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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 03-29-17, 03:48 PM   #1
johngwheeler
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Do you ride in the rain?

I'm a new commuter, but so far I've avoided riding on rainy days, mostly because I'm still learning to handle my bike and not very confident about braking, but also because I just don't like the idea of getting wet, and probably dirty!

I'm curious about the percentage of bike commuters who keep to dry days for the above mentioned reasons, and how many will ride in almost any conditions? I should add that I have other convenient options for getting to work by public transport.

I have just bought some mudguards/fenders, "just in case", because sometimes even if it's not actually raining, the road may still be damp from an earlier shower.

Should I just "man up" and get some waterproof gear and a better life-insurance policy?

John.

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Old 03-29-17, 03:57 PM   #2
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i ride in the rain all the time. main thing to have is fenders and lights. i use a hub dynamo with a headlight and fender mounted tailight. i have a rainponcho but dont get it out unless it is really coming down hard.

it isnt that hard to ride in the rain. just make sure your seen and brake a little early. btw i have cantilever brakes and have no problem stopping.
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Old 03-29-17, 04:00 PM   #3
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I'll admit to jumping on the light rail with my bike when it's downpouring, but there's at least a few miles of riding each way on every day's commute. I live in the Pacific Northwest though, so if rain scared me off the bike I'd only be riding for three months out of the year at best.

Generous amounts of rain gear - that's my recommendation. A towel waiting at either end helps too.
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Old 03-29-17, 04:08 PM   #4
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I try not to ride on unfamiliar turf either in the rain or just after it has rained for fear of deep chuckholes.
I have twice mistook deep chuckholes for shallow puddles. This can be a very painful experience!
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Old 03-29-17, 04:11 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by 52telecaster View Post
i ride in the rain all the time. main thing to have is fenders and lights. i use a hub dynamo with a headlight and fender mounted tailight. i have a rainponcho but dont get it out unless it is really coming down hard.

it isnt that hard to ride in the rain. just make sure your seen and brake a little early. btw i have cantilever brakes and have no problem stopping.
+ 1 on all of this. I don't have a dynamo but I have 2 sets of good quality front lights and 3 sets of rear lights. I like a rain jacket with lots of reflective stuff as well.

Fat tires are a big plus in rainy weather as well. My principal commuter is a drop bar mtb conversion (a 1987 specialized stumpjumper comp). It takes 26 x 1.75 tires and fenders easily. Fatter tires lets you run a bit lower pressure and this is helpful on slick roads.
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Old 03-29-17, 04:13 PM   #6
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I try not to ride on unfamiliar turf either in the rain or just after it has rained for fear of deep chuckholes.
I have twice mistook deep chuckholes for shallow puddles. This can be a very painful experience!

This is true. Around here, it's best to assume that any water covering the road is also covering a giant pothole.
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Old 03-29-17, 04:33 PM   #7
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I will only if it is warm enough because you will get wet no matter what. And I do not like cold and wet for my moderate length commute (26 mi RT short route on roads which I don't like even when it is dry vs 30 mi short route on trails).
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Old 03-29-17, 04:41 PM   #8
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We get 300 days of good weather here, so I don't feel too guilty avoiding the 65
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Old 03-29-17, 05:24 PM   #9
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A long commute in the rain is miserable. If it is relatively short, it's not so bad.

I have full fenders, but I don't wear rain gear. I know I'm going to be wet at the other end. Fortunately I have a shower and a means to dry my clothes for the ride home. But if I did not, then keeping some extra clothes at work and packing the wet ones on the way home would be the solution.

Shoes will get wet, even with full fenders, when it's a downpour, so shoe covers or waterproof boots will be advantageous. It's not as easy to dry shoes in nine hours.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:27 PM   #10
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I don't really mind riding in the rain, but if I get to the station and have to take off all the rain gear at my locker, and it's raining, odds are I'll get on the train wet. If I don't bother with the rain gear, I'll get on the train wet. And I really dislike sitting on the train, for an hour, wet. So I try to avoid that.

