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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 04-12-12, 11:05 PM   #1
lungimsam
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Need tips for keeping dry during rainy commute - but affordable.

I ride a "10-speed" and use clipless pedals.
How do I keep dry on the commute on rainy days with normal (non-cycling) clothes?
What is best and normal to wear for head/body/legs/shoes?
I don't want to pay the hi prices for the cycling clothes made for rain.
Thanks for any help. I appreciate any tips and advice.
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Old 04-12-12, 11:14 PM   #2
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Plan to get wet- either from the rain or from sweat. I wear Coleman pants from Wally World, an O2 Rainwear hooded jacket, and wear wool socks with waterproof hiking boots. Street clothes on under that. If it's over 60F, I start sweating about the time I get to work, which is only 2.4 miles away.
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Old 04-13-12, 08:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by no1mad View Post
Plan to get wet- either from the rain or from sweat.

+1

Where do you live, and how far is your commute? My sweat can soak through a dress shirt in five minutes in Deep South summer. In those conditions, it's necessary to change after a 10 mile commute.
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Old 04-13-12, 08:47 AM   #4
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Honestly, a good vented breathable cycling jacket at the minimum, and pants too, are the best investment I ever made. I'm a huge cheapskate, didn't buy them for years, but even though I cheap out at every opportunity, if I lost my rain jacket now I would buy another one immediately. It has outlasted every other piece of clothing I thin I've ever owned.

I paid $99 for a J&G jacket at BicycleClothing.com. I wear it whenever it's raining significantly, or when it's below about 50* (with various layers underneath, depending on temp) down to -25*F.

I previously tried regular rain clothes, like cheap ponchos and such. Miserable.

With a good jacket and rain paints, I really, honestly don't even notice the rain much anymore. They are worth twice what I paid for them.

There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.
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Old 04-13-12, 09:09 AM   #5
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Honestly, a good vented breathable cycling jacket at the minimum, and pants too, are the best investment I ever made. I'm a huge cheapskate, didn't buy them for years, but even though I cheap out at every opportunity, if I lost my rain jacket now I would buy another one immediately. It has outlasted every other piece of clothing I thin I've ever owned.

I paid $99 for a J&G jacket at BicycleClothing.com. I wear it whenever it's raining significantly, or when it's below about 50* (with various layers underneath, depending on temp) down to -25*F.

I previously tried regular rain clothes, like cheap ponchos and such. Miserable.

With a good jacket and rain paints, I really, honestly don't even notice the rain much anymore. They are worth twice what I paid for them.

There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.
Speaking of breathable, if you dont mind camouflage, army surplus Gortex jackets/pants go for $40-60 (Ebay) depending on how used they are. They have armpit zippers to let air in. Cheapest way to get Gortex ive found. I got a like-new Marine issue gortex shell for $100, but ive had the cheaper army one, it works well in snow/rain.
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Old 04-13-12, 09:26 AM   #6
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Get a set of full coverage fenders with long mudflaps. A lightweight rain jacket with ventilation will help keep you warm and somewhat dry. Unless it is really cold, my legs get wet, but stay warm due to exertion. Get cycling shorts/tights, which dry quickly. Lightweight rain pants are rarely used, but are available if really needed.
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Old 04-13-12, 09:52 AM   #7
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Goretex doesn't breathe nearly enough for cycling, IMO. I guess it's OK for gloves. Even with wide open, 18 inch long pit flaps I still barely get enough ventilation sometimes.

Vents work very well and allow you to control temp as well as moisture by opening/closing them.

Also, I don't remember the name, but there is actually at least one technical fabric which is widely held to be significantly superior to Goretex in terms of waterproof breathability. You just never hear of it because as I heard it, if a clothing company starts to use their competitor's stuff, Gore stops selling them Goretex fabric. Since 99% of people only know Goretex, if you can't get Goretex fabric, you are out of business.
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Old 04-13-12, 10:14 AM   #8
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For your feet, cut off some shopping bags and shove your feet in them over your socks, they'll at least keep your feet/socks dry.
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Old 04-13-12, 11:17 AM   #9
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If you want a cheap, light and breathable rain suit, look not further than Frogg Toggs. The Dri-ducks are made out of pro-pore, which is more breathable than Gore-tex. It's not the most durable material out there, but it works great.

The jacket works great on a bike, the pants less so. I'm thinking about cutting mine into a version of Rain legs

If you want pricey, eVent is the fabric that beats out Gore-tex
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Old 04-13-12, 11:50 AM   #10
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Lot's of suggestions for gear and different situations will be posted here, many of them will be well informed and smart. Take heed.

