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Old 07-15-09, 10:14 PM   #1
kblair
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Rain/Commuting Gear

I recently just started commuting to work by bike and have really enjoyed it. But living in Portland, I know I need to get ready for the rain season. Any ideas on what gear to pick up so I'm prepared to ride through these conditions?
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Old 07-15-09, 10:44 PM   #2
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If you're looking to attempt staying dry: Showers Pass rain gear.
When you're ready to admit that doesn't work, no matter how well made your rain gear is: Wool.

After a number of years riding up here through both seasons (we only get 2; summer and rainy,) I gave up on the concept of staying dry. It's more important to stay warm, and the way to do that is with wool. Even when it's sopping wet, it retains its insulating properties. The only thing I guard from getting perpetually drenched with cold splashes are my feet. Wool socks and Gore Bikewear waterproof booties to keep the wind and water from turing my feet to SPD blocks of ice.
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Old 07-15-09, 11:29 PM   #3
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+1 on the Showers Pass gear and the wool. Burley used to make the best winter commute gear (IMO) but they quit - I went through several trial runs with other jackets until I found Showers Pass

You'll also want full finger gloves (I like neoprene), a cycling cap (brim keeps rain out of your eyes), a good set of lights, and reflectors.

One way to save $ outfitting for winter is to repurpose used wool. I usually get a couple of pairs of cheap value village/GW merino wool sweaters and wear the hell out of them all winter as my insulating layer.

You'll never really be dry commuting out here in the winter - the key is to stay warm and deal with being damp.
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Old 07-16-09, 12:19 AM   #4
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Wearing glasses makes it incredibly dangerous to ride while it's rainy, and at night so I'll definitely be looking into getting contacts and a hat. Thanks.
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Old 07-16-09, 12:33 AM   #5
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I wear glasses with no major problems with a cycling cap under my helmet. If it's really nasty I'll sometimes take a small chamois with me for use at stoplights. I treat my glasses with cat crap anti-fog cream and it really helps both with fog and water buildup. At night, I use light amber lenses to cut direct and reflected glare.

Of course, ymmv....
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Old 07-16-09, 08:03 AM   #6
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I tried various full fingered cycling gloves and found that my hands were still getting cold on those really cold commutes so I finally started wearing a pair of snoboard mittens (thin ones) over the top of standard full fingered cycling gloves. Ahh, warm hands!

I also invested in a pair of Lake Winter Cycling boots which will keep your feet warm and dry on those rainy days. Expensive but if you are serious about winter commuting, worth the money IMHO.

You are also going to need fenders for you bike (I use Planet Bike Cascadia), reflective gear for your body and a good set of lights, front and back (I use Dinotte).
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Old 07-16-09, 10:07 PM   #7
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If you're willing to spend a little, Gore Bike Wear and Endura are the best I've ever seen. Pearl Izumi has some great stuff too, but it's not quite at the same level of combining absolute waterproofing with breathability.

Disclaimer: I own a store that stocks both of those lines, but we looked long and hard at pretty much everything out there before picking up the first two brands for both quality and relative value. I'm not advertising here, just trying to share the research we do as an LBS to help you find what's right for you.
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Old 07-16-09, 10:14 PM   #8
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If you're willing to spend a little, Gore Bike Wear and Endura are the best I've ever seen. Pearl Izumi has some great stuff too, but it's not quite at the same level of combining absolute waterproofing with breathability.

Disclaimer: I own a store that stocks both of those lines, but we looked long and hard at pretty much everything out there before picking up the first two brands for both quality and relative value. I'm not advertising here, just trying to share the research we do as an LBS to help you find what's right for you.
+1
I've been very impressed with the durability of my Gore booties vs. the Bellwether No-Aquas I was wearing. Not that the Bellwethers were bad, but I did need to repair the soles around the cleat holes after only one winter. After 1 harsh winter of using the Gore booties, they're holding up much better because of the reinforced fabric sole instead of the Bellwether plastic soles. They're also easier to put on and walk in.
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Old 07-17-09, 10:08 AM   #9
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When I started winter commuting two years ago I read a bunch of threads here and at Cascade.org, and did a bunch of experimentation. I have found (no surprise here) that layering is really key - what feels comfy at 35 degrees and rainy is not at all the right stuff at 45 degrees and dry.

My winter outfit is:
- Fenders
- ShowersPass Elite rain jacket, with hood
- Rain cover over helmet
- Skullcap if it's cold
- Baseball cap under helmet if it's raining hard
- Most days if it's under 45 degrees I wear Specialized BG Defroster Mountain Bike boots. They are much handier for me than dealing with booties.
- Pants are cycling tights - warmer ones if it's cold out, plain ones if it's cold. If it's *really* cold, I wear a pair of jogging/exercise pants over cycling tights.
- For gloves I wear full-finger Specialized cycling gloves; if it's cold I wear glove liners under them. I have found gloves + liners better than thick gloves.

For my upper body I've found it doesn't really matter what I wear under my Showers Pass jacket as long as I'm warm. I mix and match all kinds of stuff under my jacket - cycling gear, wicking t-shirts, some old ski turtlenecks. Usually I'm wearing a short-sleeve synthetic undershirt under some kind of long-sleeved jersey, but it could be more or less depending on the temperature.
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Old 07-17-09, 11:09 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by kblair View Post
Wearing glasses makes it incredibly dangerous to ride while it's rainy, and at night so I'll definitely be looking into getting contacts and a hat. Thanks.
Riding in the rain at night is relatively dangerous with or without glasses, especially if your relatively new. The drivers are also trying to see through a layer of glass covered in rain. My first winter biking, I got hit by a car pulling out of a parking lot. This despite the fact that I was in under street lights, using a good headlight and dressed like the Gorton's fisherman (i.e. all in yellow). The driver claimed he didn't see me. I wasn't hurt, fortunately, just a taco'd front wheel, but since then I had to agree with my wife not to ride in the rain when it's dark (which puts a major bummer into the winter here). My solution has been to drive to a MAX station in the morning, ride to work from there and then take the MAX back to my car in the evening if it's raining (which is a lot less common than you might think -- even though, as you know, it rains nearly every day, it turns out that it's only raining at that time of day about half the time!).

Anyway, that's my two cents on rainy season commuting. Otherwise, I agree with Clifton on getting used to the idea of just getting wet and staying warm. Keep spare socks at work for when the booties can't keep out the rain.
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