Riding home from the station in the rain, getting home wet and taking a hot shower, I like that just fine.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:38 PM   #11
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Looking at the weather forecast, there is a pretty good chance I'll be doing my commute in the rain tomorrow, possibly both ways. and the temps will be only slightly above freezing.
Done it before, probably do it again.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:43 PM   #12
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You don't want to drive in the rain during rush hour here -- the traffic backs up for miles. Riding a bike, with proper rain ger is far more convenient and pleasant.
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Old 03-29-17, 05:59 PM   #13
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If it's warm, I ride regardless. Warm = > 50 degrees. Below that, maybe, maybe not.

With good rain gear, honestly, I forget it's raining. I do wind up dirty when I get there though.

I actually find it very pleasant to ride in the rain.
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Old 03-29-17, 06:07 PM   #14
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I ride in all weather, year round. I will admit that it took me more than a year to ramp myself up to this level. And the bike paths are practically empty when it's raining -- fewer riders than in the middle of winter.

But in my view, it's OK to take a gradual approach to dealing with the full range of weather. For instance, you can first get in the habit of always riding in nice weather. Then you can take small steps:

1. Ride to work even if it might rain on the way home.

2. Try out rain gear, but only during cooler weather to avoid sweating too much. Or, keep rain gear at work in case the weather changes during the day.

3. Gradually attack colder and colder temps, figuring out your gear needs for every 10 degree increment. Likewise with warmer temps if sweating is an issue for you.

4. Buy snow tires -- they may be cheaper out of season.

5. The full monty is leaving the house, knowing that it's raining. The first time I did that, was a liberating experience because I felt that I had "arrived."

One odd thing is that I'm a freak of nature: I sweat very little, so I don't have so much of a problem wearing rain gear or non athletic clothing. I also don't have to carry water with me for the same reason. But I think that how you solve the gear problem depends on your own body, climate, terrain, etc.

Definitely don't ride into a puddle if you can't see the bottom. Expect your brakes to be less effective. Expect to be less visible. Get a blinky. Make sure your shoes and pedals are configured so your feet won't slip off when wet. I have platform pedals that are fairly knobbly, and tend to wear hiking style shoes.
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Old 03-29-17, 06:26 PM   #15
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Whether you're taking public transit or driving, you'll have some type of rain gear or fumbling with an umbrella.

In a bus, you'll be crammed with everybody else wearing raincoats or holding umbrellas that's dripping all over the floor. Plus all that body heat creates a lot of steam.

In a car, you'll be constantly adjusting the fan and opening the window for the same reason otherwise the windows will get all fogged up. And if you leave the window open for too long, the inside of the door gets all wet.

You're going to get wet in any situation. On a bike, you don't give up your convenience. Wear a shell jacket and shell pants with ventilation. Wear lights, blinkies and reflectors all over the place. In your helmet, put on a light fabric, long visor baseball cap to keep your glasses or goggles dry. Wear boots or bring spare socks.

Have fun.

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Old 03-29-17, 08:04 PM   #16
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If it's regular old raining when I wake up, I ride. If it's cats and dogs full-on down-pour (particularly if it's a T-storm), I'll ask my wife if I can take the car (we only have one). If she needs it, then I have to choose between riding or walking over to the train station. Both options involve lots of wetness.

On the way home, I ride through whatever mother nature throws my way. I don't decide whether to ride or not in the morning based on afternoon forecasts. If I ride to work, then I ride home. However, I have waited at work for a bit to let a T-storm cell pass before setting off back home.

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Old 03-29-17, 08:46 PM   #17
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When I had a choice, I wouldn't ride to work when it was raining. If rain was forecast for the ride home? No biggie because I could jump in the shower after my 18 miles. Then, for a few years, I didn't have a choice and I got fenders. What a difference they make. Next rainy commute, I'm thinking of trying my neoprene dive gloves. I don't yet have rain pants.