But my $.02 is that there is mental side of riding in the rain is important. You find a way to get comfortable with the idea of riding in the rain just as you would in the wind or the sun or the cold or the dark. It's a natural part of being alive in the world and on your bike. I guess comes down to not being intimidated by conditions. You get as prepared as you can be and know that you will most likely get wet. So what, big deal, you are waterproof, you have towels at home or at work. I like riding in the rain, it makes me feel a like bad ass. Ok, a wet bad ass.
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Old 04-13-12, 11:55 AM   #11
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I'd be concerned about being a badass with hypothermia. The rule I've heard, is if it's above 70 degrees, get wet. Lower than 70, you need rain gear.
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Old 04-13-12, 11:56 AM   #12
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I have a e-vent jacket from REI that works decently in the rain below 60-70 degrees. Above 80, it's the difference between being completely damp from sweating in my jacket and being completely soaked from the rain (I prefer damp, but not by much). I like the breathability of the jacket, but the jackets several years old, several hundred dollars to replace and the waterproofing is becoming more difficult to maintain. I'm not completely sure I would invest in another jacket when I can't stretch this one out any longer. I've kind of resigned to getting wet no matter what.

Otherwise, a set of full fenders (I have the planet bike hardcore fenders) and a pair of vaude short bike gaiters are two cheap options that make riding in wet conditions MUCH more enjoyable.
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Old 04-13-12, 11:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
+1

Where do you live, and how far is your commute? My sweat can soak through a dress shirt in five minutes in Deep South summer. In those conditions, it's necessary to change after a 10 mile commute.
In Maryland. Cold in winter (20's-40's), hot in summer (80's -100). Humid. The commute is 6.5 - 15 miles, depending if I ride the bike all the way, or just from the park n ride 6.5 miles away from work.
Thanks for all the great recommendations, everyone! Keep them coming. I am sure I will find something that works great.

Last edited by lungimsam; 04-13-12 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 04-13-12, 12:02 PM   #14
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Rain Cape, Campmor has one for about $40., and a pair of rain over-trousers
for wind blown rain to keep your pants , lower legs dry.

You need mudguards to keep wheel spray from blowing water up ,
the cape will protect from the top.

Quote:
The rain cape is not much different than my GI military poncho.
[clarify below.. ]
except a poncho/shelter half, is a big flat rectangle , with a hood, in the middle.
Cycle rain cape is a cone, with shoulders, maybe the hood..
many are yellow , Campmor's is..

I own one from Riv bike, Grundens made it for them.

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-16-12 at 06:59 AM.
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Old 04-13-12, 12:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
In Maryland. Cold in winter (20's-40's), hot in summer (80's -100). Humid. The commute is 6.5 - 15 miles, depending if I ride the bike all the way, or just from the park n ride 6.5 miles away from work.
Thanks for all the great recommendations, everyone! Keep them coming. I am sure I will find something that works great.
Hey, fellow Marylander. I have Performance store brand yellow rain gear. I commute year round in all weather, and only use it when it's really coming down hard or cold. Fairly inexpensive and folds up small, which is nice because I have it with me all the time. Works well for this area. There's lots of other stuff out there and you can spend a fortune, but in the end, the goal is to stay warm, rather than 100% dry.

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...82_-1___400070
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Old 04-13-12, 12:22 PM   #16
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Rain Cape, Campmor has one for about $40., and a pair of rain over-trousers
for wind blown rain to keep your pants , lower legs dry.

You need mudguards to keep wheel spray from blowing water up ,
the cape will protect from the top.
The rain cape is not much different than my GI military poncho. I did some experimenting last year riding in mine and it worked quite well once I figured out what to tuck in. Virtually a tent over me and the bike with good airflow from below. Fenders and flaps are a must and I have a pair of light waterproof gators that work perfect keeping shoes socks and lower legs out of the spray.

I think fietsbob’s rain cape would be better as its bright yellow and GI ponchos come camo mine is digital camo. But I run lots of lights and reflectors.
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Old 04-13-12, 02:02 PM   #17
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Campmor rain jacket and pants.....nothing fancy but will keep you dry....or as dry as one gets on a bicycle in the rain.
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Old 04-13-12, 02:30 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by lungimsam View Post
In Maryland. Cold in winter (20's-40's), hot in summer (80's -100). Humid. The commute is 6.5 - 15 miles, depending if I ride the bike all the way, or just from the park n ride 6.5 miles away from work.
Thanks for all the great recommendations, everyone! Keep them coming. I am sure I will find something that works great.
Obviously you're not going to be dry in the summer regardless of what you wear or whether or not it's raining. In the winter, assuming 32-45 degrees, a steady rain will probably still soak through anything that doesn't make you sweat profusely within 6.5 miles. With a light rain, you can probably stay dry.

So, basically, I agree with those who say you should get used to the idea that you're going to get wet. However, you can still control how wet you get and how comfortable you are.

