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  1. #1
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    what clothing is appropriate for winter commute and rain?

    hi folks,

    i am really enjoying commuting on my road bike. i ride from home to the metro (about 2-3 miles) in the morning, take the bus to work, and get to ride back (about 14 miles). we've gotten a few rainy days, and i've decided to leave the bike at home on those days.

    i was wondering if you could describe what clothing is appropriate as the weather gets colder. i am not going to ride in anything crazy like snow or sleet. but i would like to be able to continue to ride as it gets colder and also on rainy days.

    thanks!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I wear A neon lime parka with wide reflective bands, and a good pair of 3 layer Goretex overtrousers
    have another bike rain jacket, similar GTX fabric, but the reflective striping is minimal.

    want somehing more fashionable, less neon? http://www.showerspass.com/


    main theme to bear in mind.. Layers. peel them off or add them as needed.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-08-10 at 10:07 AM.

  3. #3
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Wear clothes that keep you warm. It's not complicated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scroca View Post
    Wear clothes that keep you warm. It's not complicated.
    hi scroca,

    indeed, i am looking for clothing that will help me to stay warm (and comfortable) on the ride.

    it may not seem complicated, but for someone whose warm clothes consists of thicker coats, sweaters, pants and such that will be less than comfortable for a ride, i was looking for recommendations for particular items so that i get what i need and don't end up with stuff that isn't really necessary.

    my sincerest apologies if my question seemed inappropriate or naive.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    I wear A neon lime parka with wide reflective bands, and a good pair of 3 layer Goretex overtrousers
    have another bike rain jacket, similar GTX fabric, but the reflective striping is minimal.

    want somehing more fashionable, less neon? http://www.showerspass.com/
    hi fietsbob!

    heh - i like wearing colors that help me to be seen! so neon and such is good!

    thank you for your advice!

  6. #6
    Daily Rider hairlessbill's Avatar
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    Layers! Through winter I wear about 3-4 : baselayer (non-cotton) to wick sweat away from skin, midlayer for insulation, outer layer to keep wind/rain out. Add another thermal mid layer when it gets colder. Typically my base layer is a compression shirt like the Underarmour stuff, mid layer is merino wool - thicker as it gets colder, outer layer is something windproof but breathable like a Windstopper shirt. Substitute outer layer with a waterproof jacket if it is really raining or threatening rain. Get a Buffwear headband/hat thing to keep your ears/head/neck warm - doubles in a pinch as a balaclava. Also get some warmer gloves - I also layer here with liner wool gloves under some larger downhill mountain biking gloves. Lastly get some warmer socks and/or overshoes to keep the wind off your toes.

    The current issue of Bicycling magazine has a good guide for dressing for various temperatures too.

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    First, make sure your bike has fenders, this keeps the dirty water off your cloths.
    When it's raining, a waterproof breathable is the usual choice. Some are cut for really sporty for racing, I prefer a "multi-sports" general purpose cut but with a lower rear tail. Bright colour, reflective piping, stow-away hood, internal wallet pocket, underarm vents are all useful features. The rear zip-up pocket is of little use for commuters.
    Waterproof pants are useful for less athletic riders. They dont need to be the same quality as the jacket, I use a decent generic breathable rather than goretex. A cycling cut has high back, long ankle zipper and ankle straps to cinch tight.
    Waterproof footwear , overshoes, socks to keep your feet warm and dry.
    Im not a fan of waterproof gloves, I use windstopper fleece.
    When it gets colder, a neck buff seals in the heat and you can raise it over your ears.

    You can ride in any normal clothes, I prefer casual hiking gear rather than the lycra look, it depends on your distance and style.

  8. #8
    One Man Fast Brick hubcap's Avatar
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    First of all, riding in snow and sleet is not crazy. It is a natural progression in experiece from the comfort zone of spring-summer-fall riding.

    Layers are your friend. For a 14 mile ride in sub-freezing weather, you need something on your legs other than biking shorts. Lycra tights, or nylon gym/running pants would work fine. Up top you need to use the same layering pricipal. Base layer, insulating layer, outer layer. Don't listen too much to the "cotton-kills" crowd. You can ride 14 miles in whatever you like as long as you are warm enough and comfortable. If you sweat your azz off, so be it...you got home and can take a shower.

  9. #9
    Senior Member himespau's Avatar
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    I have a high viz rain jacket I got in the factory seconds part of nashbar for like $13. The pull tab on the zipper broke so I had to put a new one in, but it does a pretty decent job. No ventilation so it gets pretty hot if you wear it above say 50 and/or put a lot of effort out. Sorry I can't help you as they don't seem to have the deal any more and I'm looking into doing some more of that myself. Just bought several moisture wicking long sleeve shirts from walmart.com (I think starter was the "brand" - yes I gave in and supported the forces of darkness, but I'm poor/cheap) for like $10 each that I'm going to try using as base layers under a jersey with a windbreaker over it all to get some layering. We'll see how that goes. Best of luck to you.

  10. #10
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I wear Pearl Izumi Amfib bibs with some regular shorts over them and Merino wool base layer if it's really cold. On the top a Merino wool base layer, wool sweater and a light Columbia Winter jacket. Balaclava for the head, merino wool socks, SealSkinz and regular sneakers or hiking boots for the feet and regular leather Winter gloves, nothing fancy. I treat the gloves with water repellant so they can take a light rain. I don't have a good solution yet for gloves for pouring cold rain, they are all too bulky for my liking.

  11. #11
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    You might want to check out the Winter Forum, they have advice on what people wear and in what conditions. Otherwise it really depends on what is appropriate and what is not as weather, temperature, and each individual is different. I wear regular clothes and nothing I have is really cycling specific. They are all about a year or more old.

