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  1. #1
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    Commuting in the Rain

    How do you experienced commuters deal with the rain?

    What do you wear or take with you to accommodate the rain?

    Do you carry a laptop with you? I have what is claimed to be a watertight pannier system, but that accountability is high.

    Anyway. It just feels too difficult to start out in the rain and expect that the ride might continue for the full commute.

    My commute is 3 miles to the bus stop; a 30 min bus ride; and then another 45 minute bike ride. Sounds ludicrous to make that a standard plan. Despite the rising gas prices.

    Looking for your feedback and input.

  2. #2
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I have a windshield and fairing. Granted, that's not for everyone.

    A raincoat cinched up plus some waterproof pants does the trick. I carry dry socks because no matter what my feet get soaked.

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    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TouringMN View Post
    How do you experienced commuters deal with the rain?

    What do you wear or take with you to accommodate the rain?

    Do you carry a laptop with you? I have what is claimed to be a watertight pannier system, but that accountability is high.

    Anyway. It just feels too difficult to start out in the rain and expect that the ride might continue for the full commute.

    My commute is 3 miles to the bus stop; a 30 min bus ride; and then another 45 minute bike ride. Sounds ludicrous to make that a standard plan. Despite the rising gas prices.

    Looking for your feedback and input.
    That's a good 90 minutes each way. People do it, but I moved closet to work to avoid that kind of thing.

    Anyway I bring a laptop inside a water proof backpack. Why don't you take a hose to your pannier without a laptop in it to see how it holds up? For piece of mind you could always put the laptop inside another plastic bag before putting it in your pannier.

    I have packable rain gear for my commute. It's nothing terribly special and I use it for cold/pouring rain. The problem with most rain gear, except for maybe the really high end stuff is that you sweat inside it, so you don't stay dry anyway. If it's warm I might just skip the rain gear. Often times I'll wear a water resistant shell because that breathes better.

    The best thing to wear under the rain gear is moisture wicking materials. Wool and some synthetics fit the bill. Avoid cotton because that just stays wet.

    Fenders on your bike help too.

    My goal isn't really to stay dry, it's to stay warm.

    I change when I get to work.

  4. #4
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    I have a warm shower and clean, dry clothes at work, so I don't mind if I get a little wet coming in. I prefer cool rain to warm rain, since I can dress up for cool rain and still stay mostly dry. When it's warm, my rain gear gets too hot, so I leave it home and just get wet. Wearing clear sunglasses/goggles is essential for keeping rain out of my eyes. I also wear a hood or hat under my helmet to keep my head dry even when it's warm. I ride with my laptop 2 days/week. I have a neoprene sleeve for it which I put inside a plastic shopping bag and then inside my panniers. Never gets wet, even on the rainiest days.

  5. #5
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TouringMN View Post
    What do you wear or take with you to accommodate the rain?
    I've got a breathable, waterproof jacket (very expensive and doesn't keep me 100% dry, but I think it's worth it given the climate here in the PNW) and a pair of waterproof shoe covers (also not 100% waterproof, but much better than not having them). Beyond that, I wear wicking bike-specific clothes and change when I get to work. For the distance you're talking about, you have to resign yourself to getting wet and just manage comfort.

    Quote Originally Posted by TouringMN View Post
    Do you carry a laptop with you? I have what is claimed to be a watertight pannier system, but that accountability is high.
    I sometimes carry a laptop. I have a standard pannier (Novara Commuter) with a rain cover, and I've never had a problem. Some other systems have much better waterproofing. Unlike the clothing, waterproof panniers really are 100% waterproof, I think, because they don't need to be breathable.


    Quote Originally Posted by TouringMN View Post
    Anyway. It just feels too difficult to start out in the rain and expect that the ride might continue for the full commute.
    It's an advanced skill, or maybe I should say an acquired taste. If you're just starting out, only commute on nice days. When you see how much you like it, you can decide about adding on rain days too.


    Quote Originally Posted by TouringMN View Post
    My commute is 3 miles to the bus stop; a 30 min bus ride; and then another 45 minute bike ride. Sounds ludicrous to make that a standard plan. Despite the rising gas prices.
    Yeah. I'd probably try to cut out the bus ride and bike that part too. Otherwise, it doesn't sound so bad. What's the distance?

  6. #6
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    Get a pelican case for the laptop. Watertight panniers or not, that laptop will be dry. I do not carry a laptop but the pelican cases are great for most high tech gear (DSLRs, etc). I usually wimp out in pouring rain but am debating fenders on the new bike (Salsa Vaya) to make things less messy. Plus, my commute is nowhere near as long as yours...~15-20min. When I ride in the rain though, I do as others above have stated--wear something water resistant to have some breathability.