General
Avoid cotton. You don't have to get cycling-specific clothes if you don't want to, but you really don't want to wear cotton. It soaks up sweat and rain and feels like a slimy ice-pack against your skin in cold, wet weather.

Jacket
I used to think since I was going to get wet anyway that a cheap "water-resistent" jacket was as good as anything. Then I got a good "water-proof" jacket at a discount price. When it wears out I'll pay the big money to replace it if I can't find another one at an REI used gear sale. Obviously, we all have budget constraints, but this is definitely a place worth an investment (maybe less so for you than for me since you don't live in a place where it rains 3 out every 4 days). The term "water-proof" tends to be a bit of a misnomer, but it generally indicates that you won't get wet immediately (which you do with "water resistent"). Also, zippers under the armpits are critical for staying cool enough, even on cold days.

Shirts
My favorite shirts for commuting are a couple of Layer-9 polyester T-shirts that I picked up for $2 at Gabriel Bros. a couple of years ago. Check around at discount stores and look for anything that claims to be wicking or quick-dry. These shirts aren't as nice as a good old cotton T for sitting around the living room, but on the bike their golden and from a distance they pass as casual wear.

Socks
This is a no-brainer. Get wool. In the winter I wear thick merino wool "hiker" socks. Even when they're completely saturated they keep your feet dry. It's still nice to have something dry at the end of the commute. In warmer weather, you can use thin wool socks. This is one place I switch to cotton for rides under 40 miles when it's not raining.

Pants
I don't know what to tell you hear. Wet denim is miserable. So is wet cotton. I wear cycling shorts (and knee warmers, if necessary) and have no problems. Skin is a remarkably water-resistent material, so go with shorts when you can.

Shoe Covers
Shoe covers serve two purposes for me -- they keep my shoes clean-ish and they keep my feet dry-ish. I've got several pairs of Sugoi Resistors which are great for keeping my feet clean if the roads are wet but the rain is light, but in heavy rain my feet end up soaked. I've also got a pair of Pearl Izumi Barrier shoe covers which are much better at keeping my feet dry. Shoe covers get shredded with regular use, so I try to stock up at REI used gear sales. You can almost always find something there because people buy them with the expectation that "water-proof" really means "water-proof" and then return them when they find out otherwise. These things sell for as much as $50 new, but I've gotten them as cheap as $5 at used gear sales.
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Old 04-13-12, 02:33 PM   #19
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I just picked up some fairly inexpensive rain pants ($17 shipped with coupon) at Sierra Trading Post and a $70 Mountain Hardwear jacket that is quasi-breathable but has huge pit zips. Seems to work well if you can afford it, and is fairly inexpensive as far as rain gear goes: http://www.sierratradingpost.com/whi...colorFamily=02
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Old 04-13-12, 03:11 PM   #20
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Forget about riding dry... pack everything you need into a dry bag, and go naked.
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Old 04-13-12, 07:53 PM   #21
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Forget about riding dry... pack everything you need into a dry bag, and go naked.
This.

Your skin is a waterproof covering, and it works pretty well at stopping the bag of water that you are from getting wet.....

z
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Old 04-14-12, 07:46 AM   #22
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I use the Campmor Rain Capealso. It's affordable, colorful and has loops and fasteners that help a cyclist. I really like the Rivendell Splatsto cover my feet. They are simple, fit over anyshoe, are super affordable and work as a saddle cover when you leave your bike in the rain.

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Old 04-14-12, 11:30 AM   #23
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I live in Juneau, Alaska and I commute a lot in the rain, about 7 miles each way.

Footwear: xtra-tuf rubber boots. Btw, these are great boots, very popular in the rainier parts of Alaska. Very comfortable. I own an insulated pair and an uninsulated pair. I have never seen them in the lower 48, but if you live in a rainy environment, they are the ticket.

rain pants: a low end set of helly hansen rain pants, They cost me about $25 and they last me about 2 years.

No shell on the top. I wear one or two layers of fleece depending on the temperature, more if it drops down toward 0F. A shell is useless to me because you get wet from sweat anyway. With two layers of fleece, the outer fleece gets wet but doesn't usually soak thru to the second by the time I reach my destination. But even in a soaker, I am comfortable.
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Old 04-15-12, 12:40 PM   #24
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I agree with the "you'll get wet either from rain or sweat". I'm mostly a fair weather commuter, but not always. If it might rain, I wear a wool shirt and it's mostly OK if I get wet. Pants are usually nylon of some sort, shorts or knickers. I put my work clothes (which still might be shorts and a T-shirt) in a decently waterproof pannier. I'm mostly not water soluble.
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Old 04-15-12, 06:33 PM   #25
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Red Ledge rain jacket and Novara 2.0 rain pants combined with Hi-tech waterproof boots has worked perfect for me all fall, winter, and spring. If its above 50 degrees and raining i agree with the just go naked comment.
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