    How you dress will vary. I always layer my clothing. A-shirt, t-shirt, and hoodie on top. Boxers, Bball shorts, and athletic pants on bottom. The temp is 55 right now and windy. I am fine with what I have on. I could consider a windbreaker but would wait until it was cooler. If it was raining I would wear a cheap rain jacket I have for $25.

    You can ride in all types of conditions if you are willing to try. Fenders will help out a lot and will help keep you dry. For increased visibility an ANSI vest or something similar and lights will help out to.
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    thank you all for your kind advice.

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    i am not going to ride in anything crazy like snow or sleet
    Riding in light snow with 2" or less of accumulation is really, really fun. Especially at night. I'm not kidding.

    As for clothing, I wear different layers depending on the temperature, wind, and amount of precipitation. Generally it's some combination of synthetic short-Ts, long-Ts, and fleece with a nylon outer layer. It gets much better with practice. The first time riding in a cold rain will probably be miserable. The second time, not so bad. By the 10th time, you'll start getting the hang of it. By the 100th time, you'll wonder what all the fuss was about.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpoulin View Post
    Riding in light snow with 2" or less of accumulation is really, really fun. Especially at night. I'm not kidding.
    with a road bike?

  15. #15
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    It depends a lot on you. Some people dress for 40 degrees the same way I would dress for 10. I ride in all weathers, been out down to -25*F, and my biggest problem is overdressing and getting hot. If you're gonna stop riding when it starts snowing, you won't need much. Just a windbreaker layer (top and bottom) and a couple of shirts should do. Maybe some tights for warmer but not too warm days. A light base layer, a T shirt over that, shorts, warmish socks, cheap windproof gloves, some lined running pants and a rain jacket take me down to about 15*F.
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  16. #16
    commuter and barbarian scroca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spoonsphere View Post
    hi scroca,

    indeed, i am looking for clothing that will help me to stay warm (and comfortable) on the ride.

    it may not seem complicated, but for someone whose warm clothes consists of thicker coats, sweaters, pants and such that will be less than comfortable for a ride, i was looking for recommendations for particular items so that i get what i need and don't end up with stuff that isn't really necessary.

    my sincerest apologies if my question seemed inappropriate or naive.
    No need to apologize.

    I use merino wool and love it. You could try that.

  17. #17
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Layers are a good thing.
    I ride year round, the coldest I have intentionally ridden in is right around zero F, in the winter I have found it is hardest to keep my face, feet, and hands warm.
    I have the gear so that I should be able to ride down to -20 F, unfortunately I don't quite have the cherries to try it--I guess I don't quite trust my gear.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member ratell's Avatar
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    The the counter-intuitive part of dressing for biking is the colder it is the easier it is. When it's really cold you can just pile on the clothes and your fine. I find around 50 degrees and raining the hardest. It's too cold to just get wet, but wearing rain gear leaves you sweating. As it gets colder it's easier to add layers without overheating.
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  19. #19
    Kid A TurbineBlade's Avatar
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    The current issue of Bicycling magazine has a good guide for dressing for various temperatures too.
    I'll bet they do! Anything in Bicycling Magazine that even attempts to approach "practical" for most cyclists usually misses the target: (helmets that cost $160+, low-spoke count carbon wheels, "commuter" tires that are 23mm with high tpi, titanium bolts, carbon water bottle cages and handlebars, super-thin fly-weight inner tubes, etc.). Bicycling could be the worst possible magazine for commuting/utility cycling -- they target high-end, elitist racing snobs, period.

    What temps? I usually pack a gore-tex shell on rainy days, and like most rain gear - it serves very well as a wind block and insulator. Since I'm going home I don't tend to worry about how wet I get, and there have been days where I'm completely soaked when it couldn't be raining any harder.

    I personally would rather ride in 20's and below than 40's in the rain.....that's a terrible temperature to deal with in the rain. As much as I prefer cotton, I have to say that merino wool is excellent in the wet-cold. Even soaked it still insulates you.
    Cyclist, angler and aquarist

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    Kid A TurbineBlade's Avatar
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    When it's really cold you can just pile on the clothes and your fine
    I see what you mean, but believe it or not I wear relatively little clothing compared to the folks I see out in the winter. My goal is to be pretty cold at first, but then warm up 15-18 minutes into the ride and produce NO SWEAT. If you dress to completely avoid sweat, you can wear whatever you want because you don't have to "wick" away anything. I like this because i can wear anything almost and be comfortable.

    On a cold morning this isn't always easy, but it allows me to wear cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts, cargo shorts, twill pants, and regular clothes that are cheap and reliable.
    Cyclist, angler and aquarist

  21. #21
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    OP will probably also notice that what works for someone else may not work for him. I've yet to find a comfortable waterproof, yet breathing rain gear, and I've tested quite a few. None of the really waterproof membranes breathe enough for me. For me it's either water resistant clothing (I may get wet but I make sure I stay warm); or waterproof clothing and ride very slowly.

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ratell View Post
    The the counter-intuitive part of dressing for biking is the colder it is the easier it is. When it's really cold you can just pile on the clothes and your fine. I find around 50 degrees and raining the hardest. It's too cold to just get wet, but wearing rain gear leaves you sweating. As it gets colder it's easier to add layers without overheating.
    At 50 (this morning), I wear a long-sleeved shirt and jeans. A little colder and I will put on gloves, just above freezing I will put on a tuque.

    In the rain I wear a cheap rain jacket/suit. To avoid sweating I wear nothing (or pretty close to nothing) underneath.

    Below freezing I wear the same clothes with a winter jacket, and an extra layer or two as it gets colder.

    The only parts of me that ever feel cold are my hands.

    I find that anything above freezing is easy because if i under-dress i won't risk freezing, i'll just feel a little cold.

    On the other hand below freezing has the advantage that there is not much risk of rain.

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