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Old 03-29-17, 08:52 PM   #18
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More often than not, It's a way of life here in Seattle.
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Old 03-29-17, 09:04 PM   #19
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I'll ride in the rain unless it's cold rain. I get just as wet from sweat on a hot day. Fenders are key, and a rain jacket. Occasionally pants if it's really coming down and cool temps. Also, SPD bike sandals mean I don't need to be concerned with wet feet.
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Old 03-29-17, 09:43 PM   #20
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Riding in light rain with a good jacket can be exhilarating. If it is a heavy rain with wind in your face at 35 F it might not be so much fun, but I still do it. The biggest thing I recommend is to have dry clothes to switch into so you don't have to stay in damp clothes all day.
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Old 03-30-17, 08:46 AM   #21
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I don't want to, and really am not able to deal with wet clothes at work. I especially hate having to put wet shoes back on. Still in light or moderate rain I'll ride the mile and a half to the train station carrying an umbrella. My company is paying for the train anyway so I don't feel guilty.
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Old 03-30-17, 10:04 AM   #22
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Yep. All the time. I kind of shuffle among 3 bikes: 1 w/ generator hub & fenders and headlight for rain (or darkness), 1 w/ fenders for the rest of the time, and I do have a roadbike that I only ride when it's nice out and there is no standing water on my commute. That's basically August.
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Old 03-30-17, 11:02 AM   #23
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I do not mind riding home in the rain depending on how heavy the rain is, but I tend not to ride into work in the rain especially if it is a heavy rain. but I will ride in a light rain.
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Old 03-30-17, 11:20 AM   #24
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Retired now but I have done my share of rain commuting. I never owned a car until I was in my 30s. Lived in Massachusetts, Michingan and around San Francisco Bay. All get 38-42" of rain/year. (Well, not all of Massachusetts' and Michigan's precipitation comes down wet, but that's another issue.)

I used different strategies at different times as my rides changed, clothing options changed and weather changed. (Needing to be at work, not having a car and not having access to public transportation forces onto become quite adoptable.) I figured out a lot of tricks. Comfortable feet in wet shoes? Easy. Put your bare foot in a produce bag. Then socks as usual. Then another produce bag and a thin pair of those old man's stretchy socks that come up really high to keep everything in place. Your socks will not see either outside water or sweat and will be clean and dry, ready for the ride home.

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Old 03-30-17, 11:43 AM   #25
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I too have recently made the bike commute commitment. 26-30 miles each way (depending on route) & a bus return trip. The weather difference between Seattle to the West and Bellevue to the East can be a torrential downpour and no clouds at all & combined with the weather difference between 15 miles North of either downtown to 15 miles South makes judging what the weather is, or could be problematic, at best.

If I was to make the commitment at all, then I felt a full kit was a must. I picked up Ortleib panniers and rain pants at REI, some fenders ($6 at Goodwill!) A Performance bike dayglow coat (on sale), some neoprene booties and some extra large goretex gloves at an LBS, & a cycling cap at a local co-op.

1 pannier has rain gear, the other a days worth of cloths.

The Performance bike jacket really seals well around the helmet, but doesn't really breath that well. Next time, I think a Goretex jacket might be worth the expense.

The impulse purchase neoprene booties are worth every penny, almost making my Lake 303's redundant. (I wish I'd discovered them sooner, I'd have cancelled the Amazon order for the shoes)

The extra large goretex gloves keep my hands toasty & dry inside my regular cycling gloves. I tried ski gloves and wet liner issues were just a PIA.

Least important: I find my leggings keep my legs warm whether they are wet or not, so I think rain pants are the least important unless it's raining hard enough for water to run down your leg into your shoes.

Most important: jacket with good hood that seals well against helmet and face. A good second would be a skull cap that keeps the wind and the added wind-chill of cold rain off your dome.

I have yet to be miserable like I imagined I would. In fact, with decent gear, it's downright pleasurable.
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