s)?

First - don't carry stuff on your back. That's an easy way to get wet and sweaty. Put your stuff in a pannier. You can't stay cool if you have something pressing on your back.

Second - make sure you have fenders. You get awfully wet from stuff spraying up from the ground. Keeping ground moisture off you allows you to be a bit more creative in keeping airborne moisture off you (see below).

Third - stay well ventilated without looking like/feeling like someone wrapped up in saran wrap. The solution? A riding cape. You can get a nice one from Carradice. These tent-like contraptions drape over your body and provide full coverage from elements coming down from above as they drape over your arms (you keep it in place with loops sewn onto the inside that you slip your wrists through as well as a cord that you tie around your waist). It sounds goofy but in combination with fenders, it keeps you perfectly dry and the fact that it is open from below, allows air to circulate around your lower body. In wet weather >50 degrees or so, I'll use the cape extensively. In pouring (horizontal) rain, where there's a chance that my pant legs get wet, I may resort to strapping on riding "spats" that slip over shoes and extend up a bit past your shinbone (also from Carradice). In coolish/wet weather, I'll be wearing dress pants, wingtips, shirt, tie, a light sweater and have the riding cape on top, and riding spats on over my dress shoes. With a thin cycling cap under the helmet, I get to work 100% dry. Carradice is based in the UK - their weather is much like what we have here in Boston and trust me, this solution works.

In colder/wetter (high 30s/low 40s and pouring), it's actually a lot easier to stay dry as you're not working up that much of a head of steam pedaling around. In this weather, I just throw on some old Goretex hiking pants over my dress pants and a waterproof/breathable hiking jacket on over my shirt + sweater.

Best,

M_B
 

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Failboat Captian
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6,559 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks MB1 and M_B.

I do have fenders (actually just a full front, no rear because of rear facing horizontal drops and lack of a chain stay brace to mount it to - I need to fabricate my own, but the seat post rack and seat tube keep the water off me for now).

I definitely don't use a backpack. I've done that once and hated it. Even in winter I was sweating way too much. The cape sounds interesting. How does it handle at 20-30 mph? I'm assuming the internal straps, etc keep it from getting tangled up with the chain/rings and rear tire?

I've seen a guy commuting with a rain cover that goes over the helmet. It looks silly, but effective and probably cooler than a cap under the helmet. Although I wear a MTB helmet with visor, so something like that may not fit over the visor (could take the visor off one of my helmets).
 

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Cape aerodynamics

At my regular commuting speeds (touring bike running a 39x16 fixed gear with upright handlebars, panniers etc. - thing weighs probably 30+ lbs) of 12-13 mph, the cape handles just fine. The straps around your wrist keep things in place, and the cord around your waist keeps it centered around your torso to keep it from flying up during a wind gust. The whole thing stays quite free of chain/tires etc. In howling rainstorms, it will act like a sail/parachute, so be prepared.

That said, it's probably best used when riding on the hoods or using upright handlebars. Coverage will be compromised when riding in the hoods. Similarly, the way it works (a tentlike covering between hands and torso, another area of coverage from torso down to below your seat) encourages upright riding. For example, I find that with the cape my seat stays bone dry. Because your arms/hands are essentially covered when you are riding, your ability to shift/move your hands will be compromised; I do not find this an issue because on the left part of my bar is my bell within reach of my hands in their oustretched position (although the ding-ding is a little muffled under the coverage of the cape) while on the right part of my bar is my brake lever (no shifters on this bike). This way, I am fully covered yet retain full control of the bike. Moving your hands out from under the cover of the cape usually results in water being sprayed here and there so I like to keep them where they are.

mass_biker
 

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No Crybabies
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11,692 Posts
jacket

I have a Gore jacket that has a mesh liner, which makes it feel a lot less clammy. Keeps the shell off your skin, with a little air space in between.
 
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