  7. #7
    Senior Member commo_soulja's Avatar
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    Rain? I wear a Gore windstopper jacket which keeps my torso relatively dry on my commute. My work clothes stay dry in Ortlieb panniers which are totally waterproof. When it rains, it's only for a part of my commute never for the whole duration so I don't get drenched.
    Mythical Creatures Touched Me in my Bathing Suit Area.

  8. #8
    lowlife bottom feeder BassNotBass's Avatar
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    In most cases when it's raining I just accept the fact that I'm going to get wet. I have a jacket/shell that breathes well enough but unless the temp is below 40°F I sweat too much in it so get soaked anyway. I mainly just wear clothing that wicks moisture and dries quickly so that I have something warm (when it's cold) and dry to wear on my commute home.

    I would think that adding a bus ride in the middle of the commute would really complicate things but if it had to be done I would buy a good Gore-Tex type rain suit and commute on the bike at a leisurely pace so as not to sweat.
    I plan on living forever... so far so good.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    Yeah. I'd probably try to cut out the bus ride and bike that part too. Otherwise, it doesn't sound so bad. What's the distance?
    The total distance without the bus is 26 miles; so that is a major commitment of time; hence the bus to get me across a river that divides the burbs from the working zone. On good days, riding home for the full ride is very achievable.

  10. #10
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I get wet and I enjoy it. I have a Nashbar waterproof pannier, I bought a pair for $35 I think, and it has proven to be reliably waterproof. I don't commute with a laptop but I've had an ebook reader and an Android tablet in there without worry, I'd put a laptop in it as well without worrying.

    I have rain gear but it's more fun to get wet if the temps are > 60*F. I save the rain gear for colder temps.

    EDIT: Fenders. I would enjoy riding in the rain a lot less without fenders, especially in the spring when the roadkill from all winter might be leaking and running downstream...
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  11. #11
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Fenders, and a cheap breathable bike rain jacket. (It doesn't get that cold here) For the laptop, I have really large zip-lock bags.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
    I would think that adding a bus ride in the middle of the commute would really complicate things but if it had to be done I would buy a good Gore-Tex type rain suit and commute on the bike at a leisurely pace so as not to sweat.
    I have a Gore Oxygen Jacket for rain and it is gore-tex. Love the jacket and it does a really good job keeping me dry from the rain. However there is a compromise to it as it is not very breathable and keep pretty much most of your sweat but I wear a Under Armor compress shirt under so I don’t really mind the moisture from my sweat.

    For you laptop, I will also suggest to get a waterproof case. On top of that, you can buy those medium or large zigloc bags and put your laptop in it for extra insurance. (I used it for my clothes)

  13. #13
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    ...My goal isn't really to stay dry, it's to stay warm.

    I change when I get to work.
    Well said.

    It's my opinion that when riding in wet (and/or very cold) weather, no matter how optimally dressed, the first ten miles (~45 minutes) or so will be tolerable, and then you endure the rest. It seems like a lot of queries and responses look for or propose seemingly flawless solutions. Whenever I read such threads I want to know how far or long the ride is.

  14. #14
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    A lot depends on temperature. My commute can take 50-55 minutes on a rainy & windy day including stop lights. I have rain pants for legs/lower body if it's a really cold rain; leg warmers for in-between, and my legs just get wet if it's mid-upper 60s (F) or above. Hi tech rain jackets (both Endura, one lighterweight/ultra packable) for upper body. Again, a balance between staying dry, comfort, and ventilation. I normally wear a head sweat under my helmet, switching to a SealSkinz beanie under my helmet if it's a cooler day. Various gloves for hands, again depends on the temps.

    The trickiest part for me are my feet - I have waterproof cycling boots (Lake), but when water splashes in over the tops, my feet get and stay wet,the shoes take forever to dry out at work even with aggressive stuffing and changing newsprint. I recently purchased waterproof SealSkinz socks. Based on a few rainy commutes - they work. I deliberately wore ventilated shoes; feet stayed dry and I didn't mind that the shoes didn't dry out completely before the ride home. They make several styles including one with grippers on the tops that are claimed to be completely waterproof (they show a photo of someone standing in water over the sock tops). For the rest of my stuff, panniers or backapack with rian cover and anything that can't get wet is in a big ziplock bag. I also keep a change of shorts & socks at work just in case I get soaked in the morning and want something dry for the ride home.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
    I get wet and I enjoy it...I have rain gear but it's more fun to get wet if the temps are > 60*F. I save the rain gear for colder temps.

    EDIT: Fenders. I would enjoy riding in the rain a lot less without fenders, especially in the spring when the roadkill from all winter might be leaking and running downstream...


    I once read an amusing post where the subscriber described the water splashed off of the road as a solution of chemicals, grime, and "liquified road kill."

  16. #16
    Senior Member clasher's Avatar
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    Full coverage fenders, a bunch of companies make them in either metal or plastic... many good reviews in this forum.

    I like to wear a rain cape in the rain and I have an extra long mudflap on the front fender and that keeps me much more comfortable than rain suits did. Personally I wouldn't ride a fender-less bike in the rain. I don't mind riding slower in the rain but the rain capes can take some getting used to if it's windy. The cycling specific rain capes are much nicer in this regard but I just suffer the indignity of a 10$ rain poncho and I stay pretty dry. If you ride flat pedals I also use galoshes or overshoes since I hate wet feet. I always wear wool dress socks (best socks ever) so I don't find overheating.

  17. #17
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TouringMN View Post
    The total distance without the bus is 26 miles; so that is a major commitment of time; hence the bus to get me across a river that divides the burbs from the working zone. On good days, riding home for the full ride is very achievable.
    Burnsville/Prior Lake/Shakopee to Minneapolis?

  18. #18
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    Fenders, a dry towel at work, and the fresh clothes I brought in my waterproof pannier.

    I used to have non-waterproof panniers, and the clothes stayed fine in a plastic garbage bag until there was a real downpour (say, 1" in 30 minutes).

    Have you considered a USB drive in a ziplock bag in lieu of the laptop?

  19. #19
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    My commutes are a lot shorter distances than yours, but I wear some Field & Stream Jacket and/or pants. I have a bunch of different shells. If I know it will be raining hard I use the rain gear. Its water proof, but breathability is lacking. However if its only a drizzle or misting my other non waterproof shells work well enough.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
    Have you considered a USB drive in a ziplock bag in lieu of the laptop?
    That's a good idea.

    I wear a rain jacket and the rest of me gets wet. Works all the way down to freezing temps, but I need more layers below ~45 F in the rain. Fenders of course.

    I use a bona-fide dry bag to keep important things dry, or I pack my things in a garbage bag inside of may backpack (which goes in a rear basket). But if I had to take a laptop I would get a hard case, the reason being vibrations.

  21. #21
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel
    My goal isn't really to stay dry, it's to stay warm.

    I change when I get to work.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
    Well said.

    It's my opinion that when riding in wet (and/or very cold) weather, no matter how optimally dressed, the first ten miles (~45 minutes) or so will be tolerable, and then you endure the rest. It seems like a lot of queries and responses look for or propose seemingly flawless solutions. Whenever I read such threads I want to know how far or long the ride is.
    + Both the above.
    I have not found any "breathable" rainwear (perhaps they're out there) that will keep me totally dry under exertion. I'll either be wet from sweat or from outside moisture. OTOH, I'm not sure I'd be willing to pay the price for said outergarments anyway. Wet I can handle / cold I cannot.
    "I thought of that while riding my bike."
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  22. #22
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    Tires.

    I have $15 Kenda tires.

    http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/M...?ModelID=24539

    These are going on my bike. The rubber compound is better than my current tires. 700c x 35. They'll grab the wet roads better. They're not for mountain/offroad, I'm aware.

    You can find whatever grippy slicks you want, but make sure you have tires that don't dump you on the ground the moment you ride over a shiny patch of damp pavement. Rubber compound makes a huge difference. No matter what kind of awesome goretex jacket/pants you have, you're still going to hit the ground when your bike skids out from under you.

    Get disc brakes or Kool Stop pads or whatever someone recommends for the rain. You don't want cheap rim brake pads that glide along the rim over a bead of water; get something made of a rubber compound that cuts through water and grabs that rim tight.
    Own: 2010 GT Tachyon 3.0
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  23. #23
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Yeah, I carry my stuff around on a 500GB external USB hard drive, the little 2.5" one that doesn't need a power plug. It's encrypted in case it gets lost/stolen. No need to carry a laptop since I have a computer at both ends. I hate laptops anyway.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  24. #24
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I get a little baffled when people buy $50+ tires and say how great they are that they're only just starting to fail at 1500 miles. I've bought $15 tires that lasted 3000. My just plain old Marathons lasted 4500 on the back and the front is still going and looks almost new at 6000. Maybe riding a loaded touring bike wears them out that much faster, but I've read journals of people who rode 5000+ miles per tire while fully loaded.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  25. #25
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    It depends on your riding style, but I've found that if I go at a reasonable clip, I sweat enough in most 'breathable'' jackets to make me wet either way. The best compromise I've found is a wind shell, they aren't actually waterproof, but they do breathe nicely, and they take a lot longer to wet out than most other garments I own. I can generate enough heat just riding to keep myself comfortable even if I'm not bone dry.

    It does require a clean, dry change of clothes at work though.

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